'If it’s cheap, plastic, gendered, or branded, it doesn’t stay': How to parent with less
One of the first things that every new mother is presented with is a long list of essential items that must be immediately acquired in order to successfully carry, birth, adopt, foster or otherwise raise a child.
Aside from costing a small fortune (an estimated R90 000 a year) the sheer quantity of ‘stuff’ that children seem to need can be overwhelming. All this clutter in the home has been proven to cause parents to feel anxious, helpless and overwhelmed so it’s no wonder that the minimalist movement is gaining momentum.
A minimalist lifestyle promises a cleaner house, more time to do what you love and less stress on everyone.
Do you embrace minimalism as a parent? Send us your comments and we could publish them. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous.
How to achieve this nirvana?
There are a few common clutter problem areas in every family home, so we’ve gathered some top tips from a number of minimalist parents, including the experts at Minimalist Mom and Simple Families, to give you a starting point:
Spend some time going through the kid’s toys and sort into boxes to donate, store, keep and toss. Older children might understand and happily help, but younger children may become stressed at the thought of losing their possessions, so be discrete and sensitive.
It helps to do some research into the benefits of open-ended play, and how kids with fewer toys are happier. Donate toys that they have outgrown, store those they will enjoy at a later stage, keep a few favourites and toss out or recycle old, broken items.
You’ve probably heard of the capsule wardrobe, but have you considered implementing one for your kids? The concept is the same: have only a few good-quality, durable, classic items of clothing, and wear them out.
The key to keeping the clothes to a minimum is to regularly remove items that no longer fit, to avoid the sales and only buy an item when it is necessary, to keep shoes to a minimum and to do laundry more frequently.
There is a difference between a child-friendly home and a child-proof home. While it is often said that you can’t have nice things and also have kids, your home should be one that the whole family loves spending time in. When it comes to de-cluttering common areas, take a family-centric approach.
It helps to use storage systems that make it easy for anyone to pack items away when they’re not in use, such as shelves, open-top storage bins and designated storage areas.
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It’s not just mess that can be minimised. If every weekend is packed with birthday parties, school events, chores and extramural activities, then there is little time to relax and to enjoy family time together.
It’s okay to say no to activities that add stress and leave everyone exhausted, without adding enough benefit to the family dynamic.
Remind yourself that you don’t have to do it all, you can choose to do just what is important. Time is a valuable family resource, so try to set a healthy mix of structured activities and unstructured play time for everyone.
What minimalist parents say:
“If it’s cheap, plastic, gendered, or branded, it doesn’t stay. The exception being some books and stuffed animals. I’m thinking about putting a toy rotation in place.” – Lauren
“Our living room is the heart of our home. We play in there, watch movies, dance… everything. So I found a coffee table that had rounded edges, a spot to store things and is the perfect height for adults. It’s functional, keeps things minimal and works great for everyone in the family.” – Emily
“I love the cute stuff for my small people but use a single four-drawer dresser for both children and have eight to 10 hangers and that’s all the storage space I will give to clothes, to keep us at a minimal-ish level.” – Allison
“Every time we see his grandparents, more toys. I now openly tell them that every time they give him a toy, another one is donated – one they have given. I don’t care if it sounds cold but I do not want to live in a home overrun with toys.” – Carla
“Don’t feel bad! Are you crying every time someone declines your invite? No! And neither are the rest of us when you say no.” – Amber
Do you embrace minimalism as a parent?
Send us your comments and we could publish them. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous.