Minimalism with kids seems like an impossible ideal. I get it. I’ve had the same thoughts. Yet, after practicing some of the concepts of minimalism with my kids, I was surprised by their reactions and the benefits. Never in a million years would I have thought them having fewer toys would have such huge benefits.
My kids did not initially embrace minimalism. They kind of freaked out the first time I cleared out some items from the house. I talked to them about how I was trying to simplify things in my life, and about how we really wanted to start living with less. While reluctant in the beginning, my kids knew I was not going to back down.
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Prepare your kids for a life with fewer toys
Minimalism doesn’t happen overnight, just like the accumulation of stuff you have in your home didn’t happen overnight. It took years. There is a reason you are wanting to practice minimalism, and you need to share it with your kids. For me, it was simply stating, “Mommy is tired of cleaning up all the time. We are lucky to have so much stuff, and it is time to share it with people who can’t have these kinds of things.”
That’s just it. Mama was tired of cleaning up all the time. The clutter never seemed to stop, and more and more toys were entering the home on a regular basis. My kids needed fewer toys so mama wouldn’t go broke or crazy!
Here are some of the ways having fewer toys and practicing minimalism with kids will benefit your children:
When your kids have fewer toys stuffed into every crevice in their room, they are forced to use their imaginations. Kids are incredible in how they can use their imaginations, and so many of today’s technological toys almost do the playing for our kids.
I love watching my kids pick up MagnaTiles and turn them into a make-believe pizza shop and bakery, serving us all their homemade delights. I also love to watch them pick up a simple cape and go from being a super-hero to a princess, all within a ten-minute span. It is amazing to see what their little brains come up with in their play, all because they have toys that spark imaginative play.
Toy clean-up gets easier
When your kids have fewer toys, the clean-up in their rooms and in their playroom gets so much easier. Everything has a designated place, which makes it easier to put things away. Although kids will still be kids and will probably fight back regarding picking up, they will no longer feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of toys to clean-up.
My kids used to have meltdowns when I asked them to clean their rooms. Now that they have fewer toys, even though they push back sometimes, the meltdowns have stopped. They have specific baskets and other easy storage solutions that make picking up toys a breeze.
When kids don’t get a new toy with every visit to Target (true story, I know people who do this), then they start to really appreciate the toys they own. Giving your kids their needs is important. However, you do not have to give your kids everything they desire. In fact, if you give your kids everything they desire, you are not teaching them to appreciate and value what they have already.
I admittedly used to buy my kids way more than they needed. It was so easy because we could afford it, so why not buy it? I was lucky to be able to provide for my kids, so I thought. The thing is, they were turning into spoiled kids who did not always appreciate what they were given. To watch them open Christmas presents or birthday presents and just throw them aside to move on to the next one was almost embarrassing. After practicing minimalism with kids and adopting a life with fewer toys, they now show way more gratitude when they receive something new.
More time outside
When your kids have fewer toys, it is like the house pushes them outside to play. Nature is our playground, and kids know how to use it to the wildest depths of their imaginations. A stick becomes a sword. Chalk on the sidewalk turning into a game involving all the neighborhood kids, and a large rock becomes a castle. Kids who go outside end up running and exercising more, teaching them healthy habits that grow into adulthood.
When your kids play outside more, it also forces the grown-ups outside more often. Seeing your kids laugh and play outside brings back memories before smartphones and other electronic toys existed. It encourages you as the adult to remember the fondness of bike riding and hopscotch. Go outside and play with your kids! You won’t regret the feeling or memories being made!
When you embrace minimalism with kids and have fewer toys, you get to teach them early on that experiences are more important than having a room bursting at the seams with toys. Talk to your kids about minimalism. Point out the benefits when you are experiencing them. Instead of giving toys as gifts, consider other minimalist gift ides for kids, such as a visit to a museum.
For example, one thing we do is offer the kids a weekend trip over a large birthday party. My kids love to take trips, and I was once pleasantly surprised when one gave up a large party to take a weekend trip to a waterpark. They learn quickly that memories are more enjoyable than toys.
When you declutter your kid’s room, talk about how you will be giving many of the items away to other kids in need. My kids initially fought back when I talked about decluttering their rooms. Once we started discussing other kids who did not have any toys, they wanted to be more generous, and they wanted to give away the toys they no longer needed.
Recently, my youngest walked up to me and said, “Mommy, these cars are for babies. Let’s give them away to a little kid.” Kids have the sweetest hearts. Teach them the benefits of giving rather than excess early on in life, and maybe they can avoid the dangers of excess spending as adults.
A Happy Mom
When kids have fewer toys, mama has less to clean up. When mama has less to clean up, she is happier. A happy mom is more likely to sit down and play with her kids because she now has the time and the patience and is not worried about all the future clean-up battles.
Less really is more
Kids today really do need fewer toys. Minimalism with kids can have tremendous benefits for a child. It can teach them skills they will carry into adulthood, hopefully before they are obsessed with our culture of excess and consumerism. Kids are adaptable, and they are sponges. Don’t be afraid to try something new. I promise they won’t hate you. In fact, one day they may thank you when they realize living with less stuff can make you happier.
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Want more great ideas? Check out my Minimalism With Kids Pinterest board. There are great ideas from minimalist moms trying to live a simple, more fulfilled life.