As a child, I had the type of closet that you opened at your own risk. Because when you opened that door, only God knew what barrage of toys, clothes, and “stuff” would come barrelling out. I didn’t know it then, but as a kid - I needed minimalism.
I always said, “I am just messy, period.” Like it was some kind of personality trait: Messy. Cluttered. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Oh so anxious.
As a kid 30 years ago, I needed minimalism. But today…for my kids? Minimalism is essential.
I grew up in the time before Amazon and one-click ordering. This was the time before snack-catchers existed for children to carry around snacks and mindlessly eat around the clock. The time before kids needed iPads hanging over their carseats to survive a trip. The time before you could get virtually anything on television at a moment’s notice.
The kids of today need minimalism more than ever.
Childhood of today is beyond messy and cluttered. It’s chaotic. Research shows us the way we are raising kids today causes stress and anxiety that overwhelms both children and parents alike. As parents, we have so much going on that we have resorted to “convenience parenting” to hold it all together. If your kids won’t sit down for a meal, there’s a device for that. If your kids won’t ride quietly in the car, there’s an app for that.
As parents, we just try to survive. We struggle to hold it all together. Because it’s consuming. It’s heavy.
Raising kids today is heavier than any parent can handle.
I know this because I have two young children. They inherited my eyes and my hair. And for a while there, they inherited my messy, overwhelmed traits. But no longer.
Because “overwhelmed” is not a life sentence. It’s a choice - and we have made intentional choices for our kids and my family.
We have chosen to trade chaos for calm.
So what’s the secret? Minimalism.
Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of all your stuff (although I have done some of that too - and it’s pretty amazing). It’s about focusing your family on what really matters in life.
In fact the definition of minimalism that I like the most is:
“the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”
In raising my kids as minimalists, I am doing just that - I am trading the status quo of modern childhood by choosing a specific value set for my children:
I Choose Gratitude
I am trading an abundance of holiday gifts for gratitude. Sure, my kids still get gifts, but they also need to voluntarily select the same number of older toys to donate to local charities.
I Choose Family
We keep extra-curricular activities to a valued few and aim to keep the nights they are done, the same so we have most nights at home as a family. I am a huge fan of underscheduling. There is nothing I love more than an evening or weekend with nothing planned. Because “nothing” is not nothing. “Nothing” means more time to intimately connect with family.
I Choose Health
We love cooking and baking and time in the kitchen and we love locally grown produce. Research shows that the eating habits we instil in our children from the earliest days makes a lasting impact on the years to come. We skip the packaged biscuits for homemade wholefood chocolate balls and our kids don’t eat all day long. This means they don’t carry snacks around the house or munch in their car seats. They sit down at the table and eat real food.
I Choose the Outdoors
I am trading screen time for outdoor play. Playing outdoors offers children ample opportunity to exercise, learn respect for the environment, and appreciate natural beauty. By dialling back the screen time I can create more opportunities for active play that challenges my children’s social and motor skills. Kids (and adults) need to get up and get outside.
But there is a caveat to this because screen time can be useful and even essential for our kids development - after all, their future will be run by tech. But when we do have screen time, I let them code rather than just play a game - in that, I am making a conscious choice.
I Choose Conscious Consumerism
I am trading Amazon’s one-click ordering for buying intentionally. We think before we buy. We choose to fill our home with things we love, things that are beautiful, and things that are necessary. Plastic toys from the most recent hit movie don’t make the cut. Instead we choose classic, sustainable toys that will last for years. Toys that can be used for open-ended play by children of all ages, genders, and interests. Children grow up too fast, let’s choose toys that will grow with them.
I Choose Calm
By choosing minimalism, I am trading chaos for calm. I am my children’s first teacher. I am my children’s biggest role model. It all starts with me. I am making choices for my children that will impact their childhood and entire life in the years to come.
What are you choosing for your family?