Becoming more minimal in their home and more conscious of their waste spurred Larissa and her husband, Jeremy, to look into using cloth for their son, Mal. Add a love for laundry and a newfound understanding that cloth can be simple, and you have a mother on a fast track to cloth nappy love. Larissa is a kind-seeking ocean lover, minimalist and business owner. Read on to learn about her passion for natural toys and homewares, non-corny apparel and simple switches that can make a big difference.
Welcome, Larissa @thesimplejones
Tell us a little about yourself, your family, and where you live?
My name is Larissa and I live on the Central Coast with my husband Jeremy, son Mal and golden Labrador, Finnegan. Jeremy and I both moved here when we were kids and we’ve loved growing up by the ocean – it’s our favourite place to be. We feel so blessed to be able to raise our little boy here as we start our (hopefully big!) family. It’s wonderful having lived here for a while too, because we’ve really been able to build our tribe over the years – which is especially helpful now that we’ve got a baby!
You and your husband are small business owners, working together, from home. Can you share your dream of a work-from-home lifestyle and you made it happen?
Jeremy and I work from home running two small businesses: Page and Pine and Salt of Australia. We’ve been working from home together for 4 years now and love it! Although it definitely has its challenges. Since the beginning we’ve been very disciplined about never taking work into our bedroom – not even our phones or laptops. This has been our saving grace in terms of maintaining somewhat of a work life balance, which is something that is often very difficult when working for yourself or working from home. That balance has fluctuated over the years, but we feel like we’ve come to a really good place with it now, where we finish work at 4pm and spend time together as a family for the rest of the day. This was a really good habit to have established before welcoming Mal into our lives! Work looks a little different now, taking turns working/caring for our boy, but we’ve learned to make the most of our work hours and not waste time! We like to live simply and not own too many possessions, never feeling the pressure to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ so to speak.
We’d love to know more about your business passions. Can you tell us about Page & Pine and your passion for natural toys and homewares?
Page and Pine was kind of born accidentally, after I made one baby mobile for my new niece. Friends encouraged me to make more and I started looking on Instagram at kids decor pages and was just so inspired to start something new – something I could make! Jeremy jumped on board with his engineering background and somehow we ended up with two big laser cutters and a BIG small business – with a lot of hard work and tweaking! We have always loved woodworking and really don’t like having plastic in our home wherever we can avoid it (especially with kids toys!), so it kind of just developed from our passions there.
Can you tell us about Salt of Australia and how you came to recognise there was a gap in the market for Christian tees that are actually cool?
Salt of Australia is very new, just a few months old but we are feeling very thankful for how it is going so far! We really wanted to create something that wasn’t on the market – a Christian surf brand that us and our friends would actually love to wear. A lot of the time Christian apparel can be a bit corny, which is why you don’t see it a lot in Australia. And clearly Aussies are loving it, because we’re watching it grow daily!
If you could only choose one of your products to recommend to new parents, which would it be and why?
My favourite product that we create through Page and Pine would be our puzzle Height Charts. I just think it is so special to have something your family can keep for generations and watch your family grow over the years!
Tell us about your hopes for raising your son. Will his childhood be different to your own? Do you subscribe to any parenting philosophies?
We really hope to raise our son to be a kind, generous and joyful person. Jeremy and I both had very active and outdoor childhoods, which we loved! We hope to give Mal the same, so that means getting into good habits of making sure we all spend hours outside each day – which you’d be surprised how easy it is to spend the majority of your day inside. It’s something that we’re working on now while he’s a baby, so that it’s second nature for us as a family when more babies come along.
You are a keen minimalist where possible. How has that worked out since welcoming a baby to your family?
Minimalism is something that has become increasingly important to us since before we got married. We’ve found a lot of joy and freedom in letting go of a number of possessions that the world says you ’need’. Plus it makes tidying our house MUCH quicker – who doesn’t want that! Having a baby has been more challenging in this area, but I’ve just been gracious with myself during the process of figuring out what a baby actually NEEDS and what makes our life easier. It’s all a learning process with your first baby, I think! By the time our next baby comes along, I’m sure we will have culled baby items down to the essentials of what we as a family actually use.
For anyone wanting to live more simply with less, my recommendation is always to start at the shops. Before you cull anything from your home, you need to get good at questioning every purchase, asking yourself “do I really need that?” or “Will this really bring a lot of joy to my life?” Otherwise, you’ll do all the fun/hard work of culling your possessions only to find that a few months later you’ve filled your home up again.
Are you able to talk us through your decision to have a baby – did you always want to be a mother?
I have always wanted to be a mum! It just looked like the best job in the whole world and I’ve always adored kids. As I got older, motherhood began to look like more hard work and really tiring – I think that’s the vibe you get from social media a lot these days. So what surprised me since having our son was how much FUN it is! Jeremy and I were bone tired for the first 2 months but we were cracking up with each other every day about something baby related. Those joyful and funny moments really brought us together.
When we first held Mal in our arms – yikes! Can you even describe that moment? Complete euphoria. Just completely overwhelmed in the most incredible way. Birth is HARD WORK – but the reward is much greater. Since then, I think the moments that I’ve loved the most with Mal have been the days where I’ve just taken off work, laid on the floor with him and played. It’s so simple but that time is so bonding.
Can you talk us through what led you to using cloth nappies?
Originally I looked into cloth nappies because it seemed a lot cheaper to buy cloth for your first baby and use it year after year with your other babies to come. Becoming more minimal in our home and more conscious of waste spurred me on to really look into cloth. I’ve always loved laundry so I wasn’t worried about the extra washing. There’s something really nostalgic to me about hanging clothes on the line in the sunshine and running through cold, wet sheets in the breeze.
Can you tell us how you came to decide which nappy style best suited your family? Are you a one brand only kind of person or do you have multiple brands in your stash?
We originally grabbed a few of the Bare and Boho nappies from Aldi (yes, I was one of those crazy mums lining up!) and I loved the quality. They felt so special. We grabbed a few of the My Little Gumnut ones too because they were significantly cheaper, so I was happy to try a few brands and see what we liked the best. Since actually having Mal and starting him in cloth around 1 month old, I think my favourite are the Bare and Boho ones because they are so easy to change the insert and reuse the shell, sometimes all day! The My Little Gumnut ones really suited him when he was 2-3 months old because they are so soft and flexible. But I had to change the shells every nappy change, so I got a bit sick of that.
Since then we’ve also tried Pekpi, which I love because they are made of recycled plastic bottles! They are really streamline between the legs too, which I think is more comfortable for baby. But I do find them to leak a bit more often, which just requires me to keep on top of changing him more regularly. I was also given some of the Baby Behinds nappies from a friend, as well as their overnight nappies, but I’m yet to give the overnight ones a go. Mal is such a good sleeper right now that I just don’t want to mess it up haha! Also because we’re minimalists we only own 2 cot sheets, so I really don’t want to have to change those every night if he leaks.
Can you share your dream nappy print …
My dream nappy print is anything ocean inspired! Blue has always been my favourite colour and I just love seeing his little cloth bum crawling around.
You love to spend time in nature with your family. Tell us, have you taken on the challenge of camping with cloth yet?
We haven’t yet tackled cloth while camping, but we’ll give it a go next time!
What do you know now about cloth nappies you wished you knew when you first started out?
I wish I had known a few things earlier which would’ve helped me start cloth sooner than 1 month old:
What is the largest misconception about cloth you have come across and how have you responded to it?
I think a big misconception is that it’s harder to use cloth nappies while you’re out and about than disposables. Honestly, I haven’t even noticed a difference. The only thing that changes is simply putting the nappy in your wet bag, instead of putting the disposable in a plastic bag and finding a bin. I also feel really proud of myself every time I change his cloth nappies out in public, like other mums can see me doing it and feel inspired that it’s not too hard for them to try too!
If you could share only one piece of advice with families considering giving cloth a go, what would it be?
One piece of advice is to really have enough cloth nappies so that you don’t have to wash every single day and wait for them to dry. I’d recommend trialling a few nappies from a few different brands, and then really stock up on the brand you love the most. It’s a big initial expense, but so much more affordable in the long run. Also, give cloth wipes a go! They’re SO much better than disposables – no accidentally putting your finger in the poo!
What is the best way we can support others to use cloth?
The best thing I can do to support others in their cloth efforts is to keep using cloth out and about so others can see how doable it is. Once you get the hang of it, it really is quite simple and very rewarding!
Can you share a little about your wash and care routine and how you find the time to fit reusable nappies into your life?
My wash routine is super simple: Take the nappy off, throw it straight in the washing machine. The nappies pile up in the washing machine until the end of the day, where I run them on a 15-minute rinse cycle. The next morning I take them out and put them in a bucket. I’ll do this for 2-3 days, and then do a big 2hr load with all the rinsed nappies. I use disposable bamboo liners so I don’t have to scrub poo off the nappy. Then I hang them on the line for a full day of sun. If they’re not quite dry (cloudy day) then I’ll hang them inside overnight too. We don’t own a drier.
Describe the difference you hope to make for future generations by using cloth and making other environmentally friendly choices?
By using cloth, I hope we’ll inspire other families to rethink some of the things they may have considered ’too hard’ in regards to caring for our planet. Small, simple changes from each family makes a huge difference overall. Just looking at different areas of your life and asking yourself “is there a simple switch that I can make to be more sustainable?” Like using metal straws. SO simple, but makes SUCH a big difference when you think about the number of straws in landfill!
Describe your journey with cloth in one word.
Any final words of wisdom to live by?
I think being kind is the most simple way to have a happy life. You’ll never regret kindness.