Minimalism and a Family Dynamic

Minimalism is about living more with less.

Incorporating that idea into a family dynamic can be difficult. How do you get kids – who always want the newest, best, and next – to scale down and simplify?

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, authors of the book Everything That Remains give the advice “spend half the money and twice the time with your family.” While this may seem easier to say than to do, minimalism is different for everyone.

Minimalism can be something that you embrace gradually, and within a family there might be people who are more or less comfortable with what minimalism means, and that’s okay. If you’re looking to embrace minimalism in your family but aren’t sure where to start, here are some helpful tips:

Start with a conversation: Talk to you family. Explain that they don’t have to get rid of all their stuff, but you want to help them identify what is truly important and necessary. This helps you gauge where each person’s respective comfort level and openness to the idea of minimalism is.
Start small: Take on a spring cleaning challenge. Have each family member go through their stuff to get rid of or donate it. If there are clothes or shoes that no longer fit or a pile of old toys that are no longer played with, let them go. Doing this as a family helps to show your kids that everyone is on board. Make a day of it and make it fun.
Realize there will be setbacks: It is inevitable that there will be some challenges. Embrace them. If your kids end up with a pile of new stuff from birthdays or holidays it can be frustrating incorporating these new items. Look at it as an opportunity to replace older items. Your kids might want a new toy because of an online video or a commercial they saw. It is okay, you don’t have to give up getting your kids things they want, but use it as an opportunity to show them value. Have them help out around the house or get a part-time job to earn the things that they want.
Spend on experiences: Spending time together is valuable. Enjoy more family activities. Go to the park or to see a movie, cook a family dinner, maybe have a game night. Instead of buying presents for holidays, consider going on a family vacation. Try taking on a family challenge or competition. Create new traditions. Memories outlast material items.
Lead by example: It might be very easy for you to let go of things, de-clutter and live with less, and other members of your family might be fully on board too. If that isn’t the case it is okay. Be mindful, and be accepting. Focus on the positives and work with them on what they are willing to do. Be willing to make compromises. Once others see positive changes they might be more willing to take it on. You can’t control your family or force them to accept minimalism, but you can inspire them.

If you’re interested in learning more about minimalism or how to embrace minimalism in your family, The Minimalists website is a great resource on how to get started. The book Clutterfree with Kids is also a great guide for parents seeking to incorporate minimalism.

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Photo Credit: Emily May

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