minimalism and children
July 26, 2008
reader caron recently asked:
“how do your children feel about living the minimalist lifestyle?”
my simple answer is “very well. better than i expected. and better than their parents in many regards.”
to give you a little background, my son is 5 and my daughter is 2. my daughter has had little input in our minimalizing, but we have worked hard to include my son in the process. we feel that it is important for him to understand what is happening and feel included in the process. wefirst noticed his better-than-expected attitude when we minimalized his bedroom. he loves reading and we were dreading the process of going through his books. but we were shocked when he pulled out far more books to sell at our garage sale than we envisioned. next, he picked out more stuffed animals than we had pictured. thirdly, he cared little about his clothing and didn’t object at all to removing the things from his dresser top. after his bedroom came the big test when we moved downstairs to his toys. again, we were surprised that he had little hesitation in getting rid of many toys that he no longer uses. i even wrote about it here.
the only hiccup that we have encountered was when we removed the toys from our living room and moved them downstairs in the newly formed toy room. as a compromise, we decided to keep some of his books on a shelf in the living room and reminded him that he could still play toys in that room – he just had to return them to their new home downstairs when he is done.
the thoughtful question from caron has caused me to ask the follow-up question: “why exactly has it gone so well? why has my son adjusted so much quicker than his parents?” and i think there are a number of reasons.
he didn’t pay for the things that we’re discarding.
he’s still got more stuff than he could possibly use in one day.
his security is not found in his possessions. his security is found in his stable family.
his memories are not wrapped up in his possessions but in the people he loves.
he doesn’t look for joy in his possessions. he finds it in living life to the fullest.
which makes me think that we’ve all got a lot to learn from 5 year olds.