Minimalism is a significant step to a cleaner and brighter world, but it’s also a great way to clean up your own life and feel lighter and brighter. Embracing a minimalist lifestyle as a family is an excellent way to encourage a new set of values for your kids, and adopt a more profound and more fruitful relationship with a partner. But it takes commitment, and not everyone is on board.
Sticking to your newfound low-waste lifestyle is a lot easier when you’ve got the support of your family. So how do you get your family to warm up to owning less, without shaming or force? These tips will help you put your family first on your hunt for a simpler, clutter-free lifestyle.
Stick To Your Own Stuff
To begin your minimalist journey, you’re going to want to make significant changes right from the start. Getting rid of things you don’t use or don’t need is a cleansing experience that can help you feel lighter, and help start your new lifestyle off on the right foot. Resist the urge to do a clean sweep. Instead, focus on your own stuff first. Make sure your family knows about your newfound commitment, but don’t pressure anyone. Empty out your own junk, and make it a positive experience for yourself. The more you live what you believe, the more opportunities you have to talk it over with the family.
Talk About Why You Want To Simplify
Having the conversation about why you want to simplify doesn’t have to be a one-time thing. And there are ways to talk to the kids about why you’re interested in getting rid of your junk. Get the family involved in charity donations, and find other ways to adapt to your new lifestyle.
For example, if going green is part of your reason for becoming a minimalist, find different ways to introduce your family to a greener lifestyle. Plant a vegetable garden. Teach the kids how to compost and recycle. Talk to your partner about other ways to cut down on CO2 emissions, like switching to one car and taking shorter showers.
Be Compassionate and Take It Slow
It’s hard to change your perspective, especially in our very consumption-driven world. Be compassionate if some members of the family are struggling with these new ideas. Take it slow. Make it a family priority that can change over time. Talk to the kids and partners about getting rid of or donating things they don’t use. Empty out your junk drawers of all the stuff you’re sure you’re going to be able to fix later.
Look for ways to make it less painful to let go of things. Garage sales are a great way to make money for a vacation or for your savings. Don’t push your family into minimalism. Instead, start slow with the easy stuff. Once they see your commitment, and all the positives of having more time and money to spend, they’ll follow along.
Focus on The Positives
Minimalism has plenty of benefits. Focusing on the positives and the great lessons it can teach us, rather than overthinking about throwing away our stuff or not buying expensive gifts, can help your family learn what they need to know to welcome minimalism. It comes with plenty of perks that go beyond having more money and time to spend. It’s a great start, but you’ll also find that it’s just the beginning.
Being minimalist means teaching kids great values like the idea that you don’t need to buy things to be happy. They will learn better to live within their means, to give to others, and even to understand they don’t have to live the way everyone else does. Embracing these ideas is good for everyone, and it means that there’s a better reason than merely decluttering. Another great effect of minimalism is that it increases the value of the things you DO decide to keep. When you buy, you will focus on high-quality, well-designed products that will last you a lifetime. It will often mean you invest your money wisely in the absolute best there is, and the joy of using great things will be absolutely worth it. That makes it more likely your new commitment to minimalism will stick. And the longer it lasts, the more likely your family will get on board.
Get Kids Involved
Speaking of minimalism being good for the kids, giving back, going green, and regular decluttering don’t have to be chores that the kids will come to resent. Find family projects that will help the kids get used to the new minimalist attitudes you want to foster in your home.
Plant a family garden, or take place in community gardening and other community giving projects. If the kids are having a hard time getting rid of things, try some upcycle craft projects for favorite clothes, and let them take an active part in donating toys and other items. Spend the extra time and money you have thanks to spending less and make time for family. Take them on more trips, and embrace new experiences over objects and toys. Once they learn how much more fun it is to create new memories, they’ll have an easier time getting rid of old things!
Plan For Gift-Giving
Gift-giving can be difficult in a minimalist family. You want to put your values first, but you don’t want to reject your family, or their desire to show affection and generosity. Instead, have a list of gifts you’re okay with the kids receiving. Or at the very least, a limit on the kinds of things you don’t want. If they can, your family and friends should focus on experiences as gifts, or things the family needs. Instead of big birthday bashes, go for a few friends, and an amusement park or movie date.
During Christmas, make time to help the kids create a wishlist full of things that really matter, so you can pass it along to your generous family and friends. Remember, in all cases, to focus on what minimalism gives to your family, rather than on what it keeps from you.
It’s All In How You Frame It
Finally, to keep things positive, make time to talk to your family about what really matters to them. You’ve had a chance to explore minimalism yourself. You’ve taken it upon yourself to show your family why it matters to them. Now, make them feel heard. If the family are big into baseball, for example, remind them that hoarding memorabilia is a lot less fun than going to games and getting real autographs with their heroes, which you’ll have more money to do, if you’re saving it by not spending on things you don’t need. If your family are on the artistic side, or you’ve always wanted to travel with the kids while they’re still young, all these things get closer when you don’t have to worry about a house full of things tying you down. Framing minimalism as the freedom to spend your energy on the things that truly matter in your life.
Embracing a minimalist lifestyle means more space for what matters in life, and more time and energy spent on the things you truly love. It is a bit of a commitment, and it can mean making a lot of significant changes in your life, and the lives of your family. It can be hard to stay committed to a clutter-free lifestyle if your family isn’t on board, especially with little ones in the house. But the last thing you want to do is nag your family into seeing it your way.
Building a minimalist lifestyle shouldn’t be about shaming or rules. Instead, you should focus on the positives and embrace changes as a family. Living a simple lifestyle that puts experiences and people before things, comes with a lot of benefits. But to keep yourself and your family on track, focus on what minimalism gives, instead of what it takes away.
Ken Hyden, doting dad, charming introvert and fan of all things kim-chi. He co-founded the popular BestSeekers.com, a feeble excuse for his outrageous shopping habits. He loves racing his daughter in his spare time. One day, he will win.