I’ve said it before – the concept of minimalism and children seem to completely contradict one another. It’s understandable to think that! Kids bring love and joy and laughter but they all bring a bag load of chaos, toys and material crap. As they get older that transforms into extra-curricular activities, devices, and more material crap. What if I told you that there is such a thing as minimalism with kids – kids can be minimalists too!
We live in such a busy age – digital devices are the norm, kids are busy at school then sports then music then tutoring and more – they don’t get a chance for a breath. If anyone needs minimalism, it’s our kids. Read through for my 5 tips to Help Your Kids be Minimalists Too.
Tips for Helping Your Kids be Minimalists Too
- It Starts With You
We are lucky that our children are so young, so this is just the lifestyle that they will grow up with and be accustomed to. But say you have older kids – then what? Well like Marie Kondo says in her book, the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – don’t worry about the others. Lead by example. If you’re starting by decluttering – do your thing! Badgering your child to declutter or clean their room will likely result in resistance. But just going about your way, may invite questions instead.
- It’s a Conversation
However, when you are wanting to adopt a more simple and minimal lifestyle entirely – there are some areas where you will not be able to solely lead by example. A conversation is needed. Take on your children as partners in life – and talk it out. Determine the principles that you want your family to live by, what’s important and what’s not. How do you want birthday’s to go? What do you want your weekends to look like? Ask your children what they think, what they value – do they enjoy doing 5 different after school activities or are they actually feeling pretty burnt out?
- Value Experience Over Stuff
For many, gift giving is a love language. And there is nothing wrong with this. But we are conditioned to believe that buying material objects are the way to go – and the bigger, the better, the more expensive the more love is shown. Work on changing your mindset and place the value on experiences over stuff. You can easily reduce the number of gifts purchased for your family – we do four for each child: something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read (we also ask family members not to buy a bunch of stuff – if they insist, then a book or some art supplies are always welcomed). But you can also start to put an emphasis on experiences – again, lead by example!
- Set Boundaries
Maybe your teen is not at all interested in having a minimal bedroom! I truly believe that there is room to honour the individual while also keeping a simple lifestyle for yourself. Set boundaries – establish where material objects are kept. We have a designated play room and the kids toys rarely migrate out of there. For an older child, their room could be their haven – let it be as messy or cluttered as they want – if it makes them happy then that’s cool!
- Simplify Holistically
Living simply is more than just decluttering the material clutter out of your house and your life. Simplify all areas that you can – whether that’s clearing your calendar and freeing up space, or simplifying the food you eat each week. Maybe it’s adopting digital minimalism or even mental minimalism – yes, there is such a thing! Teach your child that a simple life will create space for them to be themselves, to discover their passions and live their truth – rather than being too busy to notice all this!
Why do it? The impacts are clear:
There are so many benefits to raising your children as minimalists, or with a simple lifestyle.
Some of these include:
- Attitude of Gratitude
Children who grow up with emphasis on experience over material objects, connection over accumulation – they grow up with a value and attitude of gratitude. As they get older, they learn that there is reason to be grateful everyday, not just on your birthday or at Christmas or when they have the latest pair of shoes.
- Imagination and Creativity
This is probably the biggest impact I have seen on my wee ones, and I can only assume that it will intensify as they grow older and more independent. Without all the digital influence, battery operated toys and clutter, they have the space to be creative. It won’t happen overnight – especially if this is a big change for your kids, or your children are older, as they will need to detox first – but it will happen!
- Self Awareness
Self awareness is a quality that many adults are missing – it seems as we grow up we are conditioned to tune out of ourselves and into the world around us. How amazing if we could raise our babes to keep this skill intact! With my two, they are well aware of when they need outside time or when they need quiet time and they select activities and play to match what their body, brain and emotions are craving.
- Less Stress
This is a biggie! Especially for those older kids! Even by simplifying their after school schedule, you’re freeing up time for them to be. To be. That’s right. To be how they want. As a primary / elementary aged teacher saying this: kids do not need to be so busy! A child who has time to be themselves and engage in the activities they are interested in, is a child who will learn a whole heap more than one who is put into 5 different extra-curricular activities!
Where are you in the minimalism and simple lifestyle journey? I’d love to know!