Minimalism and kids, can it work? Well, yes, it can as long as you stick to a few provisos including not going too far, thinking carefully about what you invest in and what you get rid of, and educating and motivating your kids to embrace the lifestyle. Happily, all these things, and more I can offer you advice on in my post below. Just keep reading to get the minimalist details.
Kids and clutter tend to go together. Something that can be problematic for a minimalist lifestyle.
The problem with kid’ stuff
Kids, they sure do have a lot of stuff! In fact, our own hoards can pale into comparison when it comes to all the clothes, toys, and art and craft material that seem to collect around the little ones. Of course, the critical issue here is that you don’t want to deny them things or make them sit in a bare room with a single toy, but you don’t want to get to the point when stuff is overrunning your home either!
In fact, it’s all about striking a balance, as listenmoneymatters.com suggests a middle way. The idea being that they don’t have too little, but that they also don’t have so much that they can’t possibly use or play with it all. Something that, in fact, can interfere with them actually having fun because they are distracted and then move straight onto the next item.
A change of mind
To achieve this middle way, it’s important to change how you and your children think about the things that they own. For us adults, it can be easier to see that value of getting rid of anything that we no longer need, want, and love. However, our little one’s sense of self is less concrete, and so their attachment to items may be stronger. Therefore approaching this issue from a different angle may be helpful.
The primary way you can do this is to highlight the benefits of having less stuff to them. In fact, laying out the motivation can be a potent tool for everyone trying to achieve a more minimalist life when you have kids.
For some families, the motivation will be about having less stuff to manage and clean and spending more time together as a family doing fun stuff. For others, as becomingminimalist.com discusses it’s all about emphasizing that things don’t need to be loved, but people do. In fact, even the youngest of children will often grasp the idea that they can give away some of their old items to other children to help them. A lesson that teaches them not only to be less attached to objects but also to think of others apart from themselves as well.
A plan of action
Once you have explained to the kids the reason for becoming more minimalist, you will need come up with a plan of action. In particular, don’t try and clear out all of their items in one go. This is because not only will be overwhelming for them (and you), but they can quickly lose interest in the process as well.
In fact, choosing one area to minimize at a time is the best approach. Also before you start, be sure to have three boxes or distinct piles that you can sort item into. One for charity, one for broken or no longer usable items, and one for the stuff you are going to keep.
Once you have your overall plan of action in place, you can start on one of the areas in your home that need the minimalist treatment. The most obvious of which is usually wherever the kids keep their toy stash! Of course, depending on how out of control their toy collections have become, even dealing with just this one area can take multiple sessions, so don’t feel bad if you don’t get it all finished inside of an hour.
When dealing with toys be aware of facing some challenges as well, as there will be some items that the kids just flat refuse to get rid of even though they are broken or not played with anymore.
If you do come across such an issue, it can be helpful to put them in a separate pile and come back to them at the end, but remember if they still insist on keeping them it’s best to respect their wishes. After all, while you may not value the item, they still do, and getting rid of such items give them the message that they are not a part of the process, something that can cause more resistance or problems in the future.
Next, when dealing with minimalism and furniture in the kids’ rooms, remember that you can get around a lot of issues by thinking carefully about what you buy in the first place. In particular, buying items that can be used for several different purposes like the bed at mamasandpapas.com that converts from a cot to a toddler bed is a great idea, as then you only need one item for a longer length of time.
Additionally, choosing furniture items that can be easily refreshed if they become worn is always a smart move. Luckily, there are all sorts of furniture items that allow you to do this, including the covers you can get from places like at Fombag.com now, for oversized bean bags. These being the perfect minimalist item for the kids’ rooms as they are both fun and comfy, and are much more in line with the minimalist lifestyle because they are multi-functional, as well as easy to refresh.
Clothes are usually a bit easier to apply the minimal treatment to when it comes to the kids, as it is pretty obvious when things are getting too small for them, or they are past the state of being able to be worn.
However, do remember that even if you have items that are no longer wearable, you can follow the instructions at kalynbrooke.com and cut them up and use them for cleaning and dusting rags in the home instead of buying brand new ones.
Something that can not only save on the energy and resources that are needed to create them but also on the amount of waste you generate as a family. This being pretty important a minimalist life because you are getting the most use out of what you have, rather than needing to consume additional goods all the time.
Craft items can be hard to manage regarding minimalism because it’s often by having a vast selection that we can encourage the kids to get involved. However, just like toys having too much craft stuff can make it hard to organize and manage and even detract from the experience when we do use them.
To that end, when you are destashing the kids’ craft pile, it’s a good idea to think about what they use the most like working pens and pencils and keep those items first.
Look to get rid of things that are bulky and taking up space, but never seem to get used such as cardboard tubes, foils, and pasta. After all, as the post at parents.com shows these items can usually be found around the house if need be, so there isn’t much point holding onto them and using up valuable space. Of course whenever you get rid of any craft items, if you don’t donate them be sure to recycle!
The value of storage
Storage, now that is something that is worth investing in if you are trying to love a more minimal life with your kids. In fact, having places to store items and keep similar groupings of things together is essential.
This is because once an item is no longer immediately in use, it can be placed away in its storage container, keeping it off the floor, and reducing the amount of clutter in your home. Keeping items stored by type like this can make cleaning and tidying a lot easier as well, as its only takes a quick clear up and things to look neat again.
Lastly, storing items in groups as they do in this post at buzzfeed.com is also a great indicator of when clutter is growing out of control. After all, if you can’t fit the dolly back in the doll basket or draw, there is probably too much stuff in there in the first place, and it’s time to do a clear out!
Dealing with gifts and celebrations
One area that can be difficult to deal with when it comes to minimalism and the kids is celebrations and the inevitable gifts that they will receive. Presents that you may not have bargained for, and could quickly become clutter that comprises your minimalist lifestyle.
Of course, when you are buying you can minimize the issued by going for the want, need, wear, read formula you can find out more about below.
However, when items come from others, you’ll neither want to seem rude or deny the kids that experience. Here I think the best thing is to go through them as soon after the celebration as possible and let the kids keep what they like, the rest can go to the charity shop pile.
Don’t be duped into keeping things just because you feel you have to here either, as this is a valuable lesson you can learn and in turn teach to your children as well. Something that should not only keep your home as minimal as possible while you have kids but also set them up to live a life that is more focus on people and experiences than material possessions.