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Minimalism & Family: Minimizing with Kids

When the topic of minimalism comes up in my conversations, often times it’s followed by a comment that it would be so much harder to be a minimalist with kids. While minimizing with kids isn’t easy, it’s entirely possible, and maybe even more important that minimizing on your own. Here are some tips on minimizing when you have a family.

minimalism family

1. Have a Packing Party

A packing party is a fun way of saying to throw all of your stuff in boxes, and pull things out as you need them. This could work very well for kids, because they will have to ask for specific toys before you get them out of the box. After a couple of weeks, donate the toys still in boxes.

2. Explain the Importance of Donating

By telling a child what it means to donate, you are giving them the option to do something good. If you teach your children to share, why wouldn’t you teach them the importance of donating and charities? Teach the importance of giving and sharing to your children to help them learn that things and stuff aren’t the most important things.

3. Gain Inspiration

Read blogs by minimalists with families. They are out there. My favorite is Leo Babauta, a minimalist with six kids who lives in San Francisco. Other popular ones are Joshua Becker, Courtney Carver, and The Minimalist Mom. Minimalism is a personalized lifestyle, but seeing how other people do it has always been helpful to me in determining how I want to go about it.

minimalism with kids

4. No Gifts, Please

Most kids toys come into the house as gifts. By asking for something other than gifts (donations to a college fund would be a good start), you will be cutting down on clutter and giving a better gift in the long run. If you definitely want to get a toy as a gift, consider buying your child one or two toys from yourself – it’s much easier to get rid of things that you buy a year or two down the road versus things your family or friends buy.

5. Minimize the Available Space for Toys

By creating a smaller storage space for toys (for example, a chest versus an entire playroom), you will be able to cut down the amount of toys your child has. Less space for toys should equal less toys. Less toys means that cleanup and maintenance is so much more simple.

These are five simple tips to start minimizing in a family household. I’d love to hear in the comments below which ones you plan to try out!

Your turn!

  • What is your best tip for minimizing with kids?
2 Comments
  1. I agree with the concept that best way to be minimalist with kids is to not get gifts of toys. they just add to clutter. You can instead request friends and family to gift experiences and services. Close friends can gift summer camps, art classes, piano lessons, golf lessons. Not only it builds a memory but also helps open up children to new things. There are various sites such as www.giftvolo.com where you can post Wishlist of services or experiences you desire for yourself or kids and share with friends and family. This ensures that they give something that you actually need and desire.

  2. I understand the premise behind #4 No Gifts, Please. However, there is something inside me that rebels against mandating the type of gift that’s “proper.” Is this what our society is coming to?

    For me, gift-giving opportunities—especially for kids—mean:
    – The giver hopes to bring delight to the recipient
    – The recipient doesn’t dictate nor have awareness of the dollar value
    – Joy that comes in a wrapped box with a secret wonder inside

    Yes, these are contrived values, but so is dictating the type of gift. Not to mention that an “experience” is usually going to be more costly (a summer camp!!!) than a typical birthday gift, and a donation to a college fund is not only impersonal, but the end result is the recipient knows the exact dollar amount of the gift. Why not just set up a GoFundMe page?

    Remember, minimalism is a wise choice made by the parents, often without even including the kids in the decision. There are some trade-offs the parents accept for making that choice. Their choice. Is it a fair trade-off to dampen the joy for the child AND for the gift-giver?

    As adults, my friends and I have enjoyed no-gift celebrations for decades; however, there’s a real coldness in asking your friends to write a check for your four-year-old’s birthday. Most adults will recognize that a 6-foot-tall doll house–or a live elephant–or a snake–or an ocean liner–is not appropriate for your tiny house. What you do with the adults without that common sense….well, they will always be an issue. Grin and bear it.

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