The more people you have in your home, the more challenging it is to embrace a minimalist lifestyle: unless you can get everyone on board.
This is going to vary significantly from family to family, with different preferences, personalities and ages there is no one-size-fits-all way of approaching minimalism or getting the rest of the family to share your vision.
Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk!
Before you’re ready to make any serious changes in your home, give your family time to warm up to the idea. If you’ve been toying with the idea for the last six months, give them that same opportunity. That doesn’t mean you have to wait six months before starting to simplify, but it does mean you should give them time to mull over the concept before you ask them to get rid of a bunch of their stuff.
Talk about articles that you have been reading or podcasts you’ve been listening to. Talk about the benefits of minimalism and how life would look if you aimed for simplicity.
Talk about the decluttering challenge that you signed up for or other people that you know who are participating and what sort of goals/rewards they put in place.
Talk about what you want your family life and home to look like, ask them what they want it to look like. What do they want the freedom to do on a regular basis? Would embracing minimalism help you achieve those visions?
Start with your stuff
Your spouse and older children might take time to come around to the idea of simplifying and all the benefits of it, but you can give them the best example of how wonderful it is by editing your areas first.
What spaces can you declutter then? If you are the only one that cooks, simplify the kitchen. Work on your wardrobe and your book collection.
Think about the areas of the home that you already have complete control/say-so of and work in those places.
Keep personal items in personal spaces
Think through the kitchen, living room and dining room areas and what is kept there. If there are a lot of personal things, come up with a different way to storing them. It might seem like more work for your 12-year-old to carry his trombone up to his room, but having the open space in your day-to-day life will make the shared living spaces feel so much more company-ready.
Backpacks and hobby supplies should be in their appropriate places, not stored in the living room by the front door.
We don’t keep DVD or BlueRay cases anymore. Instead, we have several CD wallets where we store all our movies. We were able to get rid of about 200 cases and consolidate them into 2 CD wallets, which means the entertainment center looks tidy and there is room for the remotes to sit on the shelf.
In the kitchen, there is no need to have four different bottles of chili powder. Either toss the expired ones, consolidate all of them into one or give away what you know you won’t be using in the near future.
Replace the abundance of cheap items with fewer but high-quality items
When I was first out on my own, I didn’t realize that there were higher quality measuring cups and I just bought the cheap plastic ones- they broke, and I would buy a new set and keep the old ones as well, ending up with quite a few different plastic sets of various colors. But you can get rid of all of them when you replace them with a will-last-forever-and-not-just-in-the-landfill stainless steel option.
Instead of having a bunch of different cheap pots & pans for cooking, invest in 3 high-quality ones in the sizes you use the most. Having quality supplies has made a difference in my cooking: I would rather wash my favorite pot then to keep the ones that food sticks to or always burns on the bottom.
Work through a program together
Have a teenage daughter that loves clothes? Sign up for Project 333 and learn how to create a capsule wardrobe together.
Print out the yearly decluttering challenge chart and set some goals and celebrations, ice cream together? Dinner and movie? (Let them know that getting rid of the excess doesn’t mean they are committing to full-on minimalism.)
Walk through the 30 Day Guides together and find your own form of minimalism. There is no right or wrong way to be a minimalist, and it all starts with how you view your time and energy. Some minimalists will have a tiny capsule wardrobe and a fully stocked kitchen because they enjoy having a streamlined closet, but they live to experiment in the kitchen. Other minimalists might stick with an extremely minimal kitchen but have an elaborate walk-in closet because they thoroughly enjoy fashion.
Remember that minimalism is a tool.
Minimalism is merely a tool to help you live the life that you want to live. It’s not going to accomplish things for you; it’s not meant to rule your life and give you strict boundaries. It’s a way to keep things in perspective so you can do the things that are truly important to you.
And it’s a process
You can’t get there overnight, and neither can your family. It takes effort and a change of thinking. Editing your home and your calendar will be like peeling off layers.
- 13 Practical Ways to Simplify Your Family’s Day
- Large-Family Minimalism
- How to Encourage Kids to Clean and Declutter their Spaces