Minimalism can be a challenge for adults, but using logic and finding a path to keeping only what is essential or love makes it possible to minimize the possessions and achieve a balance.
But what about children? Many parents who successfully applied minimalism to their lifestyle want to teach it to them, to become more resourceful and considerate.
Even though I'm not an educator and under no means a guide on what to do, it is just a simple list of advice that you may apply to your house if you consider it applies.
The first five ideas I would suggest to implement before the proper introduction to minimalism, so you want to lay the foundation before building the house.
Let them see you decluttering
When it comes to kids is better to lead with example, rather than telling them what to do but not seeing you do what you preach; children are like sponges and absorb everything their environment throws at them.
Instead of talking to them about minimalism, which they may find boring, let them see you when you declutter the kitchen cabinets or the home office where they study. They will get used to the idea of decluttering and keeping the spaces with essentials way before you even introduce the concept of minimalism to them.
Lead with example
Talking about how great minimalism is will fall on deaf ears if you don't follow what you preach.
Going to the mall, not when you need something but to spend a family afternoon, is the exact opposite of what a minimalist would do. Everyone in the family will be vulnerable to consumerism.
Instead of going to the mall, go to the park, beach, river and do free activities such as playing hide and seek or admiring nature. Nobody says that going to the movies every once in a while is terrible, but your priority should be on cheap or inexpensive ways to have fun.
And if you want more ideas to have fun without money, check out this article.
Take grocery shopping as a teaching opportunity
If your kids like to go shopping at the supermarket with you, take this as an opportunity to introduce the idea of sticking to the list when shopping, ask them to help by bringing what's on the list, congratulate them for helping and not grabbing anything that wasn't on the list.
You can double down on the life lesson by telling them about each product and sway their perspective on certain items, such as fresh produce, range free eggs, products with a negative impact on the environment, etc.
Gift them experiences instead of material things
People who practice minimalism are well aware that things don't bring joy.
Still, this concept may not be something to think about; they focus on the latest toy or gadget.
Know that it's ok to give them a gift on their birthday or Christmas if you celebrate it. As a parent, it is your responsibility to show them that spending some hours playing family games or doing any activity together is more significant.
Trips over toys
I wanted to follow the previous advice line, ask yourself if getting a new toy on every important date is necessary or if you can switch buying a bunch of presents for a family trip to a natural reserve or an attraction park like Disney.
Limit the exposure to marketing
Children are an easy target to sell toys, as they will want what they see, this is probably another good reason to cut cable, and choose other ad-free platforms like Disney+, Netflix, or Amazon Prime.
Teaching about Minimalism
With these tips, you have created a natural introduction to minimalism, so the next tips won't make your children feel like they are being forced into minimalism, reducing a rebellious front.
Ask them for help
Remember the first advice about decluttering in their presence? Just make sure you do not declutter everything and leave some things to do; this way, you can ask for their help, like the junk drawer or the shelf in the living room.
As they help you, talk to them about minimalism, explain what you are doing, and ask them what you should keep and what should be given away.
Please make sure the areas they help declutter aren't overwhelming to focus on learning about minimalism instead of the number of things to declutter.
Encourage them to declutter their belongings
Now that they are aware of the minimalist process and why it is essential to living with less materialistic things, help them decide what to keep.
A big issue with children is not how many toys they might have but not wanting to part ways with them, even when said toys had been forgotten to favor new ones.
It's crucial to teach them when they are still young that material things don't equal happiness, and that their unused toys in good condition could bring joy to children in need.
And remember never to declutter their things without their permission; not only are you cheating your way to minimalism, but you are also crossing the line and breaking the trust your children may have with you.
Let them choose and make mistakes
There is no point in encouraging them to declutter if, in the end, you will discard their idea; nobody is born with knowledge, so let them make mistakes and learn from them. One big issue many parents have is feeling their children shouldn't make mistakes, so they do everything for them.
It is also essential to teach the value of money and manage it; they can learn about investing later but being aware of the importance of money early on is vital for a healthy relationship with their finances when they become adults.
Give them a weekly allowance, create a budget with them, guide them, so they learn each penny's value, eventually give them autonomy with that money, and let them make mistakes.
Children need discipline from an early age to learn boundaries and respect others; one way to do so at home is by establishing clear rules about tidiness.
For some, it might be that the toys stay in the kid's room as any other personal item from other family members also stays within their space, there will be no toys or phones in the table while people eat, or that every toy must be placed back into its original place after playing with them.
Don't buy too many clothes
Just as you do with your wardrobe, apply the same concept to theirs, don't buy too many clothes, avoid trendy pieces, pick neutral colors, and mix and match all the other garments.
If they have older siblings, give them their used clothes and let them know that there is nothing wrong with inheriting their sibling's outfits, and this way, the house contributes to taking care of the planet.
Unless that later in life, they decide to work in the fashion industry, they won't need to own that many clothes, so learning how to manage their wardrobe is an excellent lesson to learn from an early age.
All the family must help
All this effort won't matter if other family members give a contradictory message, so at least when you are together, ask them to appear minimalist; this could mean not giving the kid a gift or sweets every time they visit your house.
Remember, you are just a guide
Remember to always be patient throughout the process; minimalism is a long journey, and expecting a change in a week is unrealistic. By trying to speed up the process, you are dooming yourself and your children to failure.
Taking the time to teach them about minimalism from a young age will leave a life lesson that will impact the rest of their lives positively.
Ultimately the changes to the physical space won't matter as much as the lesson; we have no right to force anyone to think like us, so don't focus on the result but the process, and make sure you teach with joy about minimalism to create a strong bond with your children.
If you have any questions please write it down below and I'll answer it as soon as I can.
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