Most parents crave easy knowledge on how to raise our kids with as much simplicity as possible. The idea of a set of websites dedicated to providing simple, easy to use information on parenting, mothering, homeschooling, eating, and living sustainably seems too good to be true, but the Simple Media Network is just that. This network of websites has countless articles, interviews and reviews to streamline the information that parents need, and make their jobs just a bit more simple. We sit down with Kara Fleck of Simple Kids for an interview about the Simple Living Media Network, and what she sees as the role they all play.
How did the Simple Living Media Network begin?
Simple Living Media is the brain child of my friend, mentor, and boss, Tsh Oxenreider. Many of you probably know Tsh as Simple Mom and the author of the book Organized Simplicity. You can read about how Simple Mom got started in 2008 here.
In 2009, Tsh added Simple Kids as a compliment to Simple Mom. In 2010 she and her husband Kyle added the blogs Simple Organic, edited by Nicole Bennett, Simple Bites, edited by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque, and Simple Homeschool, edited by Jamie Martin, forming the Simple Living Media Network. The Simple Mom podcast just launched this past May, as well, adding another dimension to the network (and something fun to listen to while folding the laundry).
I was asked to become the editor of Simple Kids and stepped into the role in February 2010. To be honest, I jumped at the chance, as a long-time reader and fan of the blog. It truly is a dream gig and I have days that are so wonderful I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe I have the honor of working with such dedicated and talented writers.
I’m very blessed, not only by the company of the editors I work with in the network, but by the contributors I’m privileged to share the Simple Kids website with. These people truly live what they write, sincerely care about families and simple living, and are the real deal.
What We Believe:
:: People and families can live on and with far less than mainstream cultural norms lead us to believe.
:: Debt is not a tool, and instead puts people into needless bondage. Therefore, we believe that everyone should live within or below their means.
:: Life is not about consumption, and we can make a difference by wise stewardship of our resources, time, energy, money, and environment.
:: We value quality over quantity in all facets of life, from tangible items, to relationships, to aesthetics.
:: People are more important than things.
To encourage and equip people with what they need to simplify their lives.
Simple Living Media Staff:
(L to R) Nicole Bennett, Mandi Ehman, Tsh Oxenreider, Aimee Wimbush-Bourque, Kara Fleck, Jamie Martin
How do you structure the group of editors and how do you all work together?
As editor-in-chief, Tsh has taught me the value of having an editorial calendar and of respecting the time of those you work with. We all have families and our time with them is valuable. We try to work smart, not hard, so that what we do is a compliment to our family life, not a hindrance.
We exchange a lot of emails and we have monthly editor’s meetings where we discuss everything from features to ads to how our families are doing. We have a good time together, and there are lots of giggles during our meetings, but we make sure that the work gets done, too.
I think we work very well together. For such a diverse group, with such a variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise, we all seem to be a good compliment to each other. I think it helps that our core values are the same and we share a vision for what we’d like the network to grow into as a resource for families interested in simple living.
It also helps that we can be very honest with each other. You know how you hope in life to have that good friend, the one who loves you enough to gently tell you when an idea isn’t working or who can step in and pick up your slack when you need help? I have a whole group of those friends in the editors of Simple Living Media and our Advertising Director, Mandi Ehman.
It is so refreshing to be able to bounce an idea off of someone and know that you’re going to get honest and valuable feedback, the kind that really helps you grow as a writer and as a person.
What is your hope for the future of the Simple Kids?
I see Simple Kids as an invitation to parents to slow down and reconnect with the fundamentals of parenting. We don’t need the newest baby gadget or the latest handheld gaming device to offer our kids a happy childhood.
The fact that our readership continues to grow from month to month tells me that I’m not alone in the belief that parenting just shouldn’t be that complicated. It is time to get back to basics and make childhood simple again.
(image of Kara and her children – Jillian, Max, and Lucy Fleck)
Describe your site, what you provide to your readers, and what someone can gain from coming to your site.
I’m well aware that one family’s “simple” may very well be another family’s “complicated” so as the editor of Simple Kids I’ve made it my goal to gather together a group of contributors from a wide variety of parenting backgrounds and situations.
It isn’t possible to cover every situation, of course, and you’ve got to walk your own path in life. However, I do think we’ve got a good blend of writers and we are able to cover a variety of topics, such as single parenting, special needs, and working outside of the home. We also write about emotional development, family relationships, rhythm and routines, practical life skills, and crafts and seasonal celebrations, too.
I like to think that there is a little bit of something for every parent, and hope that a reader can find something useful and encouraging to take away with them each time they visit the site.
I think it takes a good deal of courage in this day and age of “more is more” to be willing to step out of the mainstream and making some different choices for your family. My sincere hope is that Simple Kids is a place of encouragement and sharing and that it is a resource that serves our readers well. My favorite posts are the ones where the comments seem to take on a life of their own as readers interact with each other.
I’m so pleased to introduce to Rhythm of the Home readers my sister sites at Simple Living Media.
Founded by editor-in-chief Tsh Oxenreider, Simple Mom is a productivity blog for home managers. In her words, “If we want to get things done and be fully present for all the things that are most important to us, we have to keep things simple.
This blog is a catalog of the resources, tips, and lessons to make that happen. It’s also stories and ideas from fellow parents who are right there in the trenches with you, wiping noses and running to the grocery store.
The goal of this blog is to help you live more simply. When we find solutions for cutting everyday life clutter, we’re taking care of our family, our home, and ourselves. And I firmly believe that when Mom (Dad, too) is doing well, the whole family thrives.”
At Simple Mom, you’ll find thoughts about the practical side of simplicity, such as:
:: managing daily life at home
:: budgeting and managing the family’s finances
:: cooking and eating well
:: taking time only for quality books, music, and movies
:: cultivating the dying homemaking arts — sewing, gardening, and the like
:: keeping paperwork to a minimum, and organizing the paperwork that is necessary
:: going greener without needing a PhD in eco-consciousness
:: decluttering, so we don’t waste time with the unnecessary
Simple Bites is a family oriented website dedicated to all things food and drink. Many, many of the recipes that the contributors share here end up in my family’s personal menu plan.
Edited by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque, “Bites” is a place “… to find practical cooking tips, nourishing recipes, and an encouraging perspective to help the everyday parent provide great food for the family. We’re a group of writers passionate about food, and we want to help you provide the best for your family.”
In Aimee’s words, “Cooking has always been my preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. My biggest inspiration is my mother, who was about 30 years ahead of the recent “real food” movement. She and my father homeschooled us four kids and raised most of our own food, which gave me ample ‘Little House on the Prairie’ opportunities as a little girl. Milking goats, collecting eggs, hauling wood, and baking bread were just a few of my daily activities.”
Aimee is my friend, so I will admit that I am a bit biased, but I have to tell you this: I bookmark a lot of recipes that I find on the web, but the recipes from Simple Bites are the ones that I consistently find myself making for my family. It truly is “real food for the family table” and reading her blog over the past year has changed my cooking, for the better.
Simple Homeschool is edited by Jamie Martin, who is also the founder of Steady Mom and the author of the book Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood.
Jamie has taught me a lot about motherhood as a profession and the importance of developing steady routines and how they can enrich and balance a homeschooling family’s day.
However, her advice is grounded in real life and personal experiences, so what she teaches parents is very realistic and doable. I think homeschooling parents especially put a lot of pressure on themselves and Jamie offers a gentle voice reminding us that nobody is perfect and that is okay.
From the Simple Homeschool website: “Homeschooling is not the answer to every educational problem. But it does allow families who pursue it to be intentional—to focus on each child’s strengths, to help with weaknesses, and to nurture family relationships.
These families realize that the goal of education is not just about making a living—it’s about creating a life. One full of richness, depth, success, and so much hope for the future.
Simple Homeschool is here to help. Our writers come from a variety of backgrounds and experience, but we have one common goal: we want the best for our children.”
Covering a wide variety of methods and philosophies, Simple Homeschool is an excellent resource for both seasoned homeschoolers as well as those just getting started on the home education path and also for parents looking to enrich their child’s traditional education, too.
Simple Organic is edited by Nicole Bennett. When I asked her about her hope for the future of the blog, Nicole said, “My hope is that, as we fill our blog archives with information, resources and our experiences, that Simple Organic will continue to be an indispensable guide to living a simple, natural lifestyle for our growing community of readers.
I’m hoping for continued growth and readership as we spread the word about making small changes that make a big difference, and that our blog will be a place where readers come for encouragement and guidance, learning from our writers’ own real lives and green lifestyle choices.
Simple Organic is about sustainable and healthy living for mainstream people. We cover green tips and trends, provide tutorials on repurposing items you already own, frugal crafts that celebrate nature and responsible living, and ways to improve your health and lifestyle with real food, natural remedies and homemade products.
This is a positive, family-friendly place geared to the average home manager interested in “greenifying” their home and lifestyle. We have no interest in piling on the guilt or preaching a hermit lifestyle.
We want to highlight the growing handmade trend, provide you with tips and tools that make it easier to be an environmentally-responsible steward, and help you pursue whole-body wellness through natural and healthy means.
Mostly, we want to show that being eco-wise really is family-friendly and simple.”
To learn more about the Simple Living Media ladies and their sites please follow the links below.
A favorite Simple Kids post:
A favorite Simple Mom posts:
Spring Cleaning: The Parenting Edition (by contributor Megan Tietz)
A favorite Simple Bites post:
The Picky Eater and Me: A Survival Guide (and a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Puree, too)
A favorite Simple Homeschool Resources:
A Favorite Simple Organic post, (and recipe to try):