Thoughts on Minimalism: Living the Streamlined Life with Kids
This is the second post in a series on minimalism. There is so much information on the internet about minimalism, but I wanted to share my reasons for pursuing a simpler life. It took me awhile to write this post, mainly because I want to make clear that minimalism, while a wonderful add-on philosophy while raising kids, is not the only way to do things. It's beneficial, and I think it's wonderful for kids, but if it's not your thing, that is just fine. With that caveat aside, let's jump in!
This morning my daughters and I spent an hour creating a 6 foot long "map" complete with mountains, a lake, a volcano, and even unicorns. Afterward, we put on dress-up clothes and went on a journey with the map that ended at a castle filled with unicorns. Make believe play is so satisfying for kids because the main "toy" that they use is their imagination.
Imagine two ways to store a child's toys. The first is a deep toy box and all of their toys are in it. The second way is a low, open shelf, and the toys are placed on the shelf and completely visible. The large, packed toy box makes it difficult to find a favorite toy because a child will have to dig around until they find it, usually losing interest first. Whereas with the open shelf, the child can immediately see the toys that they value most.
It's the same with a child's life. Minimalism helps make white space in the child's environment and allows room for creativity and imagination. If the metaphorical toy box is overflowing, how will the child recognize what adds value to their life and what doesn't? It's the same thing with adults: we often cram our schedules to the brim, buy and fill our homes with stuff, and forget what truly brings us joy in the first place. We then wonder why contentment continues to elude us.
We the parents tend to hold onto our child's clothes, toys, and books way longer than we should. Whether for sentimental, financial, or guilt reasons, it can be hard for us to let go. But if your child is no longer regularly engaged with that object and doesn't value it, perhaps you should consider letting it go so that there is more room for the things that DO add value. There are so many ways children experience the world and find value in it, and often it is not through objects but rather through adventures in nature, relationships deepened in community, and a chance to experience boredom and the joy that comes from conquering it through their own creativity.
If you feel inspired to pursue a more streamlined life with your family, consider the following helpful resources:
Clutterfree with Kids: This book by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist is an excellent "why to" and "how to" implement minimalism within your family and a must read if you're new to minimalism.
Simplicity Parenting: One of my absolute favorite parenting books is this absolute gem by Kim John Payne. I highly recommend it!
Family Adventure Podcast: This website may seem like an odd fit with minimalism, but long-term travel and minimalism go beautifully hand in hand. And when you have less stuff to worry about, you'll have more time to travel and learn around the world with your family. If your life is feeling ho-hum, these inspiring podcasts will motivate you to pursue a new direction.
If you missed the first post of the series on Minimalism and Christianity, you can find it here.