Minimalism seems to be up and coming these past few years. Seeing friends, family and even bloggers (“Hi!”) share their stories can be exciting, but also overwhelming. If you’re curious about decluttering and slowing down, your gut reaction to witnessing others’ success might be to feel immediately excited , and instantly motivated to jump in with your own home. Or, you might feel intimidated, maybe even a tad jealous. You might think, “Well that’s good for them, but I could never get that to work for me.” I know that’s how I felt at first.
I’m going to be bold and say that ANYONE can streamline his or her home to reduce stress. Does everyone need to identify as a “minimalist”? Of course not! But here’s the secret: there are lots of ways to reap the benefits of minimalism with kids (and their toys!) underfoot, no matter what your end goal is.
1. Start with yourself. If the kids' rooms or play space is overflowing and causing stress, but you don’t know how to start – leave that area. Go to your closet or other area with stuff that you own and control 100%. Consider doing a capsule wardrobe experiment like Project 333 to challenge yourself, and see how much you really need to be comfortable. Work through all the little lotions and potions in your bathroom, pare down in the kitchen – do you need 5 spatulas? Keep stuff in a “maybe” box by your door or in your garage if you can’t commit to really getting rid of those 3 extra serving dishes you never use. Once you’re feeling a bit more free and less stressed getting dressed or cooking, use your newfound calm to tackle the hard areas of your home, like those pesky overflowing toy bins.
2. Embrace physical parameters – real or made up. If you live in a tiny house or out of a suitcase, you’d have to drastically pare down to the essentials. Minimizing may not come easy if you actually do have the space. Give yourself physical parameters for your stuff anyway. It could be as big as not wanting to store any boxes in the basement or garage, or as small as clearing out and leaving one drawer in your dresser or side table empty. A big rule I have in my house is – if a drawer/bin/basket has to be perfectly organized in order for everything to fit, there’s too much stuff. That goes for everything from kitchen tools, to t-shirts, and toys.
3. Stop the tide of stuff coming in. This is hard, but simplifying and purging just to let the floodgates open at birthdays and holidays (or any special occasion) is an important part of keeping up with an uncluttered, stress-free space. Celebrate with ice cream or a fun hike instead of a new toy. Let grandparents and friends know that you’re trying to pare down and have a specific list ready for holidays. Include “experiential” gift ideas, like class passes or a zoo/aquarium/play space membership. Do whatever you can to limit toys and stuff that comes through the door. Consider a “shopping ban” or even just a “one in, one out” rule. Toys and miscellaneous stuff seem to come home with your kids anyway, but control what you can.
4. Don't buy toys – rent them! When you get your kid a new toy, it’s exciting for them AND you. From the start, however, you’re “on the hook” for managing this item. From debating about the price you paid, to having to deal with the complicated (and possibly frustrating) plastic packaging, to having to make decisions about what to do when the toy breaks or inevitably get’s ousted for other toys your child enjoys more. Check out Green Piñata’s amazing service. Rent your toys and watch your kids enjoy new puzzles, games, toys and open-ended activities that they can enjoy for a while and then be returned in exchange for new ones. That’s it!
Embracing certain areas of minimalism can reduce both clutter and stress in your home, as well as in your daily life. I hope these tips benefit your household as much as they have benefitted mine. Remember – you don't have to go full minimalist to embrace certain aspects of minimalism in your daily life.
Which of these ideas for embracing minimalism in your home is your favorite? Share with us in the comments!