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Education
Kids & Family
Society & Culture
Philosophy
Self-Improvement

Simple Families Podcast: Parenting + Minimalism

Updated 4 days ago

Education
Kids & Family
Society & Culture
Philosophy
Self-Improvement
Read more

Solutions for Thriving in Motherhood

Read more

Solutions for Thriving in Motherhood

iTunes Ratings

533 Ratings
Average Ratings
491
27
4
7
4

Leaves listeners with a positive mood

By NMRNMoM - Sep 04 2019
Read more
Such a smooth and positive listening experience.

A Parenting Paradise!

By Katie Joy B. - Jul 18 2019
Read more
Denaye and her incredible guests provide first-in-class insight and advice for families from every walk of life looking to get back to the basics! Engaging, inspiring, and informative are just a few of the words I’d use to describe the time you’ll spend with them. Thanks so much for putting out such a robust resource Denaye - keep up the great work!

iTunes Ratings

533 Ratings
Average Ratings
491
27
4
7
4

Leaves listeners with a positive mood

By NMRNMoM - Sep 04 2019
Read more
Such a smooth and positive listening experience.

A Parenting Paradise!

By Katie Joy B. - Jul 18 2019
Read more
Denaye and her incredible guests provide first-in-class insight and advice for families from every walk of life looking to get back to the basics! Engaging, inspiring, and informative are just a few of the words I’d use to describe the time you’ll spend with them. Thanks so much for putting out such a robust resource Denaye - keep up the great work!
Cover image of Simple Families Podcast: Parenting + Minimalism

Simple Families Podcast: Parenting + Minimalism

Updated 4 days ago

Read more

Solutions for Thriving in Motherhood

Rank #1: SFP 79: SPECIAL EPISODE: How can I reduce the mental load?

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The mental load in motherhood is overwhelming. In today’s special episode, we are discussing why this matters and what we can do about it. Denaye also introduces a simple, 4-step plan to begin peeling back the layers.

Want to starting unpacking the mental load together, join us!

The post SFP 79: SPECIAL EPISODE: How can I reduce the mental load? appeared first on Simple Families.

Oct 30 2017
14 mins
Play

Rank #2: SFP 121: Minimalism + Parenthood [with Kristen Puzzo]

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This is my favorite podcast episode yet. This month we are exploring the journey to simplicity in four real-life families. Because minimalism just makes good sense for families. Today I am chatting with Kristen Puzzo. Kristen is an active member of the Simple Families Community. I have been following her journey as she has been lightening the heavy load of motherhood for over a year. In this episode she shares an incredible amount of wisdom and insight for aspiring minimalists everywhere.

Show Links:

How to Pack a Minimalist Beach Bag

Kristen #mommingsohard

The post SFP 121: Minimalism + Parenthood [with Kristen Puzzo] appeared first on Simple Families.

Aug 22 2018
37 mins
Play

Rank #3: SFP 137: Let’s Stop Hurrying our Children [with Janet Lansbury]

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I don’t know about you–but my kids have the tendency to move slowly. They function on their own timeline. The result is that as parents, we often find ourselves “hurrying” them to speed up and get on our agenda. In today’s episode I am chatting with Janet Lansbury about hurrying our kids through their days and through their lives.

Show Notes/Links:

The post SFP 137: Let’s Stop Hurrying our Children [with Janet Lansbury] appeared first on Simple Families.

Dec 12 2018
39 mins
Play

Rank #4: SFP 165: Journey to Simplicity | Jane’s Story

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Today I’m chatting with Jane Monnier about her journey towards reducing mental and physical clutter. Jane is a longtime member of the Simple Families Community. She’s also is a rocket-scientist-turned-military-wife-and-mother who has lived around the world with her family. I think you will enjoy Jane’s wisdom in this episode!

(Full episode transcription below).

Show Notes/Links:

Jane Monnier

Full Transcript:

Denaye:            For those of you have been listening to the podcast for a while, you’ll know that occasionally I do these journey to simplicity stories where I follow members of the Simple Families audience, and they share with us more about what their journey towards a simpler life has looked like.

Today I am chatting with Jane Monnier. Jane has been a part of Simple Families pretty much since I have since the very beginning. And it’s been a pleasure getting to know her through the Facebook community and through the programs that she’s done. She’s a veteran of The Mental Unload. She’s actually done it with me three times now and she joined me this last round as the community manager. Which was so great to see her be able to take the tools that she’s used and support other women.

So she’s joining me today, and we’re talking more about what her journey to simplicity looked like. Jane is a rocket scientist turned military mother and wife, and her family has moved all over the world. And they’ve definitely faced obstacles and their own share of stress and overwhelm, and the accumulation of stuff. So Jane is going to share a little bit about how she’s been letting go of the physical and mental clutter. I hope you enjoy this episode.

Conversation Begins:

Denaye: Hi Jane, how are you?

Jane:                I’m wonderful Denaye. How are
you?

Denaye:            I’m good. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me.

Jane:                Of course. My pleasure.

Denaye:            So Jane, I’ll first say how I’ve gotten to know you over the past couple of years. You have been a part of the Simple Families community for how long has it been, do you know?

Jane:                I can’t remember exactly, but I
think it was before you even had your actual blog website up. You were doing an
email list.

Denaye:            It was probably early 2017 maybe, I’m guessing.

Jane:                So I know I only had one child I
think, and she was born in 2015.

Denaye:            Okay. Wow, it’s been a long time.

Jane:                It’s been a really long time.

Denaye:            I’ve loved having you as a part of Simple Families and you participated in The Mental Unload. You’ve done a few rounds with me. I this last round you help to co facilitate it with me and I really enjoyed getting to know you better through that too.

Jane:                Well thank you. I really enjoyed
it and I loved being bigger part of the community during that last Mental
Unload because there’s some really awesome ladies that were involved. And I
always learn something new every round I do about myself. And every round I do
of The Mental Unload affects me in a different way because there’s always
something new going on in my life. So it’s wonderful.

Denaye:            The Mental load doesn’t go away, but you can learn to balance it better.

Jane:                Exactly.

Denaye:            Keep it a little quieter.

Jane:                Yes. And I have.

Denaye:            Good, good, good. So I am excited to hear your story. So tell us a little bit about you and where you started. Where’d you grow up? Where have you lived, because I know you’ve lived all over.

Jane:                Yeah. So I’m originally born and
raised in Minnesota. And I was really excited to leave and do other things, and
went to college down in Florida to get an engineering degree at Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University, which nobody really knows about unless you’re in the
aeronautical community. And then my husband and I actually reconnected. We went
to high school together but weren’t high school sweethearts or anything like
that. And reconnected right after we graduated college in the same year when I
was living in Florida. ANd he joined the air force, and we were dating long
distance. I moved to Texas and then we got married in 2009. And shortly after
we got married, we moved to Japan, and were there for three years due to his
job.

And then about 28 or 30 weeks into my first pregnancy in Japan, we moved to Arkansas where we were there for about three years. We added another child. I finished my master’s degree in Arkansas and started working again as an engineer there after taking a few years off in Japan. And then he got a surprise assignment that we were super excited for, which required us to move to Italy, where we are right now. But before that, he had to go to language school in Washington DC. So we lived there for six months while he learned Italian and then we moved to Italy.

And we’ve been here just over two years now. That’s my geographic story in a nutshell. We have two daughters. My oldest is almost six. Her birthday’s at the end of May, so she’s an almost six year old, and a three and a half year old, two daughters.

Denaye:            Wow, that makes my head spin.

Jane:                There was a lot going on.

Denaye:            So much movement and change, and wow. So tell me a little bit about your career background. What type of engineering were you doing?

Jane:                So I graduated in 2007 with a
bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, and I worked for Boeing at the
Kennedy Space Center for the space shuttle program back when we were still
sending us astronauts to space off of US soil. So that was a pretty-

Denaye:            So does that make you a rocket scientist?

Jane:                It does.

Denaye:            I’m just checking. I thought.

Jane:                Yes. Technically it does. And I
really liked saying I worked for the space shuttle program a lot, but my actual
day to day job wasn’t super fulfilling to my interests, I suppose. So I
transferred within the same company to Texas and made airplane parts instead,
which is a lot guess more blue collar for lack of better words. I got dirty at
my job. I got to wear jeans and steel toe shoes and stuff, and work with some
really, really talented machinists that could build any part that you needed
for these really old cargo and tanker airplanes that the Air Force is still
using today that need to get basically completely overhauled with new stuff all
on the inside of them. And some of these parts, there’s not a manufacturer for
them anymore. So we build them in our shop. And that was really fun, and I
really love that job.

Denaye:            So was it just a coincidence that your husband was in the Air Force or was this all, was that one of the big pieces that you reconnected on?

Jane:                So I would say it was a
coincidence because it wasn’t why we met or anything like that. But having a
shared interest in aviation definitely helped us have a bond, and something
that we could talk about and enjoy. He had always wanted to be a pilot his
whole life. And so it was really easy to support his dream to do that because I
was also then still a part of the aviation community. Even when I quit my job
to go with him to Japan, I was still in this community that I found a lot of satisfaction
being a part of, even as a different role, which is military spouse.

And I kind of naively also thought, “I work on military aircraft. I’ll be able to find a job at any military base.” But that’s not really how it works. There’s different bases that do a lot of the work with contractors or companies like Boeing. And there’s other places that they don’t do anything. Only active duty people work on the aircraft. ANd I’m not in the military, so I couldn’t have that sort of job. So I naively thought I’d be able to continue my career wherever we went. Which has not been the case at all.

Denaye:            Now was this a career that you had dreamed of your whole life or is it something you stumbled onto?

Jane:                I was always really good at math
and science, and I loved the movie Apollo 13. I thought I want to be an
engineer, but I negated the other types of engineering that I didn’t want to do
because the job sounded more boring or I wasn’t interested in. Robotics or
something like that. But I liked aviation and I liked space.

So I kind of went into it not really knowing what I was going to do in the career field, but just wanting that challenge to say that I have an aerospace engineering degree, I suppose.

So my whole joke has always been I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up because I really like being a student, and I really like having a challenge, and I really like learning. Unlike my husband who’s always wanted to be a pilot in the military, I haven’t had that direct of a goal for my childhood or even my adult life.

Denaye:            And I think that’s so true of many adults that some of us know exactly what we want to do and we start down that path, and we stay on that path forever. And then others of us, I feel like we are a lot more open to learning new things, and to learning about new novel areas, and diving deeper into many different things. Sort of like a jack of all trades.

Jane:                Right, right. Totally. I still
do love engineering. When I had to take a break from it while we were in Japan,
I decided to get my master’s degree through an online program. So I also have a
master’s degree now in mechanical engineering from the North Carolina State
University’s online program, which was a really cool experience to do. And I
just always thought I was going to do that.

Denaye:            So now you’re home with your kids. Was that ever in your plans?

Jane:                It was never in my plans. I grew
up with a mom who always worked. She worked part-time. She was home at three
o’clock, so I always had her home after school, but she always had a job. And I
just always assumed … I’ve worked really, really hard for my degrees and for
my job. And why would I not do that anymore, I guess. And I always think I went
to daycare, I’m fine. So my kids can go to daycare and they’ll be fine too. And
it never really crossed my mind that that was something I was going to do.

Denaye:            I’ve talked to a lot of moms in the past year about this idea that when you’re coming from a career where you have found success and moving into a new role as a mother, whether it be a stay at home mother or a working mother, that you come in with this idea that I’ve done this other job well, and I have succeeded and experienced success in this side of me. Motherhood is going to be easy. This is just going to be one more thing, one more box to check, one more thing that I can achieve and succeed at. Did you feel like that at all going into motherhood?

Jane:                Definitely. And I also have had
a lot of experience with kids. My part-time job in college was as, I call myself
a nanny, but I didn’t live with them. But I was regularly at their house for
three years, multiple days a week and saw these two boys grow up. I always
liked kids. I’ve been a camp counselor. I’ve done things even when I was in
Japan, one of the things I was doing there was teaching English to little kids
and substitute teaching at the high school on the base and things.

So I’ve always had kids as part of my life. So I always thought that becoming a mom would just be that natural next step. I’ve always wanted to be a mom and I’ve always liked kids, so I’d never really thought that I couldn’t do everything.

Denaye:            So tell me a little bit about your experience becoming a mother and your first years. What did those look like?

Jane:                They were … looking back at it
now, I can see that I was trying to do a lot. But at the time, it seemed I was
just doing my life, you know? We thought we were going to be staying in Japan
another year. So I expected to have my first daughter while living there. And we
actually had a really wonderful community there. So that didn’t scare me. I was
happy to have my daughter there.

And then the military always has a mind of its own. So they decided that my husband needed to move back to Little Rock a year sooner. And so I moved seven months into my pregnancy which I was not expecting, and we had to find a house to live in, and buy new cars. And all of that is a lot when you’re not hormonally pregnant and dealing with that, find a new doctor, choose a hospital to deliver in, all those things. Suddenly I had two months to do it in and not nine.

So that was a lot. My husband was in training for a new airframe, which is really demanding. So we always joke that our daughter was a good military baby because she was born on Friday of Memorial Day weekend, which means he got Saturday, Sunday, and Monday off of work. So he was back to training on Tuesday when I had a four day old child.

And that was just normal. That’s what everybody around us had to do, so that’s what I had to do as well. I took a break from my master’s program that semester that I was moving and having her. I did know I couldn’t do all of that at once. So I took a break for that semester. And then I finished my master’s degree while at home with [Leah 00:18:12] is her name, our oldest. And around when she was nine months old, I started getting applications out, and finding a job, and I started full time as a design engineer for a cylinder company. Not exciting compared to airplanes and space shuttles and things. But I’m in Arkansas, so this is where I can get a job. And I was so excited, and I was going to do it all. We found a great Montessori daycare school for her to enter in once she turned a year old and everything was great, except I hated doing the job.

I did not like it at all and I really had some great coworkers, so that helped. But I missed my daughter. I missed her so much. And my husband was supposed to deploy. And I just was like, “I can’t do this anymore.” And I was visiting a friend of mine who I went through college with, and she doesn’t have any children, but she’s so supportive. She’s one of those best friends who even if your lives are completely different, she’s just always in your corner. And she told me, “Jane, when you talk about your daughter, your face just lights up. And when you talk about your job, you seem miserable.”

And it was her that gave me that permission to say I don’t have to do this. It doesn’t define me being an engineer. So I decided to stop, and I quit, and I didn’t have anything else lined up. I just said I need to be home right now. And I eventually found a variety of other things that I liked to do. One of them was writing for a online math program that I wrote tests and quizzes, and I wrote little stories to teach people about calculus, and the unit circle, and different things like that. And I really liked that little job, which I did while my daughter stayed in school. We kept her in Montessori school and just put her part-time, which was I found out a perfect balance for me. I loved having her home most of the day, but also having a break to do other things. And it was a really good balance for me, and I never tried to find full time work again after that.

I ended up finding a really awesome job as a museum educator for a children’s science museum, which was so much fun. I got to bring in my passion for science education, but they were really nice about around my schedule with at this time now I had two kids. And it was really a great mix of both my family and the science world that I really liked.

So when we were in Little Rock for about three years, and I added two kids to the family in that one three year period. And I switched jobs twice. So that’s a busy three years to go through. But at the time, it didn’t seem that way. I guess I was just doing what I had to do.

Denaye:            In retrospect, were you feeling overwhelmed at that point?

Jane:                Yes. Yes. I was. I was
struggling to find some sort of meaning for myself other than just a mom. And I
kept feeling like I wasn’t doing enough because I wanted my kids to go to a
preschool or to a Mother’s Day Out. They call them Mother’s Day Out programs in
Arkansas. I’d never had heard that until I moved there. But-

Denaye:            They have those in Dallas. I always hated that name.

Jane:                I don’t get it. I hated it too,
that’s what it was called. We said daycare. They thought I meant putting in a
home, which would have been fine too, but I didn’t know anybody who did that.
And so-

Denaye:            I just felt like it gave this perception that Mother’s Day Out, go get your nails done.

Jane:                It was like Mother’s Day Out to
go to my job now at the museum.

Denaye:            I was writing my dissertation. My son was at Mother’s Day Out two days a week. And I’m just like, “No, I am not going to get my nails. Not that there’s anything wrong with getting your nails done. But I think just the name of it like triggers, at least for me, it triggered me to think this is all moms have to do is have a fun day out.” When there’s a lot of us who do other stuff.

Jane:                Yes. For me it really was a mean
sense of child care for me. That was where I expected my daughter to go so I
could go to have my job. It was my daycare, my childcare. But nope, it was
Mother’s Day Out apparently.

But it was a great facility, and my daughter was very happy. My oldest was still at the Montessori. But that didn’t start until a year old. So I couldn’t have them both at the same place. But the other benefit of Little Rock was that childcare there compared to other areas of the country, was very affordable for us. So it meant that I could put them in a part-time program without a huge sense of financial guilt that my job wasn’t bringing in a ton of income. It literally just paid for her to go to her childcare program. It did not pay anything extra. But it gave me a sense of happiness and I’m a good balance that I was craving. I was craving balance. I will definitely say that.

Denaye:            So do you feel like having this outside outlet really helped with the mental overwhelm that comes with moving and having a second kid, and just the big life changes that you were going through?

Jane:                Yeah, I definitely think that if
I would have either stayed at my full time job or stayed home completely, I
would have really struggled that I was missing something. But by finding a bit
of balance between working part-time and still being able to be home, allowed
me to feel like I was still doing something for myself as well as still there
for my children. And I was really lucky to find a work from home job writing
that math curriculum that I could do in the night, I could do in the morning. I
just had a deadline. It didn’t matter when I wrote it. So that was really
flexible with young children.

And then also, the staff at the museum was so wonderful and so supportive. They really set a bar for what I expect my future employers to do as far as being a family friendly workplace. Because if I was sick or my children were sick, there was no guilt that I need to stay home with them, and my husband could travel for his job and be gone. And I didn’t feel this doom of what am I going to do if I wake up tomorrow and my child has an ear infection. Which was really stressful when I was working full time because I don’t live near family, so I don’t have anybody that can just step in and help me.

So having just the stress of not having to give all of myself to a job but not also having to be fulfilled entirely by staying home with my kids, was a good mix of the two.

Denaye:            So were you able to keep at least in your online job after you moved?

Jane:                I wasn’t, actually. There’s some
really strange rules about when you move to different countries for the
military and how those countries are supported. An agreement and stuff. So
actually in Italy, I’m not allowed to work online because the rules haven’t
caught up with the modern day life of 2019. So I’m a rule follower, so I didn’t
keep that job even though I would have liked to. And I was a little bit
worried-

Denaye:            Are you allowed to work at all, or just not online?

Jane:                I’m allowed to work in a US
military base.

Denaye:            Okay.

Jane:                But we are in a remote place. So
there really isn’t a lot of opportunity for me. I would be very underemployed
if I decided to work at the nearest military base, which is a tiny base that
doesn’t have a lot of jobs at it to begin with. And definitely no engineering
or STEM education jobs for me.

Denaye:            Got it.

Jane:                Yeah.

Denaye:            So within all these moves, were you hauling all your stuff around with you or were you putting it into storage? How does that work when you’re moving so often?

Jane:                We had it all Denaye. We had all
our stuff. And that was a huge catalyst in me saying enough is enough. I’ve got
to simplify my belongings and my home. Because it wasn’t so bad when we move to
Japan, because we were a young couple. We were just a few years out of college.
We just didn’t have that much stuff. But then we gathered more things while we
lived in Japan. And then adding a baby, your things just explode. You get so much
stuff when you have kids. And we moved into a three bedroom home with a den,
and a living room, and this big kitchen. And it’s like we just had to fill it
up. And I love that house. It was great.

But when we found out we had six weeks to move from Arkansas to Washington, DC, and then from there onto Italy, it was a mad panic to try to get the house in order for a realtor to come in to try to sell it, and trying to decide what to pack and what not to pack, and are we getting rid of things? Are we just going to bring everything? But we have to downsize to this tiny apartment in Washington DC because we can’t afford a big house there because it’s a completely different cost of living.

And it was not fun. And when we finally got to Italy and we moved into an Italian style home, which does not have closets, that’s completely normal here. We were lucky to have a tiny little garage, which I don’t know if our car would actually fit in it, but we use it for storage. My laundry is out there and stuff. I got into this house and I said never again. I will never again panic to move like I panicked this last time. I will never feel overwhelmed with my house and my stuff ever again. And it has been a really, really good change since.

Denaye:            So you brought everything with you to Italy. ANd did you get rid of a lot of it?

Jane:                So we started the big purge. I
guess probably, we tried to get rid of a bunch of stuff before we moved to
Washington DC but we just didn’t have enough time. So we got of a lot of little
things. But a lot of the bigger stuff, we had two shipments. One shipment was
going to storage to then go to Italy, and the other shipment was going to our
apartment in Washington DC. So I was scrambling trying to figure out what to
bring to DC and what just goes to Italy. So when we eventually made it to
Italy, they were unloading boxes I hadn’t seen for six and a half months that I
thought I needed to bring here. And I’m like, “Why did I haul this across
the world? What was I thinking?”

And so yes, we’ve gotten rid of quite a lot of things since being here. We didn’t have a lot of big furniture and stuff like that. It’s just stuff. It’s just the things in boxes, and bins, and closets. And when you don’t have closets to store anything in you realize, well this was just going to sit in the back of the closet. So do I even need it?

And my girls are sharing a bedroom, and so I don’t need to have a lot of things. All their things together, you know? Just things that living in a smaller home with virtually no storage makes you really second guess everything that you own and why you own it, and why did that go across the world with you?

Denaye:            Yeah, I have to say when we moved from Texas to New York, I was like, “I got this. I’m a minimalist. I have barely any stuff. Our closets are pretty much empty. This move is going to be a piece of cake.” I thought I had it all under control. And when that moving truck pulled up to our new house, I was like, “Holy bleep, what is in there?”

Jane:                It’s crazy. When you see all your things into these big wooden shipping crates, how do I own this much stuff? And in the thing is you get a set amount of weight for a military move based on if it’s a single airman or if it’s an airman that has a family. And we’ve always been well below the limit. So I always thought, “We’re fine.” We know people that can’t move certain things because they’re above their weight limit if they do. And we’ve never had that problem. We joked that we can put my husband’s Mazda in the shipment and we’d still be underweight. That was one of our jokes when we left Japan.

But honestly, it’s still too much stuff. And then I realized too I don’t want the panic for myself, but then I don’t want the daily panic, the daily clutter of finding a way, a place to put all this stuff. Because as you know moving into your house, it takes a while to learn how your new house works. How it functions best for your family, and just even things like how you’re going to set up your kitchen. And when you’re struggling to even find a place to put something in, you can’t think in terms of how functional is this. You’re just trying to shove a door over, or shove another Crock-Pot behind that cabinet door. I don’t need three Crock-Pots. I don’t.

Denaye:            Yeah. And I feel like it’s easy on a daily basis to disconnect the emotional impact that your stuff has on you. But during a move, it becomes so evident.

Jane:                Yes. And I remember my landlord
is the cutest Italian old woman that you could have. When I had this dream that
I’m going to move to Italy and I want this Nona, Nona means grandma in Italian.
To teach me how to do things and take me under her wing. It was totally just a
dream. And when we found this house, I got that Nona. She is part of our family
now. I love her to death. Her name is [Silvana 00:33:28], and she volunteered
when my stuff arrived to help me unpack my house. And now this is a 70 year old
woman who doesn’t speak a word of English.

Denaye:            Did you speak any Italian?

Jane:                I spoke very beginner Italian. I
had been studying for a few months, but now I’m fine. But when we moved here,
it was a struggle. And she kept looking around and she kept just saying
[Italian 00:33:56] which means, “All this stuff. All this stuff. There’s
so much stuff.” And I was so embarrassed.

Because if you grew up in a home like this from the beginning with no storage, I’ve learned in Italy how wasteful we can be. Even with things like doing your trash and your recycling, which was a big part of my original Mental Unload in your very first Mental Unload group. I didn’t realize how stressed out I was about putting my trash out every day. But it’s because I was used to hauling this trash out on every Monday or whatever it was in the states in this giant rolly container, and then I just had to remember to do it the next Monday. And everything would go in this huge container.

And here it’s like Mondays is my food trash, and Tuesdays is recycling, and Wednesdays is paper, and Thursdays is trash. But you only get a little bag. You don’t get unlimited trash. I don’t know. Every day is a different type of waste, and you realize how much waste you create when you see it all every morning in its own category lined up, and you see your neighbors and how little they have compared to you.

Denaye:            Do you feel like some of this is because there just isn’t quite as much stuff readily available for purchase there? They don’t have Target, right?

Jane:                They don’t have Target. Oh
Target. I know, for better or for worse. I mean yes and no. We live outside
Pisa, which is a good sized city. There is a, I call it Italian Walmart because
it’s blue I guess versus Italian target. Because Walmart is blue and Target is
red. It has everything you would need in this one shop. But in general, in
other smaller towns especially, they don’t have anything like that. And then if
you have a little car or no car at all, if you use public transportation,
you’re not buying more than you need. And their food is also less, I don’t want
to say less process because they sell plenty of processed food. But in general,
you go to the store multiple times a week to get your fresh food. And you don’t
have one giant Costco trip and you bring it all into your house at once.
Because I think there isn’t the space to put it all. So they go shopping every
couple of days and things.

It’s opened my eyes to, there’s other ways to do this than the way that I have been doing before. Which really wasn’t working because I wouldn’t have been as completely stressed out about my move, and my things, and my stuff if it was working. But now I know that when we get the next orders and we find out where we’re moving beyond here, I’m going to be ready. I’m going to be welcoming those moving trucks to come in because I’m going to be ready. I will know that the things in my house are the things I want in my house.

Denaye:            Yes. Now where did you start when it came to this stuff? Did you start with your clothes, with the toys, or what did you do first?

Jane:                I started, I don’t even know. I
did a lot of starting with the toys because when we moved from Washington DC, I
left a lot of stuff there and donated a lot of stuff because my daughter was at
that point, almost 18 months old, my youngest. And she was out of those baby
toys. We left her crib there. I was just like I can’t bring and set this crib
up another time. We’ve set this crib up three times. I can’t do it again. I got
rid of a lot of toys when we moved here. And then once we got here is when I
started doing a lot of my clothes because I didn’t have a big closet. I have a
three foot wide wardrobe, and that’s where all my clothes need to hang up.

So I got rid of a lot of clothes, and I have access to some pretty nice shopping here in Italy as far as clothes go. So I really went for quality over quantity. I really try now to be much more thoughtful about what goes into my wardrobe. It’s really opened up a lot of just freedom in that because I wash laundry every day. And so I don’t need to have a ton of clothes because the longest my clothes goes is maybe two days without being available to be clean. So I have most of my wardrobe available to me at all times, so it doesn’t need to be that big.

And the temperature here is fairly mild. Most of the year it gets really hot, but it never gets extremely cold. And so it’s easier to have less. I don’t have to worry as much about a giant span of temperatures, so that’s nice.

But yeah, I started with clothes and toys. Then it slowly has moved into other areas of the home. The kitchen, I did that more recently, which was a big help. And it’s slowly trickled into some of my husband’s things. I’ve not forced him to do his things, but I do have this master list of before we move again. And one of them is to go through his two bins of, they’re just in the garage and they just say, Derrick’s stuff on them. “We’re not leaving this country without you opening those bins, and touching everything in them and saying if you really want it.” He’s like, “No, no, we’ll do it. We’ll do it.” He’s on board.

But it’s nice because I see now with the children, they’re not overwhelmed by their things. And everything has a spot for their toys, and it makes cleaning up easier. It makes them finding the things they need without my help easier. It’s ingrained in them I guess now that my daughter said, because her birthday is coming up and she said, “Mom, maybe before my birthday I should go through the toys and pick out the ones I don’t play with much anymore to make room for some new toys I might get for my birthday.” And I loved that because though we don’t try to just shower her with a million gifts, she does know that on her birthday she gets some new toys. But she didn’t just automatically think I get all these new toys. She goes, “I’ll give away the ones I don’t play with so much anymore.” And she just says it on her own now because I’ve had that be a part of her life the last two years that she thinks that way now. Which is great.

Denaye:            Now are your kids mostly friends with other Italian kids or other American kids?

Jane:                Both. They go to an Italian
school, so every day they’re with their Italian classmates. And we do have some
American friends that are nearby that we’re friends with as well. so they get a
mix of both, which is pretty cool.

Denaye:            I kind of wonder, hearing about your life now and how it sounds so much lighter and simpler than when you were living in the US. Do you feel like the way that your house, the lightness of your house and of the lifestyle that you’re living is almost similar to what most Italians are doing on most days? Or is it different?

Jane:                That’s hard to answer because I
feel like just like Americans, there’s a lot of Italians that live different
lifestyles from one another. In general, sometimes I feel like our life is
actually a little bit slower in some areas. My daughters attend the same
preschool. It’s a very small country school up in the countryside here. There’s
about 20 kids in the whole school, ages three, four, and five. So they’re together
in the same little school.

And it seems like many of their classmates are in a lot of activities, be it swimming lessons, or they go to a music class, or they have a sport that they do. And my kids aren’t involved in any extracurriculars right now. But I also feel like a lot of the Italian families near me have a lot of family support. I see grandparents picking kids up from school, and they’re the ones that are going to go take them to swim class, not mom and dad. They stick closer to home than we do. We travel a lot, and so we simplify our daily life at home so we can have that flexibility to travel without worrying about missing a dance recital or something like that.

Though I have asked my children if they want to do things and they tell me no, they don’t want to. So that helps that I don’t feel like I’m taking anything away from them at these young ages by not having them in an extracurricular activity. But I don’t know, in some ways I feel like I’m a little slower than their lives. But Italian parents have definitely taught me how to slow down and relax when it comes to being with my kids.

So it’s a back and forth. I can’t say it’s a blanket thing that all Italians have a slower lifestyle. But sometimes I definitely feel like I’ve learned a lot from the Italian culture and living here.

Denaye:            Okay. And that makes sense. I guess that’s what I was thinking because when I think about Italy and some other parts of Europe as well, I think about just having this slower culture where you can sit down and enjoy your cup of cappuccino or whatever it is that you’re drinking. And really be present. I’m sure that that’s not, to some degree that’s true, but not necessarily across the board.

Jane:                I think Italian moms can get
caught up in race to do everything, too. A lot of the women here have jobs, and
are trying to do at all as well. And I think just like any other parents, they
want to give their children opportunities. And the things that the American
mothers struggle with as well. But I do think that the way that they can sit
down at a meal with their family and friends at our restaurant for hours and
just let the kids play and be there and be a part of it, is something that I
had to learn to do. That was really hard for me when we first moved here to
just relax and let that time spent with others just happen. I always thought we
have to be doing something or the kids need structure, and what are they going
to do at a restaurant for two hours? And I figured it out, and it’s not that
hard anymore. Yeah. So in that sense, you do have that slower pacing. So in
some ways, you do get that slower life.

Denaye:            So now that you’re in Italy and you can’t work, how do you feel like that’s impacted your emotional wellbeing? And have you found anything to give you that stimulation?

Jane:                So I was actually really worried
about that because I felt that I had found a pretty good balance between
working and being a mom. Literally right before in the months leading up to our
last move, because we weren’t expecting to move. It was a surprise thing. So I
was really worried about that.

So I knew I needed to do something to keep myself feeling challenged. So I really dove into language study, and we invested money as well as time into saying this is worth it for me to learn Italian, because we want our children to go to Italian school, which means I need to be able to talk to their teachers and the other parents to form a community. My husband’s going to be using Italian everyday at work, and I want to be able to be a part of his community, and meet his friends, and not be on the side and stuff. So that was a big priority was getting me Italian lessons and the time to study. So that has helped a lot.

And then since we’ve moved here, we’ve been traveling a lot. Obviously with Italy at our fingertips for just three short years we have to see as much as we can. So I’ve really learned … we’ve always loved to travel, but this was the first time we really were traveling with our little kids. And I’ve really learned to enjoy planning the trips and being on the trips of course. And then I’ve started a travel blog to share some of that. I had a lot of friends say, “Jane, you need to write some of this stuff down because people are going to want to know how to go to the places you’ve gone to with little kids. People think you can’t take little kids on a wine tour,” and things like this.

So I started a travel blog, which I’ve never been a writer. I’m a math and numbers person, and so this was a big, scary, new adventure I suppose. But it’s been really fun and given me another outlet that I’ve enjoyed doing. And this is honestly the first time since becoming a mom that I feel like I don’t need anything more. I’m very content, and it feels good, and it feels good to not be identified by what I do or what I don’t do.

And that’s a thing actually I love about the Italian culture. Is it might take you months to find out the job of the people that you talk to every day at your kid’s school or the job of the spouse. I know what my husband’s coworkers do for a job because they work together, but I don’t even know what some of their wives do because you don’t talk about work. You talk about everything else. work is just a thing you do. It’s not who you are.

So that has been so wonderful that people don’t ask me. Every once in a while they say, “Did you work in the states?” And then I’ll go into my background a little bit. But oftentimes they don’t. They just ask if I’m loving it here in Italy. There’s so much you can talk about that’s not your job. And so that was really nice to say finally, I’m not defined by what I do or what I don’t do. I’m defined by who I am, and that’s enough. I’m in a really good spot with that.

Denaye:            Oh, I love that. So what is the name of your travel blog? I want to put that in the show notes.

Jane:                Sure. So my website is
littletripstravel.com. And I also have an Instagram, which is
@littletripstravelblog. So yeah, littletripstravel.com for the website, and add
the blog to the name for my Instagram account. And I’m also on Facebook at
@littletrips.

Denaye:            Great. I’m definitely going to put those links in the show notes. Because I know that I’m always looking, whenever we’re planning a trip, I always go looking for blog posts for people who’ve been there with kids, and the things that they’ve loved to do with kids. And I am definitely on board with you in the sense that you can take kids anywhere. But sometimes, having a little bit of guidance in some of the better things and better areas to lean towards with kids can be really helpful. And there’s not enough out there.

Jane:                No, for sure. And I definitely
try to focus. We went to Greece on a vacation. I’m not an expert on Greece. I
can tell you what I did and what worked for us, but I’m not going to write on
my blog that I know how to go see Athens with children. But what I do know how
to do with kids is see Pisa because I live here. I can really bring in, if
you’re wanting to come to Tuscany and to Italy, I can bring in the half
tourist, half local approach because I’m a little bit of both when I’m here.
And I just enjoy saying hey, this is what I did in Greece, or in Paris, or
wherever I’ve gone. And it might not have worked great, but this is what I did.
So you can learn from it or not do what I do as well.

So it’s just been fun. It’s just a hobby blog, but for me it gives me that creative outlet and it gives me a sense of me sharing something I’ve learned with other people, because I usually like being the student. And so now I feel like if I’m putting in all this work to travel from my family, I can maybe help other families enjoy traveling with their kids more too.

Denaye:            Good. I love that. Well, thank you so much Jane. This has been a lot of fun talking to you.

Jane:                Thank you Denaye, I’ve enjoyed
talking with you as well.

Denaye:            Thanks so much for tuning in. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and my chat with Jane.

Mark your calendars for The Mental Unload. Enrollment opens next week, July 17th. Go to simplefamilies.com/unload for more details. Thank you for tuning in and for being a part of Simple Families.

The post SFP 165: Journey to Simplicity | Jane’s Story appeared first on Simple Families.

Jul 10 2019
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Rank #5: SFP 89: Soulful Simplicity [with Courtney from Be More With Less]

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This week, I am excited to be talking on the podcast with Courtney Carver from Be More With Less. On the blog and podcast, I frequently discuss the “how” of minimalism. But in this episode, Courtney takes us one step further. She explains why simple living is good for your heart, family, and future.

I just wrapped up Courtney’s brand new book, Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More. Courtney shares her story in moving from a stressed out, cluttered life to minimalism as a result of a devastating diagnosis. Her story is beautifully written–it will both lift you up and bring you to tears–I am not sure if I can say I have ever cried about someone else’s dog dying–but now I have.

Here’s quick excerpt from Soulful Simplicity that spoke to me:

I’m confident that because I got lost, disconnected, and turned upside down, I was able to come out even better on the other side and experience the kind of gratitude you just can’t tap into unless you know what it’s like to live outside of your heart. Not being yourself is exhausting and breaks you down from the inside out.

Simplifying my life was the way I remembered who I was. When we hear about the benefits of simplicity, we immediately think of organized sock drawers, clean countertops, and tidy bookshelves, but it’s much more than that if you want it to be.

Courtney is currently on a 15 city book tour–she will be here in NYC next week and I look forward to meeting her there! If you can catch her in a city near you, I highly recommend hearing her words and her story in person.

The post SFP 89: Soulful Simplicity [with Courtney from Be More With Less] appeared first on Simple Families.

Jan 08 2018
35 mins
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Rank #6: SFP 142: Organization for Everyone [with Rachel Rosenthal]

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In today’s episode I am chatting with professional organizer Rachel Rosenthal. If you are anything like me, you might struggle with complex organizational systems. Rachel is bringing her best tips to keep it simple and approachable–and maybe make 2019 your most organized year yet.

Show Notes/Links:

The post SFP 142: Organization for Everyone [with Rachel Rosenthal] appeared first on Simple Families.

Jan 16 2019
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Rank #7: SFP 68: How can I get my kid to stay in bed?

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In today’s episode I am sharing the best parenting advice I have ever heard along with my thoughts on keeping a small child in a bed.

The post SFP 68: How can I get my kid to stay in bed? appeared first on Simple Families.

Sep 07 2017
6 mins
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Rank #8: SFP 158: Practical Steps to Simple, Happy Parenting [with Desirae Endrees of Minimalish]

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I get to be on the other side of the table today! In today’s episode, I am being interviewed by the host of Minimalish, Desirae Endrees. I had the pleasure of being a guest on Minimalish last week and I loved our chat so much that I wanted to re-air this episode for you on Simple Families.

In this episode, I’m talking about how Simple Families got started (and about the other blog I had before Simple Families was born). Thanks to Desirae for having me on and letting me share this with you all.

Show Notes/Links:

The post SFP 158: Practical Steps to Simple, Happy Parenting [with Desirae Endrees of Minimalish] appeared first on Simple Families.

May 15 2019
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Rank #9: SFP 60: What are your thoughts on managing Legos?

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Today we are talking about Lego overload and how to contain it all. We also discuss great toys for older kids.

LINKS: 

The Toy Detox

The post SFP 60: What are your thoughts on managing Legos? appeared first on Simple Families.

Aug 10 2017
6 mins
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Rank #10: SFP 101: How I Feed My Family

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In our house, mealtimes are pleasant. My kids eat well and we enjoy each others company. I don’t have it all figured out, but I do have a Ph.D. in Child Development with a research background in child wellness. That means I use a combination of both research-based ideas and intuitive planning to help develop my kids into good-eaters. Not all these things are going to resonate with you and work for your family–but they have surely worked for mine.

Want to join in this discussion for the month of April as we talk all things food + family? SIGN UP HERE.

SHOW NOTES

  • We started out this way from Day 1
  • The Cardinal Rule of Feeding Children
  • The dinner table is enjoyable
  • We keep “meal windows”
  • Snacks are used carefully
  • We don’t talk about “likes and dislikes”
  • Food preferences are considered dynamic rather than static
  • There are no assumptions, other than that our children will eat well
  • I use backwards meal planning
  • We keep the food-prep and recipes simple
  • There’s no sugar

SHOW LINKS

The post SFP 101: How I Feed My Family appeared first on Simple Families.

Apr 03 2018
40 mins
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Rank #11: SFP 35: How should I discipline very young children?

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On the podcast today I am answering a question about how to discipline very young children.

The post SFP 35: How should I discipline very young children? appeared first on Simple Families.

Mar 29 2017
4 mins
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Rank #12: SFP 65: SPECIAL EPISODE: How to Choose a Preschool/Daycare

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In today’s special episode we take a closer look at choosing a preschool/daycare for your children. I explain how I made the decision for my own children and important factors to keep in mind during the process.

The post SFP 65: SPECIAL EPISODE: How to Choose a Preschool/Daycare appeared first on Simple Families.

Aug 30 2017
15 mins
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Rank #13: SFP 119: Living an Abundant Life with Less [with Rachelle Crawford]

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We are launching off a new 4-part series:  Journey to Simplicity. I am interviewing four real families about moving towards minimalism and how it has impacted their lives. 

Today I am chatting with Rachelle Crawford. Rachelle and her family of 5 live in Michigan. She felt a sudden call to minimalism 18 months ago and hasn’t looked back. In this episode we chat about her journey and the positive impact it has had on her own well-being along with the well-being of her family.

Show Notes/Links:

Stay in touch with Rachelle via:

The post SFP 119: Living an Abundant Life with Less [with Rachelle Crawford] appeared first on Simple Families.

Aug 08 2018
39 mins
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Rank #14: SFP 51: What do you give as birthday gifts?

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Gifting at birthday parties can be tricky for those trying to be intentional. In today’s episode I discuss my personal favorite gifts to give at parties.

LINKS:

This post contains affiliate links

The post SFP 51: What do you give as birthday gifts? appeared first on Simple Families.

Jun 14 2017
6 mins
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Rank #15: SFP 93: The Science Behind Outdoor Play + Movement [with Carla Hannaford PhD]

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In today’s episode, I talk with Carla Hannaford, world-renowned biologist and outdoor advocate, about her studies on the connection between movement and brain development. If you are brand new to learning about brain development, tune into episode 92 for a simple, quick overview before diving into this one.

The post SFP 93: The Science Behind Outdoor Play + Movement [with Carla Hannaford PhD] appeared first on Simple Families.

Jan 29 2018
38 mins
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Rank #16: SFP 111: How You Talk to Kids + Why it Matters [with Tracy from Zero to Five]

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The words that we speak to our children become their inner voice. And the average woman speaks 20,000 words per day. While we can’t always be intentional in the way we speak to our children, we can do better.

In today’s episode, author Tracy Cutchlow and I are discussing how to speak to our children. We talk about the impact that our words have and strategies for improving our language to encourage a “growth mindset” (+all about what that means).

Show Links:

The post SFP 111: How You Talk to Kids + Why it Matters [with Tracy from Zero to Five] appeared first on Simple Families.

Jun 13 2018
48 mins
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Rank #17: SFP 82: How do you handle whining/complaining?

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Dealing with a child that whines and complains a lot is draining. In today’s episode we talk about how we can help model the kind of attitudes we want to see in our children, along with how to validate their feelings without encouraging the unwanted behavior.

The post SFP 82: How do you handle whining/complaining? appeared first on Simple Families.

Nov 15 2017
7 mins
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Rank #18: SFP 154: Simplifying Parenthood [with Nicole Smith]

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Simplifying parenthood may sound like a lofty goal. But in today’s episode, I am chatting with Nicole Smith, a mother who has made huge strides. Nicole is sharing her ‘Journey to Simplicity’ that has happened over the past few months.

Nicole is a wife, mother of three children, and a former participant in the Simple Families: The Masterclass. She’s sharing her story about letting go of fear and watching her family flourish in simplicity.

Show Notes/Links:

Nicole Smith

Before and After of Nicole’s Kitchen:

Nicole’s Kitchen Before the Masterclass
Nicole’s Kitchen After (#1)
Nicole Kitchen After (#2)

The post SFP 154: Simplifying Parenthood [with Nicole Smith] appeared first on Simple Families.

Apr 17 2019
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Rank #19: SFP 43: How much should I expect my kids to clean up?

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Today we are discussing the best way to get your kid’s on board for clean up.

SHOW NOTES/LINKS:

The Toy Detox

The Cooperation Mini-Course

The post SFP 43: How much should I expect my kids to clean up? appeared first on Simple Families.

Apr 25 2017
5 mins
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Rank #20: SFP 31: How do I stop my kid from interrupting?

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Every parent deals with kids that interrupt. Today we are discussing two approaches of how to handle this challenge.

The post SFP 31: How do I stop my kid from interrupting? appeared first on Simple Families.

Mar 20 2017
8 mins
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