People often ask how I can be a minimalist with so many children.
Because children = mountains of stuff, right?!
Well, yes, every person you have in your home means all the stuff they need to live has to be in the house as well, so with more people comes more stuff.
But it doesn’t have to be as much stuff as we think. In fact, embracing minimalism when you have children, makes life much more pleasant.
I embrace what I like to call “Practical Minimalism.”
Minimalism is, after all, a mindset. Not a set of rules, but a shift in the way you view possessions.
Having a family means you will have to have things- you will have to have clothes for everyone, you will have to have toys for children, you will have to have recreational supplies if you spend time outdoors.
But you don’t have to have hand-me-downs ready for the next four years, a plethora of toys for all kids and all playing styles between 2-15 years old or camping, skiing, fishing, soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball, badminton, and frisbee golf equipment.
Figure out what is essential to your family
Talk with the family, ask everyone what their favorite recreation is.
For our family, this is what we kept:
- Basketball & hoop
- Tent camping supplies
- Fishing supplies
- Bicycles & helmets
We don’t participate in sports, but we do like hiking, biking, fishing, and camping. And we live in Montana; we have to have sleds for when it snows.
The same goes for inside the house. It’s easy to get overrun with crafting supplies, so instead, I have narrowed it down to the things they work with:
- Perler beads
- Paper crafts (paper, tape, glue, stapler)
- Coloring (color pencils & crayons – the youngest has a coloring book, but most of the time we print coloring sheets we find online)
- Painting (watercolor paints & brushes)
To keep the number of supplies contained, I have to do two things:
- Keep my purchasing in check. When the kids are interested in something and spend hours creating things with Perler beads, I tend to think “Yay! They’re busy and being creative!! I need to get more to encourage this!” But that backfires!! Don’t do it! The more supplies they have, the more decisions they have to make, and it’s not as fun or creative.
- Limit the storage space for each craft. We have a shelf organizer we have nick-named George. It looks like this one and I rotate what is stored on it based on our needs. Currently, I have a bin for the playdoh & tools, a bin for the paper, coloring, paints, etc. and a bin for the Perler beads. It’s easier to manage if they have stuffed to the brim, so I’m committed to using up supplies before buying more.
Minimalism simplifies the laundry
Having a system for clothes is important. It often doesn’t matter what the system looks like, as long as there is one in place.
It starts with limiting the number of clothes each person has. Now, I only recommend doing this for children who are under 12 or want your help. The older they are, the more it needs to be their decision. You can talk to them and encourage them, but don’t force it. If you have a child that is a fashionista- get on youtube and watch some capsule wardrobe videos together. One of my favorites is Jennifer Scott’s Ten-Item Wardrobe.
Keep enough clothing for 7-8 days. If you do laundry every day, you can get by with less, but if you have to do laundry on the weekend, having a week’s worth of clothes is a good rule of thumb.
Minimalism gives more breathing room to the calendar
When you have children, it’s easy to have a full schedule- with all the schooling and extracurricular activities; there is hardly a moment to sit down unless you’re in the car.
Because embracing minimalism means you’re evaluating what is essential and discarding the rest, talk to the family again- figure what they enjoy doing and what they don’t.
Get out of commitments that no one views as necessary or enjoyable.
Minimalism allows you to focus on the important without being overwhelmed
I see this in the every-day-life of minimalist families across the country. Minimalism has given them more freedom to homeschool, embrace healing diets, travel full-time and become foster/adoptive parents.
Could they have done that without minimalism? Sure! But minimalism did make the transition easier for them.