Minimalism is one of the best ways to teach your kids how to value what they have. At its core, minimalism is about intentionally promoting what we most value, and getting rid of distractions. Simply, it’s living only with the things we need. It also gives us the opportunity to teach our kids things like generosity, gratitude, sharing, and loving what we have.
Here are seven tips to teach the principles of minimalism to your children:
You Can Live with Less
Having more than enough has been our dream for generations. The reality is that with great wealth can come great wastefulness. Jen Hatmaker’s book ‘7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess’ is all about her family’s experience. After having come to the realization that they were living in too much excess, they decided to live on seven different items each month.
Wearing only seven different articles of clothing or eating seven foods each month may seem like a huge shift, but the idea is to see if you can live with less. Teach your children that less can be more.
Discourage Impulse Purchasing
Saying no early on will discourage your kids from impulse buying later. This means your kids will be less likely to spend $5,400 a year on unnecessary purchases later in life. You can start by getting your children involved in paring down toys. First take out every toy and put them all in one place. Then, purge the ones that have lost their value by donating or giving them away to someone you know who will love it as much as your children have. This tangible exercise will help show everybody what won’t be missed.
Teach Children to Take Care of the Things They Do Have
The goal is to love what we own, and to love something is to take care of it. Teaching your children to take care of their belongings will cut down on the ‘gimmes’, and help teach gratitude. There are many ways to encourage good care, such as changing batteries of toys or wiping them down. You’re teaching them the lasting value of the things they have, and that their belongings require their care.
Involve Children in Purging and Cleaning
Allie Casazza is an influential and minimalist writer and mother who purged the majority of the toys and clutter in her home after she just couldn’t stand the mess anymore. Now, the toys that her kids have all fit inside a bin. The purge also ended up building her children’s creativity, imagination, and pushed them towards physical activities outside. The result? Everybody’s happier. Of course, you don’t have to get rid of every toy, but a few family rules couldn’t hurt. For example, you could institute a policy that no new toys can come in unless an old one goes out.
Utilize the ‘5’ Rule
The ‘5’ rule is the idea that, on average, you have five things in each room of your house that you are not using. This rule pushes you to sell or donate these items, and give up the things that you don’t use or need. Make this a consistent practice every month by having the kids tackle their own bedrooms. This will teach everyone to reevaluate what they need, and to especially value the things that never lose their usefulness.
Prioritize Experiences, Not Things
Choosing experiences over things will teach your kids to value the present, cherish their memories, not focus on things. Instead of giving toys as gifts, consider taking them on a trip or enrolling them in a class for something they love. Ask relatives and grandparents to do the same.
Some objects are essential to having memorable experiences, though—like sports equipment or a musical instrument. So if you do give a physical gift, just be sure to center your child’s gratitude on the experiences that will result from it—not the thing itself. That way, you’ll be giving the gifts that really last, and you can even have them develop a skill while you do it.
Share Items to Reduce Clutter
Sharing items with friends will lead to less waste and reduce your own clutter at the same time. Start an online or offline community devoted to sharing and recycling used items for those in need to use. Involve and teach your own kids about the damage of wastefulness and the importance of sharing in the process.
Minimalism doesn’t mean that you throw everything you own away, it simply means your items have a purpose. As Marie Kondo, creator of the KonMari Method teaches, we should surround ourselves with items that spark joy in us, and getting rid of the things that don’t. It creates an atmosphere in our homes of comfort and warmth, where our children’s imaginations thrive, and they love the things they have.
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