Minimalist Family, Clutter Loving Friends (Episode 60)
"I'm all on board with minimalism, but no one in my family is!" How do you keep up with the clutter when, as soon as you clear it out, more gifts come pouring in? Minimalism with kids can be tough, but it's not impossible!
In this episode, we highlight some creative ways to help others know how to give to a minimalist!
When is minimalism hard?
It can be tough when you're dealing with a family that has hoarding issues, or you have the token grandchildren, or your family loves their priced heirlooms. Yet there are ways you can break the cycle of accumulation, I promise.
Pin for later:
Where are we this week?
We've been hanging at Henry's Lake State Park in Island Park, Idaho. It's a beautiful setting just 20 minutes from West Yellowstone, and we loved getting the opportunity to explore it at our leisure. On Sunday we landed in the Tetons, and are looking forward to our week here! Follow us on our journey on Insta as the FieldTripGypsies!
Top Three Things when it comes to Minimalism with kids
When you are looking at family, a powerful foundation is starting with a Family Vision. What do you want your family to be all about? Is it ease and simplicity, or exploration and travel? Those little things, like a random store purchase, may impact this.
Second, know the personality styles in your family. People are going to process through this differently. What emotions do you have around things? Sometimes just exploring that concept of "letting go" is the biggest first step.
Minimalism is much more than Ikea - it's clearing the clutter from your home, your head, and your heart.
So, take these little nuggets of wisdom from Stephanie:
- Remember what your goal is. (Is it travel, use less resources? Etc.)
- Remember what is important. For us we wanted to teach our children that people and moments are important, not things.
- Be patient!
Go back to your "why" - does this item serve a purpose in your home or your heart?
When you are sorting through things with your children, look at sorting things into piles:
- Trash - all those little broken pieces, paper scraps, and worn out clothes
- Give Away - think beyond the thrift store and about the families you know - is there a younger child who would appreciate that hand-me-down? Or a family member you know would cherish that memento?
- Keepsake - there are some things that are "precious"...yet they aren't used and take up space. If you aren't ready to part with something, that's okay - you don't have to eliminate everything. What we've found, however, is simply boxing these items up and putting them away for a while allows for some emotional distance to it. And when we bring it back out to go through, it's amazing how many of those prized items are no longer that important. And the few that are, you appreciate more now that you bring them to light and give them the attention they deserve.
- Put back - and then there are the items that pass the gauntlet - they are practical or simply bring such joy to you that you choose to keep them. Be intentional about placing them where you appreciate them, and remember, it doesn't take 50 teapots to remember your grandmother. When you eliminate the majority, you can highlight the one and really use it.
Are you really holding on to something you care about?
There are times when we hold on to all these "precious" items, but they aren't ever noticed or used. Living a minimalist lifestyle has brought to light to us how often we use something. It's helped us see the significance of the things we do choose to have in our home.
When you are moving, don't simply pack boxes based on location. Pack by priority instead. Pack up the things you'll need right away, and put the lesser items in boxes to get to later on. The longer it sits in a box, the less emotionally attached you may be, so your decision on whether to keep it or not may be more clear.
Sales, Bulk purchases, and "occasional" needs
Sometimes we create this "scarcity mentality" like this is the only sale on earth. Guess what - sales happen all the time!
Just because it's on sale...how much are you really saving when you take into account the space it takes up in your life?
What lights you up and gives you happiness to see it? It doesn't mean you don't ever buy things or appreciate gifts that don't hold just a practical purpose. Be intentional about what you hold on to so you really can cherish it.
Teach your loved ones how to give
It's not just a cold and harsh line where you don't accept any gifts. It's simply a reframing of what giving can look like in your home.
Minimalism is more about the creation of a habit - looking at the significance of what you bring into your life, and whether it's worth it to bring it in.
Before anything else, be clear and communicate with your family on your "why" - why are you choosing to scale back on the toys and excess?
Here are some ideas for managing the gift-giving craziness:
- Rotate through your gifts - let kids play with only a few of the Christmas/birthday toys, and switch them out so the "new" and fun lasts longer, and it's not as overwhelming with all the stuff
- Give a fun event - like gymnastics for a week, a painting class, rec center membership, etc - then wrap up something small - a leotard (maybe a hand-me-down), some paints, goggles
- Fun money for splurges. It doesn't have to be a ton. $25 gift card to Amazon. $5 for a kid to get that treat at a gas station stop. Or ones that you can attribute to something special, like a whale-watching tour or a train ride.
- Consumables! We love being able to have big, tangible gifts that will be completely consumed - our gifts for several years were Nathan's apple pie moonshine (given in super practical and cute mason jars with cinnamon sticks), and my fudge creations. Even think beyond food to craft projects that are one and done with kids...that may end up being a gift then for someone else, like a jewelry-making kit (make it and give it!) or a Mad Libs book (a favorite for our girls).
- Practical themes - have someone who has wanted to make Kombucha? Or sourdough bread? Along with a bread pan, or a Kombucha kit...what can you give that people will really use?
- Add to a set vs. lots of random toys. Magnatiles, Legos, Playmobile, a book series...what is something you can get that adds to a set you get over time.
- Have a purely recycled celebration - let kids go "shopping" in their own bedroom and share their beloved toys and clothes with friends and family. Even adults - pass off some items you loved to share with others.
- Give donations instead - support a charity in the name of another, like the Elephant Sanctuary or Kiva.org.
But what about hurt feelings?
Go back to the podcast about toxic relationships - is your relationship deeper and stronger than a trinket?
The more you communicate on the front end, the more friends and family know what you really want. The people that really love to give, they want to have the receiver light up. When you don't communicate what you want/need, and they give you something you don't need, it's a lose-lose.
Don't prevent someone from giving when it's their love language. It's a gift to the giver to gratefully receive. The more we communicate clearly, they are able to really get those items we truly are excited and grateful for - it's our "splurge list" that we want/need but don't HAVE to grab it instantly.
And in your home, as you reduce things down, don't be sneaky about it. Don't create distrust and resentment when you throw things away behind someone's back. Be open about what you are doing, and why. Help your whole family to get on board with it vs. taking something precious to them and deeming it unimportant just because you don't see the significance. Even a five year old can process letting go and not needing to hold on to every single thing.
Your Weekly Challenge:
Start laying the groundwork now for the holidays and festivities you really want. Get creative with a new way to celebrate. Have a themed party where everyone's gift is a donation to a charity on behalf of someone. Or explore Kiva.org and support a small business. Maybe it's a food/consumables party - all homemade specialties.
The more we recognize those personality styles and those strengths and what triggers us, the more we can come back to how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.