If you’re drowning in clutter and ready to make a change towards minimalism with kids, this one is for you.
Minimalism with kids IS possible, and with a few small tweaks, you can get started on the path.
What is minimalism?
It’s doing with less so you can live a happier life. I love the way the Minimalists describe it.
“Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”
So many of us feel trapped by all the toys, the jobs, the cars, the debt, the big houses, but none of it is truly making us happen and is only adding to our stress, which makes us also unhealthy.
While there are different forms and versions of minimalism, including the trendy minimal aesthetic, when you boil it down to the bare bones of what it means to be a minimalist, to me it means that you try to make do with as little as you can in order to live more simply and create a little waste as possible.
How do you lead a minimalist lifestyle?
This can be a simple or as complex as you want, and as detailed or involved as you want.
A minimalist lifestyle for some means living in an all-white and beige tiny home furnished with only a few sustainable pieces of furniture, only as many plates and pieces of silverware as your family needs each day, and only having a small number of possessions.
For others, it means focusing on living sustainably on a homestead where they grow all their own foods and drink from a well on their property.
And for many, it just means doing our best to reduce, reuse, recycle, and live more simply than we have in the past. So instead of using plastic bags at Target, bring reusable ones, or instead of continually buying plastic toys for your kids, trying to swap some out for eco-friendly wooden toys when possible.
It doesn’t have to be extreme.
Can you be a minimalist if you have kids?
Yes! The more people in your family and in your home, the more complicated it can get to keep things minimal whether those are kids or adults. More people usually means more stuff, more opinions, and more consumption in general.
But below we are going to talk about a few simple ways to be more minimalist with kids.
Is minimalism good for kids?
Totally! Minimalism can teach kids about gratitude and how to appreciate what they have. It’s about finding abundance in simplicity instead of going with the flow of consumerism which requires us to spend and accumulate more and more in order to find happiness.
Minimalism is a way for children to learn what’s most important in life from the start.
Simple swaps to incorporate more minimalism with kids into your life
If you’re a veteran minimalist, then this might not be groundbreaking for you, but if you want a few simple ways to start being more minimalist as a mom, then these are great places to start.
The first place that I worked to minimize our waste in our home was in the kitchen.
When you have kids it is so easy to buy products that are super wasteful for the sake of convenience. I know that I did (and still do sometimes) fall into that trap.
Now, instead of buying yogurt pouches, we get big tubs of our favorite yogurt and then as needed I just pop them into reusable pouches that can be washed out and re-filled.
We also rarely use single-use plastic bags, like Ziplock bags. You can find a box in our pantry, but it takes a long time for us to go through it because I have replaced them with reusable snack bags. I have waterproof bags and regular snack bags that I use to fill up with snacks when we go out of the house.
For food storage, I also love mason jars! We use them for everything from drinking glasses to making cold porridge, and they even have nipples that fit for bottles! Super cool.
And of course, we always use our own refillable water bottles. The kids, my husband, and I all have our own and we *almost* never have to buy drinks when we are out, which means we are saving money and the environment.
I take my kids out to places like the museum and zoo almost every single week, but usually, spend nothing because I use these food and drink storage products and fill up a soft-sided cooler. We occasionally will run out of snacks and I’ll have to purchase something, but it’s rare.
Using these items religiously and really committing to taking the extra 20 minutes to pack lots of foods before leaving the house has cut back on our use of single-use plastics, plus saved us a ton of cash!
If you’re not sure why reducing plastic consumption is important, check this out.
Stop buying crappy toys
At one point we got into the habit of getting my daughter a small toy every.single.time we went to Target. Before long we were drowning in tiny Trolls and PJ Masks. She loved those tiny surprise bags of one small toy. They only cost like $3-4, and it negated a tantrum over bigger items.
It was such a huge mistake. We were doing our best to soothe our 3-year-old during a rough patch in our marriage, but it resulted in so much unnecessary junk (a lot of it even duplicates).
This also resulted in our daughter expecting a toy every time we were out somewhere. It was a hot mess.
So one day we just stopped.
It resulted in a lot of tears and tantrums at first, but now Target is smooth-sailing sans junk.
I also rarely buy toys for my twins, who are 2 years old. My daughter has so many hand-me-down toys that they do not need a single toy for the next 5 years.
While we have decided to purchase a few small things for birthdays and holidays, we rarely buy our kids toys unless they are for educational purposes outside of special occasions.
I also do not put out many toys at once for our kids. My daughter has a lot of her own toys out in her bedroom, but in shared play spaces, I curate which toys are displayed for use at any given time.
My kids don’t tend to get bored with their toys because every so often I rotate what is out for them to play with. Because we accumulated so many toys before entering the world of minimalism, we have plenty stored, but keep only a few out leaving our spaces less cluttered.
So even if you already have tons of stuff you dont’ necessarily need to get rid of it to start minimalism with kids.
Though boredom isn’t a bad thing! My daughter finds all kinds of unique uses for toys in her play that help her imagination. If I didn’t let those toys out long enough for her to get bored with them, she wouldn’t even think of those new uses for them. It’s pretty cool.
I also DIY a lot of activities and toys for them that don’t require me purchasing a whole bunch of new toys. Check out this little candy corn scooping activity I set up, or I do sensory boxes, which I talk about in this blog post.
The point is that you can create plenty of opportunities for enriching play for your children without getting lots of crappy plastic toys.
A lot of minimalist moms also love to lean towards sustainable eco-friendly and well-made wood toys, like Grimms, which are both beautiful and last a long time. (see below)
Another great way to decrease the wastefulness of tons of toys is to hit up your local second-hand shop and score some sweet deals!
Focus on experiences instead of possessions
My mother-in-law got my kids the best presents last year. Instead of toys, she purchased memberships to the zoo and a museum for the kids.
These are by far the most-used gifts we have received. Since we don’t have to pay admission when we go, we literally go to one of (if not both) these places nearly every single week.
It helps with the boredom of being home all the time for the kids, AND for me. Also, it’s educational experiences. The kids are constantly learning new things at both places we go and are definitely developing and learning more from those experiences than staying at home play on iPads or whatever new toy they might have.
And if friends and family still need other ideas for gifts for your children, how about a college fund? We have been steadily adding small amounts (like $25 at a time) to our children’s 529 accounts and it’s adding up! You can even choose ones that can be used for things besides just college.
There are a million ways that you and friends and family can show love and spoil your children without relying on things, and the best way is to spend quality time with them focusing on presences over presents.
Instead of a mountain of presents on Christmas morning, you go on a little vacation, or even plan a lot of little activities you can do together as a family? Think about building a gingerbread house, volunteering at a soup kitchen, stomping out into the woods to get cut down your own tree.
The possibilities are endless if you do a little brainstorming.
What will children remember the most as they grow up? Getting their 30th LOL toy, or spending the weekend with mom and dad sled riding?
It’s easy to fall into patterns of extreme consumerism because that’s the norm in our society, but if you are committed, minimalism with kids is doable and can create stronger bonds and more memories within your family.
What do you think? Any ideas? Share them in the comments!
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