Can children be minimalists…
In my mind they certainly can. Just like adults, some take to it more naturally than others but every child, I'm sure, can learn to live a little more simply - when given the time and space to do so. This is a new series on my blog, dedicated to children and minimalism. A place to document all of the highs and lows that go hand in hand, with raising my mini minimalists.
I was certain that at the start of simplifying our lives, I really wanted to get the children on board. To us that meant not rushing in and decluttering their things. We went slowly and we gently spoke to our children about what we were minimising and why. We shared what we hoped to benefit as a family and how by living with fewer things, we could gain more time together, to do more of what we loved.
It is, of course, a constant work in progress, which doesn’t always look how you think it will look. If you’ve read about minimalist rules and a numbers of items, try to let that go. As people, we are all different and we shouldn't feel like we’ve failed, if we can’t live up to a certain number set by someone else’s standards.. Someone who knows nothing about us, or our family. It’s totally missing the point. We don’t want unobtainable and to strive for something thats not realistic. We want something tangible, something that will work for us all, both individually and as a family.
Above all else, we’ve got to be patient. If it’s taken us this long to realise the more of less, we can’t expect our children to understand straight away. Some may grasp it quickly but others could really struggle and that’s okay, give them time. They too, are being bombarded daily by the need for more. Adverts, that no matter how much we try to avoid, still make themselves seen, magazines with shiny toys, that attract tiny hands wanting to explore and those friends that we visit, that have way cooler stuff than they do.
Explain what minimalism is, in a child friendly way that can be understood. Talk about how it will not only help your family, but those children less fortunate than they are. Not to mention the planet and all of the good, that buying less could do. Mine were both really interested in these conversations and I think that children have so much empathy, just waiting to be used.
However. Your children may still not want to part with their belongings. For some children, their things are their world. Give them grace. We decided early on, that we didn’t want to declutter the children’s belongings without their consent and so we didn’t. We decluttered the home and all of our excess. They watched and asked questions, just as children do. Conversations started, tiny seeds were planted and slowly, just like a flower they grew, until they were simplifying their own spaces, of their own accord. One more eager than the other but both doing so, in their own way.
For us and our children, minimalism is the long haul flight, rather than the short haul. We want it to be something that will enrich their lives, well into adulthood and encourage ongoing discussions about themselves and their stuff. We want them to think about who they are as people and where they find their worth. To think about what activities can they do, when they are happy or sad - that don’t involve a shop. And most importantly, how can they feel enough, just as they are.
To us, although late to minimalism (our children are eight and ten) it was never too early to start these thoughts and hopefully equip them with other ways. Because only when we know better, can we do better. And remember, children watch far more what we do, than what we say. So we need to be practicing what we preach, lead by example and have hope that they will follow.