Is minimalism and motherhood possible?

Cary Fortin, who many of you have heard before on the podcast, is joining us again today to talk about minimalism, motherhood, and decluttering. Cary is a writer, a storyteller and a designer, and she is the co-founder of New Minimalism, a company focused on de-cluttering and design. She and her business partner, Kyle, help people regain meaningful relationships with their stuff and their things through organizational philosophy and design.

They founded the company in 2011—before the Marie Kondo craze hit—and they started their business by going into people’s homes and helping them find a new way with their things. In 2018 they released their first book, New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living. The beauty of this book is in its deeper philosophy, behind why we have things and what we surround ourselves with and what to do about them.

Behind all of our stuff are a series of questions: What is the purpose and the joy of the space? Who is it serving, and why? What are the meanings behind the things you have, and what do you want the space to do for you?

In this episode, we talk about rethinking your spaces and how to do so with intention, compassion, and understanding. Moreover, I ask her about minimalism, motherhood and staying sane in the chaos of kids:

  • What do you do when you have the chaos of a toddler, or all those endless things it seems like babies need?
  • How do you set boundaries and communicate a sense of simplicity amidst the madness, and is it even possible?
  • Do you really need a baby shower, or a registry—and if so, what should you put on it?

The Startup Pregnant Podcast Episode #135



  • I kind of whispered under my breath — I’m doing this simple living thing and I like it. It feels great.
  • No one in our lives was talking about living with less and reducing the amount of stuff we own. We weren’t raised this way. But it felt really good. All of these things that were supposed to be hard, that were supposed to be a trade off if you didn’t buy one more thing—it turned out to be a reward unto itself.
  • When we started our company, all the people talking about minimalism seemed to be single white men. We wanted a different kind of minimalism.
  • It’s not less stuff just to pursue a goal of having the fewest items. It’s about loving where you live, and making a home that looks and feels beautiful.
  • When we work with clients, we go into their homes with them. We walk around. We ask them, “How do you feel when you walk into your house? How do you wish you felt? What is it that you’re making space for in your life? Why is now the right time to do this?” We want to understand how they want a space to make them feel.
  • Getting clear and cleaning your space is about making very empowered, intentional long-term decisions, because lots of times clutter is just a bunch of decisions you haven’t made yet.
  • In letting things go, we are often acknowledging painful things that have happened. It takes courage to rewrite that story, kindly and gently, and update the internal narrative of who we view ourselves to be.
  • When you get a gift from a relative, or a grandparent, that you don’t want—you can allow the moment of the gift giving and receiving to be really beautiful. To know that this person thought of your child and is attempting to express love. Genuinely thank them for thinking of you, for loving you, for treating you kindly. Then, separately, you can decide if that objects serves you and your family.
  • I think a part of the reason why I love minimalism is that extraneous noise in visual things really distracts me.
  • Is there a person on this Earth who is busier than a mom? Or a parent or a working parent like or a person who’s starting her own business? I don’t think so. How fierce you’ve got to be about protecting your time. For me, it’s also how fierce I try to be about protecting my space.


  • In Startup Pregnant—both as a parent and as a business owner—there is no doing it all. You have to pick. You have to decide. You have to figure out, what is the thing that I stand for? What is the thing that I choose? More importantly, what are the things that I’m actively not choosing? I think there’s a fear or paralysis that comes up when it’s like, “Ah, I want all the things like I have to have a beautiful kitchen and make all the food and do all of this and have a clean house and have a perfect couch.” I don’t think that’s possible. I think there’s a lot more freedom in choosing to have a messy couch because you want to write more.


If you want our guide to help you stop doing it all in your business, check out our guide at You can also buy the book based version of this guide and read all of our latest minibooks at


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