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Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle:
There are many benefits to possessing less. Living in a de-cluttered home is peaceful and promotes calmness. And letting go of things will help you focus on more important things like your relationships and self-care.
More space, anyone? A surprising benefit has been the extra room I “found” when I got rid of things. When I got serious about giving away un-used clothes, I discovered I didn’t need my dresser. All my clothes fit comfortably in my closet, and now my bedroom feels significantly bigger for not having a dresser in it! We also took a hard look at our furniture and gave away a coffee table as well as a small cadenza. Honestly, I don’t miss a single piece of furniture that I’ve given away, and now my home feels more roomy!
How does spending less time cleaning sound? Pretty good, right? Cleaning (dusting especially) is a breeze. I have fewer pieces of furniture to dust, and the furniture I did keep is easier to dust because I removed everything except my favorite pieces of décor. This has been a huge time-saver.
And you’ll enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes when you strive to let go of the desire to accumulate more. And yes, this is a work in progress. It’s easy to let things re-accumulate; living minimally is an ongoing choice. I’ve found that I need to go through my belongings on a regular basis to ensure that we aren’t holding onto things we don’t use anymore.
Minimalism with Kids
As you can tell by now, I thoroughly enjoyed giving it all away, but I was downright worried about what my three-year-old would say. Have you ever had a not-so-pleasant experience cleaning out a child’s room?
Well, I have…not even a full day after I cleaned her toy area, my daughter came running up to me, “Mamma, where did my doggie go?” I had donated it. Rookie mistake! She may only be three, but her logic is improving by leaps and bounds. Gone are the days of simply re-directing her attention. She knew her doggie had disappeared, and also assumed I was the culprit. Guilty as charged.
If you’ve made that error and want to avoid those tears in the future — here are my suggestions:
Tips for Making Minimalism Work with Kids
1. Lead by example
Go through your own things first. As my husband and I purged our belongings, our daughter watched. She had questions (of course!) and I explained that we had more than we needed and that it’s important to share. By giving her an example to follow and then allowing her to take the lead, I didn’t have to sneak around after bed time and hope she won’t notice that toys have disappeared.
2. Resist going through your child’s belongs
I know it’s hard. But this is important. If you try to go through things for your child, they will probably (maybe even definitely) resist your efforts. So, I didn’t make a single move to go through my daughter’s possessions until she suggested it.
3. Take one step at a time
Even when your child suggests giving away some of their possessions, don’t jump all in. There are still plenty of things in my daughter’s room that could be given away. I’m planning on doing it little by little and so far, this seems to be working!
4. Have a backup plan
Wait at least a week before donating anything your child has “decided” to give away. When my daughter said she wanted to give a puzzle away I was initially wary of her newfound generosity. I thought she might change her mind and want that puzzle back in a few hours, days at most. So instead of driving the toys over to Goodwill right away, I helped her bag up a few of her puzzles and toys and moved them to the closet for a week or two before officially donating them. As it turned out, she didn’t ask for anything back out of the donation bag, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
5. Use verbal affirmation
When your child does go through with giving away old toys or belongings, show your appreciation. “What you did was awesome!” “I’m so proud of you.” “You’re so generous.” In my experience, positive re-enforcement goes a long way towards promoting good behavior.
So there you have it. I hope these tips will help you avoid my mistakes and teach your child to be a minimalist, they have certainly helped me!
6. Be realistic about what will work for your family
Reading about super minimalists, I mean the people who own next to nothing, is inspiring. But the reality is that there are dozens of things your family will need on a daily basis. I strive to live a minimal lifestyle, without stepping over the “go without” line. For example, a super minimalist probably only owns one fork and one towel. That’s great for them, but probably won’t work for you. But just because you can’t be a super minimalist, doesn’t mean you can’t minimize. Simply have realistic expectations going into the process, and you’re more likely to be satisfied with your results.
Ready to Give it a Try?
Getting Started as a Minimalist is easier than you might think. Really! I would suggest getting started by going around your home and looking for duplicate items. Do you have multiple scissors in the junk drawer? How about your glasses cabinet? I gave away so many random and mis-matched cups and water bottles without matching lids. Do you have duplicate kitchen gadgets that you don’t use? Give those away too! Also look for things that are broken – those should be an easy trip to the curb.
After a quick and (hopefully) painless trip around the house, you have some momentum going and the real work can begin.
The basic process is to pull everything out of the space you’re cleaning (yep, everything) and put it in a big pile. As you sort through the pile, look at each item and ask yourself “When did I last use this?” If it has been over a year, there’s a good chance it should be given away. Remember being a minimalist isn’t something to accomplish, it’s a way of life and it does take time. Focus on finding happiness from your relationships and experiences and you will be a long way towards letting go of unnecessary things. And if you are interested in learning more about a minimalist lifestyle, I highly recommend The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.