Can Minimalism Really Work When You Have Kids?
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You’re a single guy. Can minimalism also work for families?
Kids almost intuitively find it easier to embrace minimalism. Minimalists are happier people. Kids notice that benefit right away. They understand that you have more time to spend with them. And trust me, they definitely understand the benefits of not having to clean their room. One family I know has two children who were basically born into minimalism. One of the kids is happy with just his soccer ball and a Nintendo. The other child—you name it, she collects it. It’s truly what works for you. You don’t have to throw everything out and live in a cabin. You just have to reprioritize.
How can parents hope to cut back on the physical clutter that comes with babies, children, and family life?
Well, we all know how to declutter a closet. Really… we do. We just don’t know why. It’s not the most fun task in the world, going to the basement or storage locker and sorting through boxes and boxes of stuff. But remember that it’s all a physical manifestation of mental clutter. The real payoff is to ask yourself, “How might my life be better if I owned less stuff?” The allure of consumerism is a quick fix. We’re always catching up, trying to bring things into our life to bring joy. But really…the cost of those material possessions is far higher than the price tag.
Do you have any other tips for parents hoping to achieve success as a family of minimalists?
One: Lead by example. It’s easy to see someone else’s clutter, but not your own. Two: Let your kids see the benefits. You’ll have more time to yourself and for your kids, you’ll have more money, you’ll be happier, less stressed, and you’ll have more opportunity for experiences. Three: Start small. Minimalism isn’t about deprivation. Remove one possession a day for a month. Then you get momentum. Minimalism gets easier by the day! It took me eight months to pare down my possessions. And don’t forget, everyone has a different ‘flavor’ of minimalism. What works for one person may not work exactly the same for you.
Wanting a sense of security for your family can be a lot weightier than wanting to ensure security for just yourself. Have you seen parents successfully apply minimalism to their lives?
Clearing the clutter from life’s path makes room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution. In this book I talk about one of my mentors, Leo Babauta, who writes the Zen Habits blog. He leads a simplistic life—with his wife and six kids [who are homeschooled]. The truth is, we avoid difficulty in our lives. But minimalism doesn’t have to be difficult: A five-degree pivot can still change your direction.
Curious to learn more about minimalism and hear from The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus? Check them out on tour with their book, Everything That Remains, at local stops in New York City and Hartford, CT.