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Minimalism with kids and why I can’t imagine it any other way

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Many people tend to think about minimalism with kids as something unrealistic or unreasonable. Something weird or impossible to create and maintain. Let’s fastly look why it’s easy to think so.

Firstly, we think that having much stuff is connected to having kids at home, or even that it’s necessary. Maybe it’s because the market of kids-everything is saturated? We are bombarded with advertisement telling us that kids need this and that because it’s back-to-school, or Christmas, or summer. Ads telling us that our kids need toys, educational toys, wooden toys, zero waste toys and of course medicaments, because, of course, they tell us our kids are sick.

So, firstly, the fact that there are so many kids’ products on the market, advertised in real ads, in movies and by your neighbour, just coming from the store, it makes us feel that maybe they need it, that maybe we should buy this and that. And 99% of these needs are artificially created by some market players.

Secondly, what is our thought of minimalism? How we imagine it? What is the first picture in our minds? White walls? Empty spaces without colors? Single men working only from their laptops? Cleanness, oder, stiff, maybe boring adults?

And it’s the time for me to show you that our energetic little loves and the (almost) empty spaces can make a meaningful and beneficial match for the whole family.

how to be minimalists with kids?

Of course, having kids means that at home will be more things than earlier. But in the same way as we decide consciously to have or give away our belongings, we can think of kids’ things, declutter them and try to keep only what’s necessary.

What kind of items do babies and kisd bring with them when they join our family? I would divide them into three categories:

  1. Clothes.
  2. Toys.
  3. Obvious items necessary for every person like a toothbrush, bed with linens, their own chair in the kitchen, some more plates, mugs and cutlery than for two adult people.

There could be also the fourth category called b*it. All the things that no baby needs but they’re listed on baby checklists on the Internet. All things manufactured only to be advertised and sold, and bring money, and not to address any real needs.

I’m not going to develop the description of this fourth, waste category. Because I hope, I have smart Readers here, who can really think.

But if you don’t understand why I won’t write about baby monitors, breast pumps, nightlights, baby wipes, special laundry detergent, changing tables, diaper bags and kids toiletries… – you have a lot of article about the minimalist and simple, and natural approach to life on this blog. (Fast answer: you don’t need these items, just get rid of them).

And now, how to maintain minimalism among the things which existence is reasonable.

1. how to choose and keep only the minimum of kids’ clothes

method one

I’ve written about it in details in this article: How to minimize kids clothes – step by step.

method two

In short: you have to know how fast your kids’ clothes need washing, how often you do the laundry and putting these information together: how many of each kind of clothing your kids need.

When you have an idea of the number, you leave in their wardrobe only this necessary number of each type of clothing, adding maybe one of each type just in case (real minimalists are 100% againt this expression: just in case but real minimalists have zero kids; just a joke).

Of course, leave in the wardrobe items that are kids’ favorites, which are pretty, comfortable, in good state, easy for you to wash. Keep the best.

Hide the rest of clothes and give yourself some time to check whether your kids need more or less. Then decide what to do with the unnecessary items. You can leave them somewhere on the top shelf and buy from this shelf when any item which is worn regularly gets worn out.

method three

And if it’s hard for you to guess the number of clothes that your kids need, you can play a kind of packing party. (This idea comes from Ryan Nicodemus, I use my own variation of this method to different kinds of items to check whether I really need them. Ryan’s story is here).

Firstly, you have to put all of the kid’s clothes in one place – it can be a part of wardrobe or somewhere else.

Then you take what the kid needs from all the clothes and after using it, or after it comes back after washing and drying – put it on the usual place in your kid’s wardrobe.

Depending on how often you wash your clothes, you need one-two weeks to have in the wardrobe the necessarry set of clothes that is really used by your kids.

Items which are still in the place where you’ve put all the clothing at the beginning, are probably useless or for other season.

what about the useless items (which are not used regularly)

Give them away, throw them away, store somewhere out of sight for the future (currently worn clothes can get damaged), for siblings or for other weather.

examples of kids’ minimalist wardrobes

In the past I’ve published the content of our boys’ wardrobes:

Our toddler boys’ capsule wardrobe

22-item toddler capsule wardrobe for summer/autumn

if you want more in-depth guidelines

You can take Courtney Carver’s micro-course Dress With Less and Create Your Capsule Wardrobe.

Courtney is a minimalist, living a slow life since years, author of the Project 333 (about paring down your wardrobe) and the book Soulful Simplicity.

The course will teach you how to treat your wardrobe so that it serves you the best. Knowing the whys and the hows, and going through your own things will give you a picture of why and how to keep kids’ wardrobes.

2. how to choose and keep only the minimum of kids’ toys

Firstly, give yourself some time to think why and for what kids need toys.

Think of what kind of toys may be beneficial and sensible for kids and what kind of toys is the opposite: annoying, boring, not used, causing negative effects.

Think of why do we give toys to kids.

Really, take time to think about it. Remind yourself your childhood, your toys, your favorite ways of spending time as a kid.

think

I’m a woman who highly values values, relationships and People, Every Single Person. I see them, I see you, I look at you, I feel too much of what you feel.

I’m a wife for 8 years, mom of two Boys, aged nearly 3 and 5. We chose not to send our Boys to preschool. I plan to unschool, to keep showing my kids the real life and teaching what’s important and useful.

From my point of view, buying kids many toys, allowing family and friends to bring new toys into our home and caring for the room full of plastic cr*p is just stupid.

Let them play! Some cars, some figurines, maybe teddy bears or other plush friends, something to throw (soft balls or blocks) and a big set of connstruction blocks – it’s completely enough.

Look for information on how some toys (which sing and make lights, and move on their own) and cartoons affect our kids. Look for information what the excess of toys causes in kids. Look for information about kids’ anxiety, aggression, low self-esteem, even obesity… And think, what to do with toys, how many and which of them should stay, so that the kid can spend time nicely, develop their skills, but not fall into aggression, depression, social problems…

Let’s raise good, smart, healthy adults who can build healthy relationships.

Having more toys just to keep with the little Joneses from the neighborhood – it’s stupid. It doesn’t teach kids about the value of things, the value of money and parents’ work.

Strain yourself and explain to the kid that having more items doesn’t bring happiness. You can do this. Through the rest of life on your kid will probably be told the opposite (by ads, media, influencers, friends).

Check whether it’s true that kids having a room full of toys don’t know what to do but kids having a few toys invent their own games.

Be aware that kids mimic what they see in cartoons – also the aggression. Avoid branded toys – figurines from popular cartoons. First, you buy an innocent figurine which is a nice, interesting toys, then you show the cartoon to the kid, and then… you have aggression at home or at least are asked to buy more.

Let them get bored, let them move, bring and make things on their own, and invent their own scenarios for play. It is the only way they can learn how to live, how to negotiate, cooperate and make changes. Let them feel the satisfaction coming from the fact that they have made something or invented something on their own. A colorful toy which makes beeps and lights, and meow-meows, and you cannot do much more with it – there are only a few buttons with the same effect every time – this toy won’t give the real satisfaction and won’t teach kids anything!

F*ck the toys and go outside: let them run, hide, explore, play with sticks, throw stones into the water and investigate worms.

And if you still don’t understand the issue of boredom and fewer toys from shop, or you want to hear more stories from a simple-living, easy-going parent, read Tom Hodgkinson’s The Idle Parent. This is one of a few book which I don’t give away after reading.

See exactly how we limit gifts for my Boys from family and friends: Gift-giving rules for our family and friends to limit kids’ stuff.

See exactly how I decide to keep or give away toys: 5 rules for decluttering toys by a minimalist mom.

3. how to choose and keep only the minimum of other kids’ necessities

When it comes to other items coming to our home because of the fact that a kid lives with us, try to follow the steps:

  1. Declutter what you have. The easiest way is to hide the items and even furniture and bring them back only if it will be needed (again, kind of packing party).
  2. Buy or bring new things only when you’ll need them meaning: the situation when you don’t own it will really make your life worse. Never buy just in case, for the future (maybe clothes sometimes) or because everyone has it.
  3. Before buying a new item think whether an item you already have could take over the needed function. A sofa for changing diapers instead of buying changing table, using a chair that you have instead of buying a high stool so that the kid can look at what you’re doing on kitchen countertops, giving kids water in cups instead of buying special little mugs. Things like that.

Let’s just kill the myth that kids need something more than loving parents, good relationships, food, water, bathroom, a roof over their heads, safety and a bit of freedom to explore. And even a bit of boredom!

why is it worth to keep things simple and minimized when having kids?

Ok, I encourage you to minimize the number of kids’ stuff and show you how to do it. But how will you benefit from that?

I hope, you don’t expect from me to list here all benefits of minimalism. The article got much longer than I thought and I’m a bit tired already 😉

You’re a smart person, you can imagine yourself benefits of having less or google them.

Just a few points, especially for families:

  • less time spent on tidying up toys after kids (or negotiating with them that they’ll do it)
  • less time spent choosing outfits for your kids
  • less storage space needed, so you can buy less furniture and live in a smaller home or enjoy having big, not-cluttered, calm space
  • less time and nerves spent on searching for missed items
  • more money left for family travels or other goals
  • more time spent outside because the house chores don’t hold us at home – little to tidy up, little to care for
  • generally, less stress, meaning fewer arguments with loved ones, meaning better relationships, better atmosphere at home, a slower and happier life.

Life with kids brings challenges anyway. There come difficult days.

We, parents, have added those challenges to our lives, having to deal with them, with all the emotional and psychical stuff and with the everyday baby care and house chores.

I cannot imagine going through this period when kids are little with being a perfect housewife of a home overflowing with stuff which needs my time and energy to care for. No, thanks. With all that – I’d go crazy or depressed.

I prefer keeping things simple. It minimizes the stress and the number of potential problems.

If you’d like to read more on the subject, check the category for minimalist families on the Slow and happy blog.

And if you’d like even more, I can recommend following books which can make you more familiar with the idea of simply living with kids:

Minimalism for Families by Zoë Kim

Minimalist Parenting by Christine K. Koh and Asha Dornfest

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

Cluterfree with kids by Joshua Becker

minimalism with kids - decluttering toys and clothes - slow and happy blog



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