You may wonder if it’s practical or even possible to practice minimalism with kids. The word minimalism itself sounds fancy. Maybe a bit intimidating. But it’s actually a simple lifestyle you can slowly ease into. It does take a mindset-shift and daily practice to maintain a minimalistic home. Though it’s something anyone can do.
Creating a minimalistic home with kids does not mean you have to get rid of everything and never shop again. The approach you take can be gentler, yet still help reduce visual chaos. We have to be realistic- there will still be toys on the floor and mashed bananas on the sofa.
In this post, I’ll share my simple tips for how to get rid of clutter and create a peaceful, minimalist home with kids. And, importantly, how to maintain your home this way in the long run. Let’s go!
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Tip #1: Examine your mindset
Having a minimalistic home starts with your mindset. (Doesn’t everything start with mindset? I believe so.)
Consider the following reasons why mindset may be initially to blame for clutter:
Fear of not enough
Many people carry a subtle fear, conscious or not, that there is not enough. There’s a sense of lack rather than a feeling of abundance. This can cause people to over-buy and lead to clutter.
It can be hard to part with items that have sentimental meaning. That is understandable. Sentimental attachment only becomes a problem when everything is special. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed or emotional at the idea of letting go.
Thinking you’re too busy
Thinking you’re too busy to tackle clutter is likely the most common reason. Clutter builds up over time and it becomes overwhelming. Decluttering goes on the back burner for later. Later never happens. Without giving the clutter any attention, the clutter builds over time. Especially our kids’ clutter!
Minimalism mindset solution:
Understand the reasons why you have the clutter so you can tackle it permanently. We are going deep and getting to the root of the problem here.
Related: How to Stop Compulsive Shopping
- Know that if you don’t have something, you can always purchase it later.
- It’s ok to get rid of stuff, it’s a good feeling!
- You’re not required to have everything anyone might need at any time. You’re not Walmart.
- You can always borrow and trade stuff with your friends.
- Remember- you’re creating space for the new when you get rid of the old.
- Can you donate unwanted items to someone who needs or would love them more?
- Can you take a photo and keep your item/s digitally?
Once you know what’s blocking you from having the relaxed, minimalist home you desire, you’ll be better able to deal with the clutter. And maintain a minimalist home long-term.
Tip #2- Get inspired for a minimalist home
It may help to read or view inspirational material to help you with your lifestyle change.
It’s always fun to search Pinterest for decor inspiration!
A fabulous book I just read about decluttering is Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin.
This book is inspiring and motivational. It’s about all the ways decluttering and having less stuff improves your life, and she goes deep.
Rubin also wrote The Happiness Project, which I highly recommend.
Tip #3- Have an initial clean-out day
Focus your attention, make the time, and decide on a day to have a big initial clean out of all the obvious stuff. Enlist some help if you can. Even better if that help is your kids!
(As for how to teach kids that it’s Ok to let go of their clutter? We will get to that in a minute, keep reading!)
If your kids are too little, get a babysitter if possible. You don’t want to get distracted by your two-year-old making even more of a mess as you’re working.
Get boxes and bags and mark them as “donate” “recycle” or “trash.” Do your best and don’t get too stressed. Your main goal should be to go to the Goodwill, Salvation Army, shelter, and/or dump on this day.
**** Do not put your bags/boxes aside to deal with later. **** I can’t stress this enough.
Drop off your stuff on this first day.
Now, I have to call it like it is: one day of decluttering is not going to give you a minimalistic home in the long run.
Maybe you just did a de-clutter 2 months ago and you feel you’re back at square one. Understandable! When you have kids, stuff piles up FAST!
The point I’m getting at is that you also need a daily routine.
Tip #4- Create a routine
Follow a simple daily routine to further declutter, keep things tidy, and create that sense of space and order.
For best results, your daily routine should be two-step: daily cleaning tasks + daily decluttering.
Step 1- Daily cleaning:
- Make your bed. (Kids can make their own if old enough.)
- Empty the trash as needed.
- Throw out junk mail immediately, (recycle when you can!)
- Run the dishwasher at night & empty it first thing in the morning.
- Do laundry daily.
- Wipe down kitchen counters.
- Bathroom tidy, clean as needed.
- Floors as needed.
Use quality cleaning products
I know, all this cleaning doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. But you can make it more enjoyable with good music + great smelling, natural cleaning products. Or use vinegar and water. You can use vinegar for:
- Countertops (not granite, check your material.)
- Inside the refrigerator
Obviously, use common sense and bleach where needed.
I also love a fun, fabulous duster and a decent mop with reusable, washable mop heads.
Ultimately, having a clean, lovely, minimalist house with kids boils down to taking action every day to make it that way. Ever heard of the ABC’s of a clean house? Always be cleaning!
Like I tell my family “It’s not gonna clean itself!”
Step 2- Daily decluttering
The key is to develop a discerning eye.
As you walk around your home, room to room, take note of spaces that need decluttering. Make a list if you need it.
Each day, tackle 5-10 minutes worth of space and make a pile to get rid of. Sort through that pile and throw out the trash, leaving only the donatable items.
An example of 5-10 minutes worth of decluttering would be a bathroom medicine cabinet + linen closet. Or shoes + accessories, (this depends on how much stuff you have, of course.)
Make a designated “get rid of it” area such as the basement or garage.
On the 6th day, (like a Saturday when you’re running to the grocery store anyway,) swing by the Goodwill or other donation center and say goodbye to your clutter.
Wish it well and send good vibes or prayers to whoever ends up purchasing your old stuff. Imagine their happiness at finding what they need for a great price.
Rinse and repeat this process. Within a few weeks or months, you should see a significant reduction in clutter. The key is to be consistent.
I also recommend putting these “Goodwill runs” (that’s what I call them ’cause that’s my closest donation center,) on your calendar:
Tip #5- Organize what’s left & update as needed
We are getting there!
Once you’ve eliminated as much as you can, take a look at what needs to be organized, rearranged, or updated.
There are so many chic, well-designed storage solutions available now.
As for organizing toys, I love using soft yet sturdy canvas containers. This way, if a kid falls on the toy basket, they won’t get hurt.
Helping kids adopt a minimalistic mindset:
I try to encourage my girls to appreciate what they have. To look around and notice how fortunate we are, and to appreciate all the beauty in life. Not just the beauty and fun of the latest toy, but the beauty and cool design all around in nature, architecture, art, etc.
When you point out beauty to your children regularly, they develop an eye for it. They notice the details of daily life which bring them joy and it leads to feelings of abundance.
Focus on friends
You know what Elephant says in the Piggy and Elephant series children’s book I Love My New Toy: “Freinds are more fun than toys!” This is so true!
Focus on activities
Creating fun experiences and happy memories is one of my biggest parenting goals. This could be as simple (and free) as time at a playground together.
Focus on giving
If we can teach our children to be giving to others, we do them a great service. Give to charity, give to their siblings, friends, cousins, neighbors. Give, give, give.
Teach how thrift stores operate
My 6 year old understands (sort-of) how Goodwill works to provide jobs, a place to get rid of your stuff, and a place to buy used stuff for cheap. She feels good about donating the old stuff she no longer plays with. We also love to shop there!
Teach that it’s Ok to let go
Teach that there is always plenty. There will always be more toys. (But as a side-note- I’d never try to get my kids to part with something they still use or love.)
Concluding thoughts on minimalism with kids:
Creating a minimalist lifestyle with kids is totally possible. If you’re sick of the clutter, you can make a change, one day at a time.
Go easy and talk it out with your kids. Start discussions on giving, buying less, and gratitude. Keep buying them stuff, (I mean, how could we as moms not?) but encourage the release of old stuff.
To me, minimalism is about letting go of old stuff and facing the future ready to receive. Making space for something new by releasing something old. And that something new may not be more stuff- it may be less chaos, more clarity, or enhanced creativity.
Minimalism encompasses an attitude of sharing and giving. When I donate stuff, I acknowledge the gratitude I feel for having owned the stuff, and mentally send well wishes for those who next receive it.
Additionally, minimalism requires boundaries for not allowing any old stuff to take up our space. It’s often about saying no.
When we embrace minimalism, we embrace a positive, light-filled way of living. We let belongings come and go, unattached to much of it to a certain degree. Providing the opportunity for change and growth and uncertainty.
Maybe that was a bit “out there,” but it’s how I see it! I love being a minimalist, and I love open space. I hope you can enjoy your home space to its fullest, too.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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