Large-Family Minimalism

When you have a lot of children, there is simply a lot to manage. The grocery list is a mile long; every meal is an event. The schedule can become a frenzied rush to get from here to there in one piece if you’re not careful.
And the laundry piles can be epic! Am I right?!
You might wonder:

Is large-family minimalism even possible?

There’s the clothes, backpacks, and school supplies in the fall. The extra coats, hats, gloves and boots in the winter. A new influx of stuff with every birthday and holiday.
But the answer is yes! It is absolutely possible.
Many large families find their way to minimalism when managing life with stuff becomes more than they can or want to handle. Minimalism may look a little different with a large family and take some extra vigilance but it’s so worth it.

The benefits of minimalism with lots of kids:

Less mess: Lots of ‘littles’ means lots of messes. The fewer possessions you have, the fewer things to clean and put away on a regular basis. Think about it. How many more minutes of your life do you want to spend picking up, or stepping on, the toys that have been dumped out of giant bins for the third time today?
Fewer broken items: Kids break things. It’s inevitable. The more kids you have, the more broken things you’re going to have. It’s an extra stress that’s just not needed.
Less fighting between siblings: I’m not going to say no fighting between siblings, but when you reduce the number of things, especially toys, children become calmer. You’ll hear less of ‘That’s mine!’ and more pretend imaginative play. With less stuff to manage, it’s also easier to keep each child’s ‘special’ things put away in special places when they’re done.
Fewer tantrums when you’re out shopping: Children become used to not getting something every time you go to the store, because it’s part of the minimalist lifestyle. It’s easier to say no to the little wants, because it’s part of the big picture.
Less laundry: When there’s too much clothing, that’s when the laundry pile becomes out of control. Too many choices leads to clean clothes mixed in the dirty clothes, the laundry pile doubles, and there’s too much to fold and put away. Reducing the amount of clothing makes laundry so much more manageable.
Less to do: Less cleaning, less running, less organizing, less searching for missing things, less maintenance. Just less to do overall.
Less grumpiness: Let’s face it; cleaning up all those messes, finding broken things, breaking up fights, surviving tantrums, running all over town. Those things all make us grumpy, tired moms. With fewer of those struggles, we are much happier moms. Happier moms equal happier kids!
More quality time: When you have a lot of children, maximizing your time with each one is incredibly important. By letting go of the tasks that aren’t of value, you end up with more time to really connect with each of your children.
More help: When children aren’t overwhelmed by too much stuff, it’s much easier for them to jump in and help. You’d be surprised what chores the littlest of kids can manage when it’s one simple step, not layers of clutter to pick up and then cleaning.
More space: It’s pretty much guaranteed in a large family that children will be sharing spaces. Less stuff means more space, and every little bit of space counts when you have a large family.
More money: As a minimalist, you will begin to make quality purchases over quantity. As a result, you will take better care of those things. You won’t find yourself buying just because something is on sale; you will buy out of need. You won’t replace items because you can’t find what you need. All of this adds much needed room to the budget.
More effective systems: Organization to every area of life becomes a necessity for survival the more children you have! Flying by the seat of your pants just doesn’t work anymore. Trying to organize when you have too much stuff is pointless and becomes a mess in no time at all. But once you pare down to the right number of items, organization becomes so much easier, and routines become manageable.
More joy and peace: As things start running more smoothly, the budget gets a little bigger, and the kids are calmer, there’s room for more joy and peace in the home.
If you have setbacks, and begin to question whether or not minimalism works with children, remember that above all else, minimalism is a mindset. It’s not about getting down to the smallest number possible of items, making everyone miserable in the process.

It’s about identifying the things you and your family truly value, and letting go of the rest!

For some extra encouragement to get started, check out the stories of these large family minimalists: Carrie Willard and Leo Babauta.

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! Iā€™m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. Kizzy on 05/10/2017 at 1:34 am

    Totally agree about the laundry. I need to start a declutter. After letting things slid over the past three years as I studied for a degree there is too much in our tiny house.

  2. Carrie Willard on 05/19/2017 at 8:30 am

    Hi thanks for linking to me! I had not realized you did until a reader commented and told me she found me here. I’ll add your blog to my feed reader. šŸ™‚

    • Rachel on 05/19/2017 at 9:58 am

      Thanks Carrie! <3

  3. Brittany on 05/20/2017 at 2:22 am

    I definitely agree with you on this one. We have a large family in a very small house and having less possessions is key to an easier and more peaceful life in a small house.

  4. AGS on 06/08/2017 at 4:13 pm

    We will become a family of 6 in a couple months (oldest is 6 years old). We have a smaller house, and to give ourselves more financial flexibility, we’ve decided just to add on a guest/in-law suite next year, but we won’t be using as routine space. As such, I’ve reduced possessions with each child, and find that we never missed much.
    Many people ask “how do you do it” when I say we both work full-time outside of the home, and have a larger family. I always tell them, that we have simplified our lives to the things that matter most, because once you get to 3 kids you simply can’t do /own everything each child wants.

  5. Jannseleven on 08/24/2017 at 12:42 pm

    I have eleven kids. Minimalism is the only way to keep sane with a group this big! Keeping things simple and organized is the key, especially in the kitchen and laundry room. One of my best tips with a big family is that I never kept the kids clothes in their rooms. I set up one area with their clothes and shoes and doled them out from there. I could fit 6 to 8 kids clothes in one working closet and one dresser that was nearest my laundry room. Kept their rooms cleaner and I was always able to find their clothes easily. I hung up hoodies on color coded hangers, tops, bottoms, sleepwear and shoes in labeled buckets. Underwear, swimsuits and socks in the dresser. Their clothes were simple, denim, tan or black bottoms with tops that would go with those colors. All white socks and only four pair of shoes each. The closet was set up in the spring for summer and fall for winter. All snow gear was purchased to be gender neutral so it could be passed down from kid to kid. Besides my own 11, I fostered 78 babies and toddlers. Figuring out the clothes situation was a must!

  6. Kathy on 12/25/2017 at 8:17 pm

    My family of seven, things were crazy hectic, I felt like everywhere I turned there was stuff, laundry toys and papers……
    We lost our 14 yr old in August, most devistating thing I’ve gone through in life this far….
    Three weeks after I started decluttering I averaged 7 to 10 trash bags daily for a mo.( Most our friends thought I was a good house keeper. Lol but here months latter not one child has ever asked for anything that I got rid of. AMAZIng. Things are so clean and clutter free,
    But that’s how I got threw those weeks and now I’m sitting here needing something to do. I must move forward and figure out what I can do to stay busy, it’s killing me.

    • Rachel Jones on 12/26/2017 at 5:38 pm

      Oh Kathy. I’m so sorry.

    • Kirsten on 01/09/2018 at 12:04 am

      I hear you, I lost my daughter almost 4 years ago and there is lots of de cluttering still to do after lots of time with not a lot of extra energy. Plus not wanting to accidentally throw away something sentimental. The struggle is real šŸ™‚ <3

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