Minimalism with Kids? What You Need to Know Before You Get Rid of Your Stuff
Minimalism is a movement that focuses on removing the excess clutter in our lives in order to focus on what really matters.
Our journey to minimalism began years ago when God began opening our eyes to the consumer culture around us. It took us some time, however, before we started putting those thoughts into practice.
“We are a family of five. Was minimalism with kids really possible?”A few months ago, we decided it was time to make the leap and embrace the minimalist lifestyle. But we still had some hesitations. We are a family of five. Was minimalism with kids really possible? What would happen if we took away our children’s toys? What about downsizing our clothes? Could we each live with a capsule wardrobe? Well, now was the time to find out.
We spent three months removing toys, clothes, and excess clutter from our home. We were desiring more time with God, more time with our children, and more time outside. It was time to stop spending our days organizing and re-organizing our things. The benefits, these last few months, were enormous. We had less laundry, less stress, and a calmer home.
However, minimalism was not the answer to all our problems.
Being a minimalist family brought many benefits into our lives, but it was not everything we expected. Are you thinking about being a minimalist with kids?
Here is what you need to know before getting rid of all your stuff.
YOUR HOUSE WILL STILL GET MESSY
“We weren’t embracing minimalism. We were embracing MINIMALISM WITH KIDS. That’s right. We still live with three messy kids.”When we began embracing minimalism, we thought our house would stay clean. Makes sense, right? If we possess less, we have less potential of a messy house. Boy, were we wrong. Want to know why? Because we weren’t embracing minimalism. We were embracing MINIMALISM WITH KIDS. That’s right. We still live with three messy kids. Turns out kids don’t need toys to make a mess. Our kids can destroy a house in two minutes flat with some couch cushions, blankets, and every pot and pan they can find. Creativity abounds, but so does messiness! Minimalism with kids does not equal a perfectly clean house. It is faster to clean though!
YOU SHOULD TALK TO YOUR KIDS FIRST OR EXPECT MUTINY
Don’t get rid of your kid’s toys without talking to them about it. We got rid of some old McDonald’s toys and, who would have known, these trinkets were considered precious jewels to a few little ones. Phew, no need to start a war over McDonald toys. Minimalism is a process, especially for kids. Talk to your kids about why it’s important and how it gives space for more family time. Be an example and encourage your children to keep their favorites. Don’t force it. Start by putting extra toys in a rotation library for a few months and talk about donating the toys they never missed.
THERE WILL BE DAYS YOU WILL WANT TO QUIT
There will be days you will want to quit minimalism. There were days that we literally said, “Ugh, forget minimalism. Who needs this anyway? We will just *deal* with the chaos!” As a mom, you can’t declutter your house and expect it to stay that way. Children are constantly bringing things home. Go to story hour, come home with a beaded necklace. Go to school, come home with treasure box toy. Go to the dentist, come home with a little trinket. Go to a birthday party, come home with a goody bag. And that’s just the free stuff! The amount of stuff coming into your house is endless. It is easy to give in and allow the clutter to take over. Know that you’ll have days you want to quit. That’s okay. Keep at it.
YOU MUST BE OKAY WITH SACRIFICE
“There will come a time when you don’t have what you need. Don’t go out and buy it.”As a minimalist, you will encounter times when you “need” an item you don’t have. Maybe you are attending an event and don’t have appropriate attire. Perhaps you have been invited camping, but you got rid of your camping gear because you haven’t camped in years. There will come a time when you don’t have what you need. Don’t go out and buy it. That’s right, you heard me. Don’t go out and replace it. We often think we need things, but, in reality, we can live without. If you absolutely can’t go without, see if you can borrow. You’ll be surprised how many people around you are willing to share what they have.
MINIMALISM IS NOT MEANT TO BE LEGALISTIC
It’s okay to own things. It is good to bring beauty and joy into your home. Want to have lovely decor? Surround yourself with those things! Minimalism does not have to mean white walls and owning less than 100 possessions. Do you have loving family and friends blessing you with gifts? What a blessing! Embrace those gifts. These things bring joy and love into your life! Minimalism is not meant to remove joy.
MINIMALISM LOOKS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE
For some, minimalism may include living in a tiny home and living with only the neccesities. For others, minimalism may involve living in a 4-bedroom house in the suburbs. It doesn’t matter how many things you own. What matters is your mindset. The idea of minimalism is to remove your distractions in order to focus on what truly matters. It is not about counting your possessions.
IT MAY FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE AT FIRST
If you are used to living in clutter, you may not know what to do when it’s all gone. It can feel uncomfortable and bare. It forces you to focus on things that you may not have thought about before. If you have been hiding behind your possessions, this can be an unnerving process. Seek encouragement from other minimalists.
MINIMALISM WILL NOT CHANGE YOUR PRIORITIES
“You will always have time for what you put first”-Anonymous Minimalism will backfire if you don’t remember why you are doing it. If you constantly focus on how many things you own and whether or not you should buy something, your priority is still things. You must be clear on why you chose minimalism and remember that reason during this process. If you removed clutter in order to have time to read your Bible, don’t use your time to go on Facebook. Read your Bible. You will always have time for what you put first. YOU choose how you spend your time. It doesn’t matter if you have a house full of stuff or an empty apartment.
What comes first in your life has nothing to do with your possessions. It has to do with your priorities.
Minimalism can help you remember your priorities. But, in all honesty, it is up to you. Embracing minimalism will not bring you less stress, more time with your children, or more time with God. Unless you want it to.
M inimalism is a great tool to guide you in the right direction, but it is not the magic formula for a perfect life.
It comes with challenges, discipline, and constant awareness of why minimalism matters. It is easy to give up on minimalism, especially with kids, and embrace a consumer culture. Don’t give up. And if you do (we’ve quit multiple times), remember why God was calling you to it in the first place. It is worth it.
Blessings as you continue or embark on your journey to minimalism.
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