Since my oldest daughter was born I have tried desperately to minimize all the “things” in our house.
It is hard, because I enjoy having quality toys, and educational, hands on learning experiences for them here. And being in your home most of the time (versus daycare or school) means we enjoy having games to do together, and open ended toys to play with.
Somewhere between quality/useful and too much/excess is a line. That line looks different for every family, but let me tell you I am SO OVER being on the excess side of that line.
When I say I am constantly getting rid of things, I mean our garage is always, always full of boxes to go to donation. So much so that I can barely see my garage flooring; once it’s clear, I think it’s time to go ahead with getting an epoxy coating for it!
And it is stressful! Just cleaning out every week is stressful; continuously having things come in and out of the house is stressful when you don’t believe in having so much stuff. And when getting rid of things, you have to do something with it- drive it to donation, find someone to pick it up, or simply throw it away, which often times feels wasteful! And I hate being wasteful just as much as I hate having too much stuff.
I limit what we buy for our kids, but gifts seem to abound. I *love* having a small home, because quite frankly the bigger it is the more stuff you move in. But I do NOT love having a small home that is overflowing.
I know when I am a little bit older and once all the kids have moved out, I will be downsizing then and moving into a smaller home. I know for a fact my house will not be overcrowded with kid’s toys or anything of a sort. I’ve already searched for multiple builders of cheap granny flats, as not only are they quite simplistic, but they’re also very affordable which is just what I like. I know plenty of people who have gone down this route, whether they’re elderly or not! It’s all about changing your lifestyle, and for now, I’m doing that for my kids.
What is Minimalisim
Honestly, I don’t have a definition for that because I think it is different for everyone. I know that for many, it looks like a LOT less than what we live with.
For me, as the keeper of our home, it means that we don’t have a lot of extra things because they only make life harder. In reference to the kids’ things:
- if it doesn’t get played with or is broken, it goes
- if it is going to break within 5 mins, it goes before it ever gets out of the packaging
- if it is a duplicate of something we already have, it goes
- if it is an outfit I know they won’t choose to wear, or I don’t really like, it goes-not because we are ungrateful, but because why have it in our home if I *know* we won’t grab for it? Someone else can use it, if I know we won’t
Picking up toys and messes is just as hard on the kids as it is me– because THEY are in charge of their things and clothes from 2 years old and up. If it is in the floor, after asking them to pick it up, I throw it away. If I need to vacuum and it is in the floor- to the trash it goes. The more “stuff” they need to manage, the more stressful it is on them, and it takes away from the enjoyment of playing!
When children have so much stuff they can’t enjoy it, there’s a problem; so I try to keep the “stuff” factor as low as possible which allows a lot of room for using their imaginations and lowers the overwhelm factor.
The thing I struggle with the most is holding on to kids’ clothes for the next. We have 4 children, 3 of which are girls. It does not seem practical to get rid of everything once one has outgrown it, because the next can wear it. The baby is still wearing some things that belonged to my oldest!
So while I loathe having boxes of children’s clothes filling my storage space in the basement, it is sort of a necessary evil because, *hello* Buying clothes for kids is a task-they are expensive, every store sizes differently, and you never know if it will be in stock when you’re ready to shop online.
And I am *not* taking 4 kids under 7yo clothes shopping. Might as well hold on to the things I know they will need again such as jeans, leggings, coats, dress shoes, pajamas, and clean shirts/dresses.
Where I (really) fail
Books. I love books. I love reading to my children and I love having nice, quality, non-twaddle literature on hand for every topic, season, and age. They are a passion. I am good about throwing out twaddle or ones that are falling a part. If we miss the book, I will replace it.
But we probably have too many? =/
I know many people like utilizing the library but for us, in this season of life, it is more of a hassle and expense than anything.
But honestly? I’d rather just buy the quality books and have them on hand, because we tend to check out the same ones over and over.
Resale- it is hard to move homeschool curriculum. Or more accurately, it takes time to get it all listed and shipped. There is a hassle there, but selling and making money back on it is really helpful when you need to buy homeschool supplies, books, and curricula each year. So, I usually have a stack of things I need to list for resale … same goes for the boxes of clothes and toys in my garage.
Linens- I sorta have this things about dish rags and towels. Once they have holes (which is only a few months after buying them) I move them from rotation, but being on a farm old linens are *very* handy. So I hold on to them …
Sewing- well. ok, fabric. Enough said.
So yes, lots of room for improvement. =)
why children need fewer “things”- and so do we
Basically- Life shouldn’t be about consumerism and commercialism.
It is sad to me that the minimal I struggle to maintain looks like someone’s dream; so many people do without, while we have an excess, that we mostly don’t want. Buying just to buy “stuff,” even as gifts, is worse than doing without. It can surely be a blessing, but it can also be a burden.
It stinks that sometimes loved ones waste their money on things that a family doesn’t value, when it could go towards something they truly need or would enjoy- like experiences. Memberships pay for themselves so easily, especially when used with friends and homeschool group activities. Money to go towards lessons is helpful.
There are other ways to get creative-my dad likes to send our kids money for dried fruits, and extra food specials they may not always get.
I don’t think anyone wants their money, time, or thoughtfulness wasted or rather, not valued, when the whole point of gifts is just one way of showing love.
Kids will get excited over anything you share with them– whether it is a plastic dollar store toy made in China, or a quality hand made wooden toy from a local shop, books, a membership to the zoo, or just a hug and reading to them. Cooking with them, talking to them, and most do all-listening to them.
My job and (one) goal as their mama is to make sure their hearts don’t focus on the things.
And quite honestly, that is hard to do when we or others give, and make it all about the things. I know it is fun to give them things, and easy to do, but it just isn’t where we want to focus all our attention… or even most do our attention.
I don’t believe adults can give the message of “what’s inside is most important” and “things and money aren’t as important as love and kindness/Jesus/family” while always flooding children with MORE STUFF.
That is a very confusing message.
Budgeting, living within your means, and feeding children healthy, nutritious diets is often hard to do! In trying to be good stewards of our gifts from family, and blessings in general, it is mine and my husband’s job to keep things simple and not the focus of life.
Do we still have too much? Yes. I know we do.
Keeping it minimal for a family of 6 is my goal. I don’t want every inch of our home filled with things and stuff. I know one day the baby toys that have been handed down one after the other will be gone, and
thankfully there will be fewer “things” in the house, and I am going to miss the tiny people that had all the things. But in the mean time, keeping it light, fun, and uncluttered is my goal. (Books don’t count 😉 )
Do you feel overwhelmed by the “stuff” and noise of too much in your home?
Don’t let it hinder yours or your children’s creativity. Get rid of what you don’t use, don’t love, and can live without. Start small and go from there. See how you feel, and then come back to it later to clear out more!
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