People don’t believe that you can be a minimalist with children…
But for me, having a family has been one of my main reasons for minimalism. Our lives use to revolve around stuff, our money went on all the things and our home, was full to the rafters with anything and everything we found. It had taken over our lives and the need to simplify got stronger and stronger, every time I couldn’t close a cupboard door.
If I had my time again, we would never have bought into consumerism. My children would only have received toys for birthday’s and Christmas time and our days would have mostly been spent outside, instead of in a store. But there’s no point in hindsight unless it drives you on and once it got to the point where I needed to make a change - I did.
Simplifying our home and our lives has had massive benefits on the children, which I knew that it would because studies show, that children do better with less. But I wasn’t sure how my own children would react, as they had always been use to more. Yet I can say with certainty, that minimalism and family life works and if your not convinced, here are some reasons to show you how:
Minimalism gives children the space they need to play. Empty space becomes a wonderful stage for play. A backdrop for a rocket ship, a blanket fort that takes over the lounge, or whatever their imaginations say.
Children learn to value experiences over things. When you actively prioritise days out over more things, your kids learn that doing stuff is just as fun, if not more so - than having stuff. And although I’m sure if asked, some days my children would choose a toy over another trip to the beach, mostly if they see you valuing days out over stuff, they will too.
There is less to tidy. The endless tidy up routine is not an issue for our kids anymore and they are so happy about it! The drama that use to happen when asked to tidy was no fun and we are so thankful, not to have to deal with that anymore. A quick clear up when they’ve finished playing and that’s our tidy up done, win win all round.
Children gain more empathy. All children are emphatic but when you talk openly about how privileged your family is to have so many things, it really puts into perspective how little others have. When our kids decide to declutter so that others have more, it sets them up with the mindset that they already have enough.
It helps with overwhelm. My children use to be overwhelmed in their space because it was too busy. When you have to sift through 50 teddies just to get to the one you want, it causes stress levels to rise. Added to the decision fatigue children get, when faced with more than a few options at a time, is it any wonder more stuff makes our children upset! When you remove the excess, you take the overwhelm with it.
Children learn the value of money. We use to spend most weekends in shopping centres and more often than not, little hands would come away with something new. This routine wasn’t teaching them anything about being intentional with money, or showing them how to use money wisely. Since simplifying, we talk so much more about money with our children, about what we can and can’t afford and where we want to put our time! We have also introduced pocket money and a one in one out policy, this way the children can save for anything they want and not feel like they are going without.
However, if you are privileged to have enough, I don’t think that going without is necessarily a bad thing to feel. In a world of more, more, more. and a ‘have it now’ mindset, I think showing our children that it’s okay to wait for something is really worthwhile. It builds the habit of asking themselves if they really want something, gives them time to think about what they really want and the opportunity to save for it. These are all really great life skills to teach.
Having less leads to more. More outdoor time, playing in the mud and climbing trees. More time in the kitchen, gathering food and helping to feed. More time to read, to make and create. And more room to rest and play. The more space and time our children have to explore their surroundings and the world around them, the happier they will be. And I know I’ve said it before but play really is the work of childhood.
Decluttering my children’s childhood hasn’t just been about the physical toys. Having empty space, in our calendars and in our days has been imperative for their well being. These pockets of time in the in-between, tend to be the times my children enjoy the most. I really do believe that being bored is an important gift to give our children and even better, it’s free!
We spend more time in nature, which the benefits are abound. Since avoiding shops as much as possible, we are spending more time than ever outside. And that’s what I wanted for my children all along. Windswept hair and grubby knees, rosy cheeks and trips to the sea. Time spent in nature is never wasted and is a brilliant antidote to our modern world, I mean it’s called nature therapy for a reason right?!
If you have any questions, or want any advice on kids and minimalism, I’m always happy to chat!