Minimalism with children

We all have design and organization preferences. Within a household there needs to be respect for these preferences while maintaining an agreed upon “stuff level.”

Children add a lot to that stuff level. While they do not drive themselves to Target or Babies-R-Us (RIP), the stuff pours in from family, friends, and neighbors.

Marketing tells us early on that minimalism must die when children are born…because how will they live without the stuff??

I am here to tell you they can live without all the stuff, and even thrive.

The challenge is explaining this to children. In his book The Minimalist Home, Joshua Becker gives great advice for helping children simplify while respecting their space.

He suggests that most simplifying for toddlers and younger is parent-driven without child input. We used this strategy when our kids were young. I observed their play for a week or two, and then removed toys that were not used or toys that detracted from creative play (I.e. noisy toys).

Now that my children are 6 and 4 they are involved in the process most of the time.

We guide them through the process by asking questions like Any toys you don’t like anymore? Any toys you want to donate to other kids, or toys you have outgrown?

These questions help them reflect on their play and help them acknowledge they will grow and their interests will change.

We have these discussions every couple weeks and always find one or two items to donate or discard.

I also occasionally do a sweep of the room without the kids. The other day I got the kids occupied and completely reorganized their room, based on how they use the space.

We got new shelves from our neighbor. I used one for books and toy bins. The other two become the LEGO display shelves, one for each child.

The LEGO display towers. Less on the floor to step on…yay!
The new bookshelf! I was ready to buy one and grateful our neighbor gave us this free.

Then I tackled the closet. My daughter has spent a month making it her special daycare for her stuffed animals. But it was out of control and no longer fun to play in there. So I kept all the items in there and just reorganized. She loved the end result!

Before and after photos of the closet. Not perfect, but more space to play. I made sure to respect the space.

Children always think they need more or need to keep everything. Sometimes involving them in the decluttering is more stressful.

If instead you show them how an organized space feels, they will not notice the missing items. They will be too busy enjoying all their free space!

Happy Monday and happy decluttering 😊


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