When you’re working towards a minimalist lifestyle it can be tricky to figure out how to do it with kids. If it was just you in the house- you could get rid of everything but a few essentials. When you add kids to the mix you end up needing a lot more STUFF.
From the amount of clothes you need for a baby to the amount of diapers, a crib, any special seats, bouncers, swings, or high chairs. There are all sorts of things that come with the territory of having kids.
Side note: You can get by with however little amount of stuff you want to use. It all depends on parenting styles and your baby’s personality.
I have two kids: my first baby refused to be set down and would scream if you laid him down or set him in the bouncer. So I used front packs and backpacks so that I could stuff done. It worked like a charm because he liked to be carried. All. the. time.
My second baby loved sitting in the little baby bouncer where he could watch everything that was going on, and was perfectly content being set down. Turns out it was really nice to be able to set the baby down so I could help the toddler do things.
Two very different personalities. They both required something different.
What I’m trying to say, is that this is a stage of life you’re at and it’s okay to have extra items floating around your house if it helps you with your kids. Find the balance of the things you use and how much is too much.
When I have too many seats, swings, bumbos, etc hanging around the house it’s just too much. I’ve narrowed my items down to what my kids actually use and that’s fine by me!
Before I had kids I had all sorts of ideas how I would be as a parent. I was going to have a nice little swing for my kids to nap in while I did projects around the house. I wanted all sorts of the different gadgets that go along with having a baby. Ha! Kids tend to change those ideas for you. Most of those “gadgets” and baby accessories never get used. Go figure.
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How do you manage minimalism and kids?
1. Recognize that it’s a stage of life.
Since you’re raising little humans you tend to need different stuff for each stage of life they’re at. That’s the tricky part of being a minimalist with kids. Unless you’re a miracle worker, you’re probably going to need some of the stuff that goes along with kids. Such as kids clothes, diapers, toys, and books.
2. Use the box method.
I don’t know about you, but I’m big into the hand-me-downs. I don’t want to go out and buy brand new things for each stage my children phase into. A Bumbo Floor Seat is one of my favorite things for helping my babies learn to sit, plus they get to see what everybody is doing- but they won’t use it forever.
Box the things you will use over and over again when you are at certain stages for your kids!
Maybe you have something that is a little too old for them but you know it will be a big hit later on. We have a wooden train track set that my oldest now absolutely loves and is getting good at building. But when he was a baby- obviously it was a little too old for him. Now that he is in the toddler phase it will become one of those timeless toys for years to come.
I have two boxes of toys that aren’t available for the kids to play with every day. It’s the two boxes of train tracks. When the kids are ready to play with them, great! I’ll get them down and they can build and play trains. But I’m not in the business of picking up boxes of toys that have been dumped and not played with.
3. Narrow down the toys to things they actually play with.
Get some timeless and versatile toys. The toys that they can play with at several stages of life.
Think blocks. Somethings like these:Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Solid-Wood Building Blocks With Wooden Storage Tray (60 pcs)
Blocks can be used for so many different things and it forces your kids to be creative with their play.
I have something against toys with batteries. Maybe it’s just personal preference, buuuut, I feel like when toys are designed to ENTERTAIN than my kids become less and less creative. I want my kids to grow up being well-rounded individuals who can think for themselves and don’t have to rely on something else to keep them entertained.
As an added bonus: the fewer toys you have, the more your kids will play with them.
Especially with young kids, it is easy for them to get overwhelmed. It’s like a sensory overload, so when you have PILES of toys, and shelves and shelves of objects for them to play with, my guess is they’ll do what my kids did- they’ll dump them out but hardly play with them.
When I minimized our toys, my boys could go in the closet and grab something out of the toy shelf and play with it- for hours. It’s amazing.
(My boys are obsessed with tractors and trucks.)
If you want to test it for yourself, box up the majority of your toys and set them aside. See how your kids play with fewer options!
4. Find your favorite kitchen accessories.
I finally figured out that I don’t need fifteen crappy sippy cups. I just need a couple good ones that will last a long time and are easy to clean. (Beware of what sippy cups you use because some of them are regular mold factories!) The Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup are my favorite right now. We have two of them that way I can rotate them through the dishwasher. It’s worth finding something you’ll actually use rather than wasting valuable cupboard space on junk.
5. Create a kid capsule wardrobe.
This is my boys closet. I stash diapers and wipes on the shelf and I keep their clothes and my front packs/backpacks in the dresser. One drawer is dedicated to sweatshirts (We live in Oregon after all), one drawer jammies, one drawer front packs/backpacks, one drawer is socks, underwear, gloves, hats, etc, and then they each have a drawer for their pants/shirts/shorts.
Kids are notoriously hard on clothes. Or at least my kids are. They probably get it from me. I usually spill at least three different things on me by 9 in the morning. Anyways, that is why my kid capsule wardrobe includes “play clothes” and “nice clothes.”
I know I’ve said this before, but I don’t want my kids to be worried about their clothes when they’re playing. I want them to go outside and get dirty and get grass stains on those clothes because they’re having a good time. Needless to say, that means they’re fairly hard on clothes. 🙂 It’s worth it. I simply have a few sets of “nice” clothes set aside for church or anything like that.
Minimalism with kids isn’t too much different than it is with adults. Keep what you use, get rid of what you don’t.
Sometimes it can be frustrating with some of the stuff you use but are tired of. (I routinely get sick of diapers, but hey… 😉 )
Just remember it goes by so fast it’s more important to enjoy our kids than to be worrying about things.