I do this thing, where I can’t sit and be productive unless I have cleared out the clutter in my workspace.
I used to think this was just a weird “ism” of mine but as I learned about minimalism, I realized this is science. We are learning that our clutter is stressing us out. Every time you have to deal with clutter or extra stuff, you are adding stress to your day. Sure, it is not overwhelming, but it is still subtle stress. Many families realize the burden of subtle stress when they have kids who have to utilize a school uniform. No one realized that picking out school clothes was a burden until you didn’t have to do it anymore. We are learning that kids are equally stressed out about having so many options of toys to play with. More is not better. Kids are able to be creative and learn more when they have less to play with.
We have been practicing minimalism for a few years now (even with a kid), and here are some tips that are helpful in navigating life with less.
One In, One Out Rule
This is a simple rule to stick to when trying to incorporate minimalism with kids. If you bring in something new, something has to go. My husband and I stick to this with our wardrobes and we also do this with my daughter’s toys. One of the biggest barriers to sticking to this rule was that I didn’t want to make a trip to the Salvation Army to drop off one or two items.
I found a nice solution with an empty basket at the bottom of our closet. I order a new dress, the one I decide to donate goes in the basket. My daughter gets a new toy, then I quietly put that toy she hasn’t played with in months in the basket. Then I drop off the full basket in one trip. You can apply this rule to everything in your home that tends to collect. That Tupperware drawer/cabinet is begging for it!
Gifting Season Cleanses
It is really hard to stick to the “one in, one out” rule around big gifting seasons like Christmas or birthdays. This is the time of year that we typically really clean closets and storage out. This allows you to really go through your older things and make room for the newer items. This is also a great time to clean out toys because little ones are usually obsessed with their new ones. The old ones can make a quiet exit without the risk of a toddler meltdown.
Stop Buying Storage
This is a tough one for all those type-A personalities who love storage and organization. In my experience, if you have space for things, you will fill it. This really applies to our house with toys. I have a cabinet of toys for my daughter in the living room. If I can’t get the door closed, clearly the “one in, one out” rule has gone by the wayside and we need to overhaul. It can be so tempting to buy a basket and throw extra toys in there, but soon that will be full too. Stick to the storage you have, and get rid of items to make sure they fit.
There is plenty of inspiration to get you motivated to clear out the clutter! If you have Netflix, check out the documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. This is the documentary that inspired me and my husband, but full disclaimer, the single male perspective of minimalism feels super unrealistic if you have kids and a family. Marie Kondo also has a show that went viral this winter that is super inspiring to get cleansing!
As a therapist, I shamelessly talk with my clients about minimalism. I use it to manage my own anxiety. My daughter’s creativity and independence has exploded living with less toys. Minimalism is more than just a wellness trend, but with all things trendy, there must be a balance. Making tiny achievable changes to your household is the key to making minimalism a tool in your home and not a burden. Figure out what works for your home, and embrace the joy of less!