Do you think you can’t embrace minimalism when you have kids? Here are some tips on how to be a minimalist when you have a family.
What is minimalism?
In a brief nutshell, minimalism is living with less. Getting rid of the excess and focusing only on the most important things in your life.
Most of the time this refers to getting rid of belongings, although minimalists can also declutter their calendars, email inboxes, and other non-tangible areas of their lives.
Why did I choose minimalism?
As a single mom of 2 living in an apartment, I don’t have a ton of space. My girls are small and they don’t care much about being tidy, but I like to have things in order (somewhat!) and not have to worry about having mounds of items here and there.
I wanted to manage my life and not have to spend my precious free time cleaning and putting things away (although with 2 little kids, I do end up picking clothes and toys and shoes up often).
When I started to seriously declutter and let go of items I didn’t need, I noticed many benefits:
- I have less to clean.
- I have less organizing to do.
- I can now find items easily.
- I have more time just being with my kids.
- I spend less time shopping (a benefit for me and my wallet!).
How minimalism helps your kids
Not only will you benefit from decluttering and working toward living a more minimal lifestyle, but your kids will also reap the benefits:
Fewer toys mean more creativity. Studies show that having fewer toys encourages creativity and more focused play. Kids can have all kinds of fun with a cardboard box or a good quality set of blocks or Legos!
Less clutter means less distraction and overwhelm (for you too!). A room full of toys or too many clothes to wear ensures that your child will be more overwhelmed and easily distracted.
Teaches kids that you don’t need lots of things to be happy. Having fewer toys teaches kids to be less materialistic and reduces entitlement.
How to live within our means and make thoughtful purchases. Kids will learn to focus on living within a budget by making thoughtful purchases and avoiding excess.
How to share with others. Owning fewer toys encourages sharing between siblings (and creative problem-solving too) and also sharing with those less fortunate.
Teaches gratitude. Kids learn to be grateful for what they do have.
How to start minimalism in a home with kids
First, you have to be realistic.
If you have kids, you will NOT have a perfectly pristine house and you can’t get rid of every extra thing you own. Your kids will need lots of extras that you don’t (clothes, for example).
Kids make messes that need to be cleaned up. They may need more clothing changes (or bed sheets changes after the middle of the night vomiting due to a stomach bug – don’t ask me how I know this!)
Lead by example
If you want your family to get on board with minimalism, you need to set an example yourself. Start with decluttering and downsizing your own items first, before you try to encourage your family members to look at their possessions.
Related: How to simplify mom life
Consider your own family
You can’t go through the house getting rid of things that belong to your husband or kids.
I gave away my daughter’s favorite jacket without telling her when she was 4 and I still feel a bit guilty about it!
If you think your kids won’t ever give up anything don’t worry, they will, especially if they see you freely giving your own things away AND you don’t throw away their things without asking (which will break their trust).
When you have kids, you can’t just do a major declutter one weekend and call it good! Kids outgrow clothes and toys, seasons of life shift and you need to periodically get rid of stuff.
You’ll need to:
- go through and get rid of old, broken, unneeded toys
- limit items coming in (you can use the “one in, one out” rule to keep the total amount of items in your home to a limit)
- shop with necessity – only buy items that you truly need and will use (I used to go shopping – and buy things – just for fun!)
I like to purge at the end of each season. My girls and I go through their clothes and collect all the unworn or small items and give them away. I also chat with my girls about what toys they don’t play with and want anymore.
I ask my girls and sometimes gently remind them “We haven’t played with this a lot” and that helps them give it away.
Related: Easy tips for organizing toys
Implement daily routines
Even after you have thoroughly decluttered your whole house you will still need to have daily routines in place in order to keep your home clean and tidy.
Related: Daily routines to an organized home
Related: Keep a tidy home with little kids
Related: Meal planning made easy
Look at how consumerism affects you
Do you watch a lot of television and find yourself influenced by the commercials?
Do you want to keep up with all of the latest electronic gadgets (even when the ones you have work just fine)?
Do you feel a need to keep up with your neighbors?
Avoid TV commercials
Let’s face it – all commercials want to sell you (or your kids) something. If your kids don’t see it, they won’t know that they “need” it or want it.
Focus on experiences vs. tangible gifts
Finally, if your family members are big gift givers, your kids will probably have more than enough toys. Try to encourage people to give your kids the gift of experiences, like:
- music or sports lesson
- museum passes
- a trip to a favorite theme park
- tickets to a concert
Minimalism with kids is not impossible. If you set a good example and talk with your kids, you can move toward a more peaceful, less-cluttered lifestyle. Some people have even taken this to an extreme by giving away most of their belongings and traveling full-time in an RV! I’d love to know what you’ve done to embrace minimalism with kids in your home!