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So, your child’s bedroom is full of toys, clothes and clutter. It’s so bad they can’t even play in there! You want to declutter but aren’t sure how to get started. Today I am sharing how we began the journey to minimalism with kids.
A Minimalist Motherhood
We have been experimenting with simple living and minimalism for the past three years. I have found that it has helped to greatly reduce stress and anxiety.
Simplifying was all part of my plan to be a happy and healthy mom.
I didn’t know it at the time, but having my house completely over-run by toys, clothes and other random items was a large part of my stress and anxiety.
Once I started simplifying, decluttering and organizing I became a much more calm and relaxed person.
I could finally spend time with my family and relax without being distracted and feeling like I needed to get up and clean.
Why do kids need minimalism?
Have you ever taken your child to Chuck E. Cheese?
If so, I am guessing that you noticed that initially your kiddo was having a great time. But, you probably also noticed that after a while their mood began to change.
by the time you decide to leave they are in full-blown tantrum or meltdown mode. The lights, the noise the crowds all just became too much.
They became overstimulated.
The same thing happens at home when their environment is cluttered and they are overwhelmed by choice.
Their little brains have trouble focusing on one thing at a time and they end up being easily distracted.
This could result in:
- Irritability, frustration and overwhelm
- Difficultly staying focused or paying attention
- Lack of interest in playing
Want your kids to play in their room?
Independent play is an important part of a child’s development. When children are given the opportunity to play independently they gain important skills:
- Creativity and Imagination
- Self Regulation
However, if there bedroom is full of junk and clutter they will most likely be overwhelmed and frustrated.
This will prevent them from quietly playing in their room for hours (like you have been dreaming about).
When you go in to check on them, you will become stressed and anxious over the mess and visual clutter that is everywhere.
What you need are simple tips to declutter their bedroom so:
- They have a safe and calm place to play independently
- You aren’t afraid to become permanently disabled from stepping on a Lego everytime you enter
Follow the five steps below to discover that minimalism with kids is possible.
And actually pretty darn easy!
How to be a Minimalist with Kids
The rules for minimalism with kids are not the same as the traditional steps for simplifying.
Because kids freak out when you try to get rid of their stuff!
If you have young children (under 1) you are probably in the clear. However, once they start being able to walk and talk you need to change your plan.
Let’s get started!
1) The first overhaul needs to be done WITHOUT them
When I first dabbled in simplifying I began to do some research online. A lot of the info I saw said to “include children in the process”.
Obviously, these people don’t actually have children in their homes.
I don’t know about you, but my kids start to freak out if I start mentioning getting rid of their stuff.
Like, they get completely irrational – wanting to save broken crayons and pieces of paper that they suddenly “need”.
I highly recommend that the first round of purging be done without them present.
You basically have two options to make this happen
- Come up with a plan so they are are not at home during your declutter session
- Find an activity to keep them occupied for as long as possible
Should you include kids in the decluttering process?
You won’t need the kiddos to be gone when you do maintenance decluttering in the future.
But the first time is different.
This is when a lot of the junk will be removed.
If they are there, everything will take longer and be more difficult.
Once this has become a way of life it will be easier to include them, but for now – send them to grandma’s.
Grandma doesn’t live nearby? Here are some other possibilities:
- Find a babysitter to take them to the movies, bowling or mini-golf
- Ask a mom friend to watch them for a few hours, with the promise that you will return the favor
- Have your spouse take them to the park, a museum or a bike ride
2) Out with the old…broken…ignored…and unnecessary
Ok, the kids are out of the house and we are going to start with the easy part.
Right now we are just going to FOCUS ON GETTING RID OF THE JUNK.
For this step you are going to need some tools
- Garbage bags
For garbage…dried up markers without lids, broken toys, undies that are too small
- Plastic storage bins
For items that you will get rid of.
Personally, I tend to donate or consign my items so I came up with this little trick that I am about to share with you.
As I am decluttering I keep 2 storage bins in the room with me:
- 1 bin for items to be donated
- 1 bin for items to be sold (yardsale, ebay, consignement shop etc)
Once they are full I put them directly into the trunk of my car.
Don’t be tempted to put them into the closet, the hallway or the garage. They will just sit there and they will still be cluttering your home.
Plus-if your kids find them you are in BIG TROUBLE!
You will be AMAZED at how quickly you become a fan of minimalism with kids after this step!
3) In with the new…rules for minimalism with kids
In order to be successful with this new way of life you still need to accomplish two goals:
- Reduce the number of toys they have
- Have guidelines in place for toys you allow to come in the future
Here are the 2 strategies we use in our home to protect all the hard work (especially during holidays and birthdays)
Toy Rotation is key for kids who want to keep ALL of their toys.
You simply divide their toys into multiple bins and only allow 1 bin to be in their room at a time.
The other bins are stored in the garage, in a closet or under the bed.
The absolute best part of toy rotation is that your kids will actually forget about the toys that are stored away.
When a few weeks or a month go by and they haven’t asked to play with them it’s time to donate or consign the toys in that bin!
Voila’! A simple and painless what to be a minimalist with kids!
The 4 Things Rule
This idea is simple and has worked really well to help us limit the clutter that accumulates around birthdays and holidays.
The rule is that each child receives one gift for each category.
We also share this rule with grandparents and other family members who tend to go a bit overboard in the gift department.
Following this rule for gift giving helps you to shop with purpose instead of just purchasing random junk.
For family and friends create an Amazon Wish List and email it to them to prevent items from coming in that aren’t needed, wanted, or appropriate for your kids.
Your extended family will really enjoy knowing exactly what to get your child for a gift. Just be sure to include a variety of price points on the wish list
4) Shop with Intent and Purpose
How many times have you gone on a quick trip to Target with your kids and ended up with a cart full of items you didn’t plan on purchasing?
We have ALL been there.
Any shopping trip with children is a challenge. They will always see, want and “need” something from the store.
In an effort to make them happy or shop in peace and quiet, we give in and the clutter starts to creep back in.
When you go shopping, make a list. It’s easy to erase all of your efforts at minimalism by making mindless purchases.
I personally do most of my shopping on Amazon.
The cost of the Prime Membership easily pays for itself. You see, when I add up all the money I have saved by not driving around, making mindless purchases, and buying meals while out shopping; it’s a deal!
Not to mention, being able to shop in bed in my pajamas, is so much more enjoyable than loading in and out of carseats and driving all over town.
5) Teach your child the joy of giving
Letting go of our stuff is really hard, even for adults.
The earlier you teach your child about donation and allow them to experience the emotions of letting go the easier it will be for them in the long run.
Start by reading a book like, The Spiffiest Giant in Town to teach your child how they can help by giving to others.
Follow up by asking them to choose a few toys that they are willing to give to children who don’t have toys to play with.
Over time, they will be become selective and be able to prioritize their wants and needs – a skill that will serve them for their entire life.
There you have it mama! The REAL 5 Steps to Minimalism with Kids.
If you are looking for even more info you can check out this book by Joshua Becker. It has almost perfect reviews on Amazon!
- Clutter Free Home: Minimalist Tips that will make a Huge Difference
- 10 Busy Moms Share their best tips to Declutter with Kids
- 18 Tips to Clean, Organize and Declutter so you can Actually Enjoy your Home
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