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.

  1. he didn’t pay for the things that we’re discarding.
  2. he’s still got more stuff than he could possibly use in one day.
  3. his security is not found in his possessions. his security is found in his stable family.
  4. his memories are not wrapped up in his possessions but in the people he loves.
  5. 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.

related posts: benfit #2 – the example for your kids, operation: basement, day 1


6 Responses to “minimalism and children”

  1. Jana Says:

    Very well written. I also think that the less they have to play with, the more imaginative the are with the things they do have.

  2. I love the 5 reasons you gave at the end. I think parents can have a hard time with reducing toys b/c they look at them as stuff for the kids to do when they need/want the kids to be busy.

    I’ve just started the minimalist process. It’s quite daunting with all that we have. But at least one thing – we’re not bringing as much new stuff into the house!

    • It is daunting to reduce the amount of loot that you’ve acquired; it’s daunting and also time consuming to go through all the toys, books, stuffed animals, mementos, and other misc. junk. I’ve been working on it for over a year now and am nearing the end. I think. Finding blogs like this where other parents have attempted to remove excess belongings from their home is refreshing!

  3. Trish M. Says:

    This is a good conversation. I’d like to add that the less children have, the more they learn to value what they do have.

  4. AlexM Says:

    Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

  5. This is a very intriguing post, I was looking for this info. Just so you know I found your web site when I was searching for blogs like mine, so please check out my site sometime and leave me a comment to let me know what you think.

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