Minimalism with kids is it possible? Yes definitely possible AND also hard. I know it may feel like minimalism and having kids is a conflicting idea – but it’s not I promise.
A lot of what we do as parents is very automatic. We parent from how we were parented (or from how we were not) and that includes how we engage in consumerism and what our relationship with things looks like.
In order to disengage in this type of automatic consumerism we have to do a lot of work. Who taught us about things growing up? What significance and meaning did those things have?
Engaging in this form of decolonization and exploration of what we have been taught about things allows us to understand why we participate in consumerism in the manner we do. It’s a vital process, as not only are we fighting our embedded teachings, we are fighting companies who spend millions on marketing to our little ones. So when they come to us wanting whatever new toy they just saw – we need to have an understanding of why we will or will not go out and buy it. This understanding creates space for boundaries around how we give love, how we show love and how we receive love, which all is directly correlated to consumerism.
(See how many toys we need, they prefer the laundry basket 🤷🏻♀️)
Minimalism allows us to set those boundaries in a healthy way and it allows our children to learn healthy habits. Once we have identified why we spend the way we do, we will spend a lifetime unlearning toxic habits. Personally I want to teach those healthy habits to mis amores now so that later they do not have to spend their energy unlearning and relearning a healthy relationship with consumerism.
I personally have spent a great deal of energy on understanding my relationship with consumerism. Something I’ve come to realize is that my giving of things was my way to show love (or so I had been taught). Before I began living intentionally I was a gifter of all great gifts and things. When my oldest was turning one he received 5 pair of baby shoes (which no baby actually needs), a sleeping bag with his name on it (which again no baby needs), cars, toys, stuffed animals, clothes, you get the point, he got it all. That’s how I was showing him love.
Every place we visited, the Butterfly Garden, the Zoo, the Science Center, I bought him something to show my love and also because I truly thought that’s how he would remember our time together. But the reality is those toys I bought, they broke, that build a bear, he never played with it, and even the books, the next kid came along and ripped out all of the pages. None of those materialistic things were memories for him, and as it turned out he has a great little memory all on his own. He remembers going to the zoo, and the aquarium, and playing in bubbles at the park, sure pictures probably help, but the things, those never did a damn thing.
(They’ll remember these moments)
The point is minimalism with children is completely possible. I personally have found that giving away all the unnecessary stuff opens up space for us to radically imagine together, to play together, and to be free together. But it’s not without it’s work. We can give away all of the toys we want to, but without having a good idea of why we even buy them in the first place, we will buy them all up again.
Intentional living is possible, and even after we search through our history and understand what we’ve been taught about consumerism we will continue to fight the urge to buy every day. And that’s ok, as we live intentionally we begin to recognize where those urges come from and can finally name them. We also have a better idea as to why we are fighting against those urges. For me I’m fighting against consumerism for the purposes of freedom. To spend more times like these with my family and less time trying to afford the next thing.
Interested in starting the process of minimalism with kids? Unsure where to start? Besides doing the much-needed work discussed above here are some more ideas:
- Start with having birthday parties where you ask for no toys, ask for experiences, bowling, movies, magic house gift cards etc. Or ask for donations to a local organization. No one likes to show up emptied handed (which is a conversation in itself) so allow people the option to give something other than a toy, or to bring something like a dish, or drinks instead.
- About to be a new mom? Buy a few items for your baby, skip the swing right away, not all babies love that type of motion. Two out of the three of my kids did not, they loved my arms and their sling and that was about it. Talk to people who have had several children, ask them what their most vital things were. Get those and let your baby guide you from there.
- Do a one-gift holiday rule. We have actually changed to no gifts, but that’s because we do trips, or other experiences.
- Clear out the toys – LET GO and let your kids help you with this. This is a time to teach them about holding on to the things that bring them pure joy, and about not being afraid to let go of the things that slow them down. The more things we have the more we will be slowed down by them and the longer it will take us to walk in our purpose. Kids have been handed down wisdom from our ancestors, they have a purpose too, even at their young ages – so let them not be burdened by things and let them explore outside, color more, use their imaginations.
As always – there is so much to minimalism. If you have questions about how to practically put this into place let me know. Want to talk about what things mean to you I am always available.
Live into your purpose fam and bring the babies along for the ride.