Being a minimalist parent is how I manage to stay sane while raising and homeschooling 7 kiddos, while carving out time for my own goals and passions. Have you ever wondered how to be a minimalist parent?
More about this in a minute. First, a story.
Recently I joined a dozen or so fellow Atlantans for a meetup. We got together to meet Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists.
At the meetup Joshua repeated, “It’s not really about the stuff.” Meaning that everyone knows how to get rid of clutter. The bigger question is why they don’t. What are the emotions attached to the stuff? And what is it you really want?
At the heart of minimalism is knowing what you really want.
As for me? I want to focus on my family, my spirituality, homeschooling and my blog. I want a peaceful life with plenty of margin. I don’t want a visually cluttered home, or a cluttered schedule. I don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning stuff, moving stuff around, packing stuff up. I would rather grab a kid or two and read a great book aloud. Or cook something for my family.
How To Be a Minimalist Parent
“A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three.” —
Grantly Dick-Read, author of Childbirth Without Fear
A lot of what we think kids need in order to be happy and well adjusted is simply this: what we can afford to give them. But is that really true?
Children don’t need Nintendo. They don’t need TV (we didn’t even have a TV for many years). They don’t need iPods and other gadgets that let them be alone even while with their family.
They need parents who are available and engaged (enough). They don’t need a lot of extracurricular activities. They do need plenty of time – preferably, several hours a day – to just be kids and play. (And I’m talking about doing their own thing play, not adult directed play. That doesn’t count!)
Think back to your own childhood. What did you have? What did you need?
Children need freedom within proper boundaries. They need a consistent full time caregiver. Hopefully this is their own imperfect mom. They don’t need their own bedroom or expensive wardrobes.They need healthy, home cooked food (at least most of the time).
2) When you need stuff, try to borrow it. Then, get rid of it as soon as you don’t need it.
When you have kids, clutter seems to be attracted to your home. I find that I have to beat it back constantly. Of course, when you have children you do need more stuff than when you don’t have kids. But you can always get the stuff you need, then get rid of it as soon as its purpose is extinguished. Saving stuff for subsequent children isn’t always a good idea. I list some of the reasons why here.
I have a penchant for books. But this year I’ve gotten rid of a ton (notice empty bookshelves in the picture above), only keeping books that I refer to regularly and books that the kids read over and over. We get “new” books from the library.
Kids will love and play with their toys more when they have less.
Choose a few classic, well made toys that don’t do anything on their own.
Wooden blocks, LEGO, dolls, board games are the big hits here. My girls play with their dolls, and they draw and read a lot. The boys enjoy learning and playing music, LEGO, and building things (from a homemade guitar to coin-operated candy machines). Mostly we talk, play outside, spend time playing with the baby.
Don’t hold on to stuff that drags on your energy even if it’s valuable. I recently got rid of most of my kid’s off season/hand me down clothing, and I love the feeling I still get from that.
People will give you lots of stuff when you have kids, which is a blessing. It’s also a curse, especially if they don’t understand your need for minimalism, and the life values you’re trying to teach your children. Don’t feel guilty about getting rid of stuff that you don’t need. Bless someone else with it. Giving is relinquishing ownership (at least, it should be). Therefore, if someone gives you something, what you do with it after that is your business.
3) Slow down. Do less. BE more.
If you have to keep some kind of complicated system to keep up with your and your kid’s appointments, maybe you have too much going on.
Just like organizing is simple when you have only the necessities, living a life in harmony with your highest values is easy when you don’t have a jam packed schedule. Any parent to babies and toddlers can tell you that they don’t like to rush around running errands and such. What’s less commonly known is that older kids don’t like it either.
The system we live in is designed to keep people so distracted, stressed and “busy” that they don’t connect with one another (much less their Creator). It’s possible to unsubscribe from all that.
A simple kind of mom – 7 areas to simplify for your sanity
Minimalist parenting (a discussion with another minimalist mom, great tips about handling gift giving)
Simple beauty – a frugal, natural skin care and makeup routine
Books I’ve enjoyed about how to be a minimalist parent:
What do you think? Do you lean towards minimalism in your parenting? Why do you think the “simple life” is growing in popularity?