If you have already started to explore minimalism, I’m sure you have found countless information and motivation through the internet, books, maybe even community groups. My journey so far has found me encounter very little information on the how and why to do this when children are in the mix too. I recently joined a local minimalism group which has been established for some time. They too had yet to explore minimalism wuth children, which was the topic of the very first meet I attended this past weekend. This of course has prompted me to further explore the idea and I thought I would explore some of my findings, thoughts and inspiration here.
The Why: Figure out your values
I came across a great article here that summaries the book Minimalist Parenting by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest. I haven’t read this, but since reading this article the book is now definately on my list. Our reasons for exploring minimalism will always be different, perhaps we intitally like the idea of saving money, or gaining more time. But what is the core value behind that? What is it that we want to pass onto and install in our children. Perhaps it is the idea that money doesn’t define someone or that mindfulness and presence of time is important. Whatever it is, here are a few questions prompts that might help you;
- What am I grateful my parents taught me?
- What do I want to do differently from my parents?
- What kind of parent so I want to be?
- What do I want my family to represent?
- When is my child most happy?
- What values do I want my child to take with them into the world?
Figuring out your values is actually really hard work and takes a lot of self reflection. Be patient and kind with yourself during this process. I would argue that this part is perhaps the most difficult, yet most important part of the journey.
The How: Taking practical steps
Depending on how many kids you have and how deep the clutter creep this step will again look very differently for many. I have a two year old son who was about 18 months old when I started the decluttering process – he of course was not able to voice himself but I was able to be mindful of the activities and toys he really did enjoy, keep those and declutter the other ‘stuff’. Here are some tips on decluttering all child related items;
- Does this still get used/played with?
- Is this broken or damaged?
- Ask your child to select X amount of itmes they really value
- Put away unused toys – if children remember or ask for certain toys after X amount of time, it can return to the home
- Observe your child’s play – what do they seem to enjoy most
- It’s okay to have a certain amount of sentimental items – allocate one small box for each child.
- Consider developing a kids capsule wardrobe
Buying new stuff is now deeply considered first. I opt to purchase good quality toys that promote imagination and open ended play. I try to avoid purchasing items or making random trips to the toy store and instead use this time to go on walks to the park or beach or engage in some activity or experience I know my son will get a lot more value out of.
Bring it all together and maintain
I think it is important to keep those values at the forefront which allows us to lead a life with more attention and intention. I suggest finding a way to do this, whether that’s purely off memory or you write it down or create a vision board, simple reminders that help to me keep on track have been oh so helpful. I’m a strong believer in being mindful of what attitudes and values are guiding our behaviours.
I am no means an expert on this and fairly new to the journey myself. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!