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Minimalism with Kids; 5 Practical Steps to Make it Easy

So, your child’s bedroom is full of toys, clothes and clutter. You’re ready to simplify your home and start living with less, but is that even possible with kids? Today I am sharing how you can achieve minimalism with kids.

How to be a Minimalist with Kids

We have been experimenting with simple living and minimalism for the past three years.

I didn’t know when I began, 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.

If that sounds like something you need in your life then what you need are the five steps below to discover that minimalism with kids is possible.

And actually pretty darn easy!

Practical Steps to Minimalism with Kids

Here’s the deal: Kids need stuff.

Plain and simple and anyone who tells you differently is not being completely honest.

Plus, there are a lot of items that make life easier….and I want those items. I am not about struggling through motherhood, just for the sake of “living with less”.

That being said, the majority of us have been convinced that we need ALL.THE.THINGS. and this isn’t true either.

The reality is that it’s possible to raise kids in a minimalist environment if you follow these simple steps.

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Minimalism with kids: family experiences over things. Family building blocks together.

1) Focus On Experiences Over Things

This is like the minimalist manifesto…..and it works!

Our culture (and marketing corporations) do such a good job of convincing us that the only thing kids want is stuff.

You know what kids really want? Attention from their parents!

Sure, they get excited when they open their gifts at Christmas or on their birthdays, but soon those toys are broken, forgotten or lost.

However, the memories that are created from a family vacation, trip to the movies or an overnight camp out in the backyard last forever.

So, if you’re thinking of giving the minimalist lifestyle a try, start by replacing most gifts with family activities or adventures.

2) Start with Toy Rotation

So, you’re next question is probably going to be “Do minimalists have toys?”

Yes! They just have fewer of them and they are chosen with intention and open-ended play in mind.

If you are a regular family, your children probably already have WAY more toys than they need, but as tempting as it is to give them all away….don’t! (unless they are babies and won’t notice) Instead, you will want to do a through toy decluttering session and then set up a toy-rotation system.

This is the best way to gently transition your kids to a minimalist lifestyle while you greatly reduce the amount of toy clutter around the house.

RELATED POST: 10 Important Reasons Why you Need to Start a Toy Rotation

3) Create Kids Capsule Wardrobes

Do your kids always have clothes all over their rooms? Are you tired of always picking up their clothes and watching them meltdown when trying to decide what to wear?

Then you need to create a kids capsule wardrobe.

A capsule wardrobe is just a fancy way of saying a small set of clothes that are easy to mix and match. They make getting dressed easy for kids because everything goes together and it allows you to have less laundry to do and fewer clothes to fold and put away.

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 next thing you know your house is full of stuff you don’t really need.

From now on, when you go shopping, make a list. It’s easy to erase all of your efforts at minimalism by making mindless purchases.

I have found that shopping online has helped me to avoid impulse purchases. I can go online and buy precisely what I need without the kids seeing anything they want.

5) Teach Them About Wants Vs. Needs

Letting go of our stuff is really hard, even for adults, but when your kids are able to realize that they don’t really NEED most of the things they have you are setting them up to be wise consumers for a lifetime.

Start by reading a book like this.

Follow up by asking them to choose a few toys or other items that they are willing to give to children who don’t have as much.

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!

Please share on Pinterest!

Image of organized toy cars with text overlay: how to master minimalism with kids

31 Comments

    1. That is always a good strategy…unfortunately for me there are few times that happens. We are always home at the same time so my attempts at “minimalism with kids” requires a bit more planning 😉 Either way the end result is less stuff!

  1. Excellent tips! Step 4 is so crucial, I feel as though Amazon has also saved us a ton of money and given us quality time back. I notice when we spend less and have less, we feel better – same for our kids!

    1. I totally agree! Decluttering with kids won’t be easy if you just keep buying more toys. My kids have toys, they are just carefully curated to help support our minimal-ish lifestyle. And you are right…we all feel better with less stuff around us all the time.

  2. Great tips! I could never do the organizing without my kids though, however over the years I’m training then to let go and sort regularly! My seven year old is finally getting it and enjoying sorting now! I’ve never heard of the 4 gifts idea! That’s wonderful, so unique. Thanks for the tips! We just decided we’re moving to help out our family so the decluttering first will be very helpful!

    1. Yes! Training them with the skills to do it on their own is definitely important. It just didn’t work well for us when we were starting out because it was new and we were in need of some serious purging. Now they help all the time with “maintenance decluttering”.

  3. Love this! Minimial-ish is how I want to live my life!! I struggle most with my kids stuffed animal collection – one way I have gotten them to pitch in, is to ask them which ones they want to keep rather than which ones they want to get rid of. It helps them participate without feeling like I’m taking things away from them.

    1. That is a great tip! Kinda like the strategy of telling kids what they can do “please talk quietly” instead of what they can’t “no yelling”. Focusing on the positive always helps to get everyone on board…especially when it comes to decluttering toys!

  4. I totally agree with your point about getting the kids out of the house for the initial stage. Most of my kids’ things don’t get played with and every time I “purge” they never even notice! Lol
    I usually will remove them and store them in a big box in storage or the garage for a little bit. Just in case I did remove something of sentimental value… I can just go pull it out! So far, that’s never happened! ?

  5. Great tips for decluttering when you have kids. I always found that the more I decluttered when my kids were little, the better their behavior became.

    1. Don’t those easy steps make a huge difference? A lot of people think that decluttering toys and exploring minimalism with kids means that the kiddos are deprived, but I have found the opposite is true. They play more because they really enjoy the toys they have and they have a happier mom who isn’t cranky from constantly picking up toys!

  6. I LOVE this!!! We just recently did a major purge of our entire house. The process started in our son’s closet and room. He is older, 12, and he was included in the whole process. Once we explained our vision and reason he was on board and did an amazing job cleaning out his space. And now HE even says he loves the more minimalist effect in his room. ?

    1. I am a big believer that decluttering and minimizing is easiest to start in the kids rooms. You get the most bang for you buck. They typically have a lot of junk (LOL). They also grow so fast so they aren’t storing their skinny jeans for when they finally lose 10 lbs. 😉 I haven’t met a child yet who doesn’t prefer a more organized, open and simplified environment. A minimalist home with children is possible and practical.

  7. Great tips! I think going through at least once WITHOUT the kids sounds like a good way of doing things. haha As for gifting to kids, I tend to do some sort of DIY project so they can make it and then get rid of the excess or I do books because those grow with them.

    -Lauren

    1. Yes! I always hear the question, “Should we include kids in the decluttering process” Many are surprised that I recommend they be gone in the beginning. Obviously if you have an older child (12 and up) they should be involved the entire time. But even if they are old enough to help (6 and up) it’s just easier to get all the junk and garbage out and then have them assist with the items that matter to them (clothes, toys etc). Good luck on becoming a minimalist family!

  8. Yes! I have 4 kids and a toy rotation is key especially since we live in a small home. And yes! Do the decluttering without the kids (or hubby) around otherwise everything is their favorite or they might need it one day haha

    1. LOL! Yes – kids (and husbands) will suddenly “need” something they forgot they even had when you start decluttering. That is why I always recommend the first purge should be done without them. Once the junk is out of the way then they can come back in and be a part of the process, but if you allow them to be included the entire time it will take forever and you will end up keeping items that should be tossed or donated.

  9. I agree that in order to overhaul my son’ room, he cannot be present! that’s when he discovers those toys that have been there for ages and THEN decides to play with them!

    1. Right! Minimalism with kids is possible. It just requires some pre-planning and strategic babysitting requests 😉 There are others who disagree with me, but I am practical and in my experience if you involve the kids in the decluttering process in the beginning they just become little hoarders. LOL!

    1. That is what I love about helping other moms. Part of the struggle of getting started is not knowing all the tricks and tips. I am happy to share what I have learned along the way as my family has explored minimalism and what works best for our family.

  10. I love the idea about you rotation. And I definitely agree that they need to be out of the house before you start. I need to use these tips at my house. We are being overrun by toys! Thanks for the info.

    1. So glad you found these tips helpful! I love hearing from moms who are in the same place I was a few years ago. I honestly thought that motherhood was just a perpetual hamster wheel of cleaning, picking up and being frustrated and overwhelmed by the constant mess. I am so happy to share these simple tips to be clutter free with kids and finally stop the insanity!

    1. Isn’t it great? When I first heard of “toy rotation” I knew that it was a nugget of pure genious. Of course we don’t need to have ALL our kid’s toys out ALL of the time. It is the best way to keep them engaged and happy without all of the mess and clutter.

  11. Thanks for the tips! De-cluttering has slowly been creeping up to the top of my to-do list. These toys are out of control! I totally agree that once the toys are out of sight they often forget about them! I will say it’s hard not to be sentimental about certain items if they were given by grandparents, etc.

  12. I feel stressed and anxious over the mess and visual clutter that is everywhere in my house. Children don’t wanna help to either pick up their toys or give them for charity( I’ll try these tips and hope they will be helpful.

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