Minimalism with Kids
In my previous post I talked about some tips on how to attack the clutter in your house. Now I want to talk about minimalism with kids and how to involve them in the process. Minimalism with kids might sound impossible with everything that comes with raising kids, but with a little work I have found that most of what I thought I needed really wasn’t a necessity. During this process I also had the thought that maybe I should just go through and clean out their things myself, but then I thought, how would I feel if someone came through my house and started getting rid of everything without consulting me first? I would be furious and go into a panic. None of us would appreciate that being done. Kids are the same way and they should have some say in what they want to keep and what they want to donate and throw away. We have three kids, 11, 4, and 21 months. I started this whole minimalism journey before our youngest was born so I only had to concentrate on the two kids and their “stuff”.
I started with our 4 year old (at the time she was 2 1/2) because I figured she would be the easiest, being so young. All of the toys that we had in rotation and that she hadn’t touched for months and months I went ahead and donated and gave away. When it came to everything else I let her have a say in what she wanted to keep and what she wanted to give away. I explained to her that she has so many toys and clothes that she doesn’t even have time to play with them all or wear them all. And there are lots of kids that don’t have any toys or their parents/family aren’t able to buy toys for them. Once I explained that she would be making other kids happy by giving them some of her clothes and toys she was excited to donate her things to help other people. We started with the mountains of stuffed animals, looking at each item to make sure it was in good condition, then deciding if it was one that she loved and wanted to keep or if she wanted to give it to another child to play with. We managed to cut back her stuffed animals by about 75%. We did the same thing with her toys and we were able to cut them back drastically as well. After all of the toys were taken care of we moved onto her clothes. I tried everything on her. Set aside what didn’t fit and what she never wore. Then we went through and I asked her if she liked the item of clothing and if it was comfy. We ended up with about of a third of her clothes left after it was all said and done. It was quite a process and took a a good 6 months but it has been worth it.
My next endeavor was our 11 year old. Again, at the time she was about 9. She was a bit of a challenge. She has never really had to give away her things especially for the fact of having too much. Plus, she is a very sentimental person, she holds onto everything but then forgets about it because she has so much. She has a very strong emotional attachment to her “things”, even if she never uses it or looks at it. It’s hard for her to separate with them and realize that she can still have the sentiment without the item. We started out small again with the piles of stuffed animals she had. What is it with kids and stuffed animals? We went through each stuffed animal and she decided she wanted to keep every single one. Each one was her favorite (even though they are always shoved in a dark corner and she doesn’t even glance in that direction anymore). I used the same tactic I did with our other daughter and explained to her that she has an enormous amount of excess and there are so many kids that don’t have anything and are far less fortunate than us. And then I proceeded to explain to her the joy she could bring to other children simply by donating a few her toys, clothes, etc. After some serious coaxing she managed to set aside three stuffed animals and two toys. Her clothes were easier because anything that didn’t fit or she didn’t like anymore she didn’t have a problem giving away. It took a few months to get her room under control and we are still working on it to this day. She definitely still has a hard time parting with her things but every time we go through this process it starts to become a little easier for her and she always feels good about herself for helping out someone else.
When we found out I was pregnant with our youngest I made a conscience effort to only buy what I needed. Nothing more and nothing less. Let me tell you, it was such relief and so much easier to keep up with everything by having less baby stuff. You always see these “Must Have” lists on Pinterest when you’re getting ready for baby and in reality most of the things on there aren’t a necessity their just a “nice to have” item. I decided to start with less from the get go. Less toys, less clothes, less gadgets, less furniture. I had so much more time to focus on important things, like snuggling with the kids and reading books together, having some lazy days in bed on the weekends, spending more time together as a family, etc. I wasn’t as concerned with mountains of laundry to do or having an endless amount of toys strung out every where because that wasn’t an issue anymore. Now don’t get me wrong we still had toys and laundry but it only takes 5 minutes to put all those toys away and I can finish all of our clothes in a day (as long as I don’t forget that they were in the washing machine).
If you decide to go down the road of minimalism with your kids it can be challenging at first depending on how old they are and how attached they are to their things, but if you keep with it slowly over time you will make progress. Your kids will be less stressed, their mental health will benefit from it, and you will be teaching them an excellent lesson in giving to others in need and that material things aren’t what is important in life. I have found that children usually want to help others, they are very compassionate, and they like to feel like they are doing something important. I hope you have found some encouragement/inspiration from my first minimalism series and I hope you found some tips to help you out along the way.