Sometimes living in two bedrooms with five people and two dogs makes me feel like I’m sitting inside a pressure cooker. It’s loud and chaotic most of the time, being overwhelmed with request after request, and having your house constantly ripped apart by a small pack of hyenas can be stressful to say the least. Everything in 1000 sq. is amplified. The messes seem messier, the noise is noisier, there is NOWHERE to hide….
This “pressure cooker” feeling led me to many google searches and nights digging through Pinterest hoping something or someone had all the answers to my problems. Then I stumbled on a trendy little thing called “minimalism.” I believe the one that I originally read was “getting rid of stuff saved my motherhood.” Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted from constantly picking up stuff, listening to kids fight over toys, and running out of room to store things, I decided to make a change. Little did I know, this change would start to spill over into all aspects of my life, even our decision to home school.
Since all three of our children share a room I have to be pretty selective on what we keep and what we buy for them. After all, toys and other things usually are exciting at first and then become some sort of carpet ornament by day two. So, unless its something that is actually played with on a regular basis, it goes. Honestly, I hate toys! It brings me such joy getting rid of them, I know…. Mrs. Scrooge. My dislike for toys makes it very easy for me to let things go and I think you will be surprised to find how easily kids will adapt to the idea of having less. They actually play better, don’t feel so overwhelmed by all the clutter and are forced to use their imaginations. Win, win!
Trust me, their room still gets messy, after all, kids are kids, but everything has a place and its much quicker picking it all up. I have tried to adopt the motto of “quality over quantity.” A lot of people say it, but it’s so easy to acquire SO much junk, especially with kids. Birthday party gift bags, toys in happy meals, and cheap little “junk toys” as I call them. Little ones love to collect things! So all the Shopkins, littlest pet shops, etc. are so enticing. They are brightly colored and cheap to buy and before you know it you end up with 150 miniature food shaped things with faces that are strung across the floor and forgotten about. The most important thing to remember is that minimalism with kids is something that can’t just be achieved, it has to be constantly maintained. We are still working on it and have a long way to go, but it’s a lifestyle not just a spring cleaning. Living with less stuff, less square footage, less obligations, just less everything gives you the opportunity for more. More time, more money, more sanity.
The toys were just the first step! After that I started small, cleaning out bathroom cupboards, hall closets, and rubber maids. Next stop, closets! Shoes, clothes from 2002, and that book you read ten years ago. Its got to go! If you are on the fence about starting this process, just do it, once you get started it becomes addicting. I find myself continually going through things and thinking I don’t really need this or that. Now my walls are becoming more bare, my house is easier to pick up and I’m able to have three kids share one closet.
Here are some quick tips that helped me:
*start small and with something that is not sentimental, like the bathroom cupboards.
*Just do a little at a time, otherwise it can feel overwhelming and you are less likely to finish.
*Learn to say no! Say no to that extra play date you were dreading, say no to the toy aisle at target, say no to that free gift bag giveaway.
*Buy quality over quantity. Maybe your children have one or two nicer pairs of shoes instead of fifteen pairs of cheap shoes.
*Stop buying plastic toys! They break easily and can be a major eye sore in your living area.
*For holidays give the gift of an experience! Go on an adventure! Or quality over quantity!
*If you absolutely love it, keep it! If you use it often, keep it. If it’s something “that you might use again someday.” Ditch it. Soon you will own half the amount of stuff!
**** Most important tip! FINISH the job, when decluttering I tend to have boxes of stuff that need to go to Goodwill or Salvation Army and I have failed to even load it in my car. I did all the work of going through things, now it’s time to take that final step.
Sometimes I feel like I’m fighting a never ending influx of stuff. Especially with a very creative daughter who is teetering a fine line between collector of all things and hoarder! Minimalism with kids is definitely possible, but it takes time and some continued efforts. We live in a society where bigger is better! More is better! I’m finding out that isn’t always true. It’s a bit of a life lesson for me and I hope my children learn from minimalism to value moments, experiences and people more than things.
If you need more motivation here’s a link to some great reasons kids need less not more!! Hope everyone has a great week!