It can seem impossible to even consider minimalism with kids in the house, but you can simplify, declutter, and live simply.
If you’ve moved multiple times, gone through boxes of clothes or toys, or done any type of decluttering challenge then you know this…
Families with kids gather tons of stuff.
Whether we like it or not, stuff just keeps trickling in. It’s a constant effort to pare down the stuff, but it is so worth it.
Before I get into how we can live a more minimalistic life with kids at home, here are some benefits of minimalism.
- Less mess = less time tidying| This goes for kids and moms. Tidying routines help, but the less stuff everywhere the cleaner the home naturally is.
- Less stuff = less choice = less power struggles | Your kids don’t argue over which clothes to wear when they only have a handful or two.
- Having less stuff costs less money | There’s more money to put towards college, retirement, vacations, and things that will improve your quality of life.
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How to embrace minimalism with kids in the house
I think if we develop a mindset of minimalism with kids in the family then we’ll raise more responsible and level-headed kids. Here are some thoughts on this motto and how it can relate to life with our kiddos.
Let’s adopt a motto from The Great Depression…
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
1. Use it Up.
A first good rule to minimalism with kids at home is this… use up what you’ve got.
This is referring to consumable goods and material things you already own. No need to buy more of something you already have. It’s good to stock up on some essential items, but be wise in how much you purchase.
The first step to getting rid of chaos is to simplify, simplify, simplify. This guide can help.Learn More
Ways to use up what you’ve got instead of always gathering more
- “Shop the pantry” before making your grocery list and try to make multiple meals with similar ingredients to prevent waste. Your grocery bill will be lower and you won’t have a pantry and fridge full of food that goes bad.
- Buy only one or two personal hygiene products at a time. Instead of having counters full of shampoos, conditioners, and other products, buy just enough for now plus one more.
- Before you buy new clothes for the kids, hand down what you can. You don’t need so many clothes the kids never repeat them in a month. Use what you have until they’re grown out of, then buy more.
- Got furniture the right size, but wrong color? Refinish it or paint it. Sometimes reusing or “shopping the house” helps you find something that works without making a big purchase.
2. Wear it Out.
Here we refer to clothes, or things that have a life of wear and tear and then must be retired. As I grow older I have started to prefer having a few good quality things over many things of subpar or average quality.
They last longer, go out of ‘fashion’ slower and help me to feel a bit more luxurious in my quest to simplify. When I’m shopping I’ll generally buy shorts, tops or dresses that are versatile and don’t scream “you wore that last week” so that I can rotate scarves, jewellery or shoes to freshen the look up.
Buy simple things that can be used over and over again
In your quest for minimalism with kids around, one of the best things you can do is to buy things that won’t “expire” quickly.
Kids accumulate things. Since I’ve had mine fairly close together and I’ve done my best to take good care of everything, we have reused every single baby thing we haven’t worn out.
In fact, even with 5 kids, I only have very few baby must haves. Here’s how you can go about being minimalist no matter how large your family is. In fact, I’d argue, the larger your family is the more minimalist you become naturally.
- Buy swaddles, bibs, infant seats, car seats, cribs, and pack and plays, etc in neutral colors so you can use them with all your children.
- Buy good quality toys and use them until they’re broken or grown out of. You can also rotate toys to help keep them alive longer.
- When purchasing clothes, think fewer and better. If a child can wear something longer because it’s nicer (and they look cute so you are less tempted to buy more!) then you’ll spend less money and have less laundry. Win win.
3. Make it Do.
Now, this can be hard for certain Type A mamas, like myself.
If I feel that something isn’t quite working in the house then I am quick to think of a new and improved system. Normally my thoughts go to purchasing something to make it run more smoothly. And sometimes – when we do a house walk for niggly things – this works well.
But sometimes, we don’t want more “stuff” as a solution and we just want to find an answer to a problem that we like, with stuff we already have.
How to make do with what we have in a materialistic world
When you live alone, minimalism is much easier, minimalism with kids gets tricky because we honestly need more things to make the day go round. But we CAN make do, here’s how.
- Get off social media. If we are always looking at everyone else’s cute houses and kids and lives then we will spend $$$$$$. No two ways about it. You may even need a social media detox.
- Wait 48 hours before purchasing. If you feel like you want something – NEED SOMETHING – wait a couple of days before buying it. Email it to yourself and label it ‘want to buy’ then try to forget about it. Unless it’s something you really need, odds are you’ll forget about it.
- Shop your house. Or your friends’ house. If you want some new furniture or decor, see if you can move some from another room. Re-use what you’ve already got before purchasing. Often it’s freeing to find a solution that cost you nothing.
Follow this checklist until your tidy routines become second nature.
4. Do Without
Doing without does not come naturally and is not altogether pleasant. I think that often we don’t actually have to do without something, but we simply need to be wiser in how we go about acquiring it.
If you were ever really tight on money then saw an increase in salary or income, you will know about the Lifestyle Creep. When you couldn’t afford it, no worries.
You didn’t buy it.
But when you had some extra money, you’d just buy whatever you wanted as soon as you wanted it. This leads to the opposite of minimalism. It leads to lots of stuff!
How to “do without” for a while to get what you want later
- Save up for your purchases. Sure you could charge it, but it’s actually fun to save up and buy without owing anything.
- Delay big expenditures until special occasions. If you want a nice handbag, wait until you’ve hit a life milestone. Want a pretty necklace? Buy it while on vacation. Instead of just buying whatever you want whenever, attach it to an occasion and it’ll be more memorable and satisfying.
- Plan out purchases. You can plan out purchases then follow the plan. Decide at the beginning of the quarter or when you plan your year and then purchase them at the set aside time. It’ll help you get into the practice of deliberate spending.
Minimalism with a family isn’t impossible!
To sum it all up, here are some ways you can bring minimalism with kids into your home.
- Only have toys that kids play with regularly, not extras everywhere.
- Donate 32,423 of your sippy cups and just use one or two.
- Cull your children’s clothes so they have all they need, but not so many extra that the laundry is never done.
- Get rid of extra devices that the kids always fight over. Kids need to play, not zone out.
You can do this, mama!