Six years ago, I started a new journey by embracing motherhood with less stuff. I have a small tribe of four young children, and this has been a big determining factor in my decision to design a simpler life.
I found myself spending more time tending to my stuff than tending to my kids. And truthfully, the time and energy needed to care for our stuff while caring for my family was draining the joy right out of my motherhood.
Having kids brings a whole lot of joy, noise, and it seems, an utter chaos of clutter. It’s a perpetual struggle to keep clutter at bay with kids.
Many people think they could never be minimalist with kids—because they have kids. Minimalism and kids under the same roof, working together in harmony. But, as it turns out, anyone can be a minimalist with kids!
Minimalism with Kids
If you love the idea of parenting with less stuff, noise, and busyness, here are some practical ways you can experience minimalism with your kids:
1. Invite your kids to join you.
Invite your children alongside your decluttering projects. The sooner you ask them to join you, the more opportunities you’ll have to help them experience the rewards of minimalism. Show them the value of ‘more is less’ in your life. Explore with them what they might find rewarding in minimalism.
2. Embrace a minimalist lifestyle.
The best example is you! If you’ve heard this before, it still bears repeating. Lead by example and show them a rich life with less stuff. The sight of seeing all their stuff opened up my eyes to all my stuff. I can not expect my kids to get rid of their things when I still had so many things myself that needed to go.
3. Carve out time to declutter.
Do you struggle to find the time to declutter? Carving out time to simplify your life with kids is doable. Clear an afternoon once a week, once a month—whatever it takes to carve out time to declutter your home. Remind yourself that your efforts will be beneficial in the long run. Removing items from your home means you will never have to spend time caring for it again!
4. Do a Saturday clean up.
Schedule a family clean up time. With kids, it’s an uphill battle to keep a clean home, even as a minimalist. We do a “30-minute cleanup”, usually on Saturday mornings. Every child pitches in to clean up the house. This quick cleanup gives us a tidy home and the rest of the day to have fun.
5. Establish boundaries.
Our two big kids keep their stuff only in their rooms while our two littles have their toys strictly in the playroom. The dining room, kitchen, and living room are for household stuff only. While our two toddlers stuff does get spread throughout the house, we try to contain the kid stuff to the designated areas only. This leaves our living area uncluttered and simple.
6. Simplify your family meals.
Do you cook different meals for dinner to keep everyone happy? Or choose time-consuming recipes with many steps and ingredients? We recently started batch cooking meal components—it’s been very helpful while allowing flexibility to prepare the meal we want and do it quickly. Minimalist Baker, a favorite of mine, offers recipes with fewer ingredients (10 or less), one, bowl, one pot, and 30 minutes or less to prepare.
7. Use bins to store toys.
Keep cleanup simpler (and attainable!) for kids by using bins, drawers or baskets to place their stuff. This makes it easy for your kids to toss their stuff into the bins. You can also label each bin by category, using picture labels if your child can’t yet read. Our son’s room has a trundle drawer under his bed where all his toys are kept. He can simply pull the drawer out to play with his toys and then slide it back under his bed when he’s finished.
8. Own fewer clothes.
Clothing is one thing that is certain to multiply with kids! A minimal wardrobe has reduced our weekly laundry and simplified everyone’s morning dress routine. You may even find, like us, that a dresser is no longer required. Our kid’s clothing is easily stored in their closets.
9. Build capsule wardrobes.
A capsule wardrobe streamlines your family clothing and helps avoid excess. It gives you a simplified wardrobe with items that all work well together. Creating your capsule with the same color pallet helps it all flow together. Purchasing your child’s wardrobe from the same store can also make matching items simpler. I love Project 333—where I go for all my capsule wardrobe resources.
10. Schedule some time to rest.
As the momma of four kids, I’ve found it extremely helpful to keep a day with nothing planned. We may still decide to do something—but we don’t have too. Scheduling a day of rest allows time for rest, creativity, and whim in your family’s life. Isn’t that something worth investing in?
11. Prioritize experiences over things.
Over the past decade, psychology research has shown that experiences bring people more happiness than do possessions. Share the benefits of experiences over things with your kids. Have a declutter challenge and treat them to a fun experience together. Teach them that the best things in life aren’t things.
12. Contain the sentimental.
Do you find yourself placing sentimental attachment to many of your kid’s things? Their first shoes, their first outfit, their artwork? How can we choose what to keep when it all feels so important? Decide beforehand how much space you want it to take up. Choose a drawer, shelf or container(s) for the best stuff to keep. It is much more difficult to let go of things you’ve already made a place for rather than deciding not to keep it in the first place.