Family Life: Is it possible to be a minimalist with kids?
I’m not sure I am the right person to be asking this question given the piles of toys and clothes my kids have. But I ask it mainly because of this. I have always known that less is more when it comes to life – even more important when you are setting up your nursery – but somehow it manages to get away from me more often than not.
I recently went through a major purge. With a decision in hand – no 3rd baby – I knew that all the old baby stuff had to go. But I was also at the same time getting very frustrated with playroom mess. So I purged. PURGED. And what I have found is that since I have taken away two thirds of the kids toys they are playing more with their stuff. Yep. They can find the stuff they actually like. And so here I am at 11pm, asking – is it possible to be a minimalist with kids?
I think the answer should be yes to less, yes to minimum and equally yes to quality. The more I read and come across Montessori principles the more I like what I hear. They are all about rotating, good quality, entertaining toys and activities, keeping things simple and easy – and no clutter. I think this all makes perfect sense, when you think about how little time we all have, how much smaller our abodes are becoming and how much waste we are producing.
So here are some thoughts:
Create a space that plays to your childs interest.
Whether that just their bedroom or multiple spaces. Plan what each room needs to do. When I was thinking about my kids playroom, I made a plan – my kids love reading, playing vets, the kitchen, doll babies, music / dancing, dress ups, drawing and blocks. So for each of those I worked out a few different toys that would bring that area to life. In the vet area they have a ZOO Hospital sign up, posters of animals (from Melbourne Zoo Magazine), a doctors kit and a table on which they can operate / check their patients.
Edit like Marie Kondo.
I like to make a list of what needs to get done so that I have a plan and stick to it. Think about going to the supermarket without a shopping list – you end up with a bunch of stuff that you don’t need (tim tams). Same principle works for the edit. I like the spark joy concept but I am more of a realist – if I they use it I keep it.
Keep some for now, some for later – rotate to keep them interested.
Create a Happy Box.
My Happy Box gets rid of stuff I am not using but don’t know if I’ll need – both adult and kid stuff. It gets rid of the excess without throwing it out. It’s just one box and will get cleaned out when I don’t have any more space in it. And if I haven’t needed what’s in it – it gone.
Get the right storage for what you need.
Sometimes simple, clear storage boxes are just perfect for tucking things away. They keep things sealed and safe and easy to see.
Keep toys organised and visible.
Hiding it away doesn’t make it cleaner – keeping less out and organised, is easier for kids to see, access and to put away. I have a few baskets and bags for the play areas, which mainly home the bigger toys. The smaller toys and sets are in open shelving so they can see them and access them.
Invest in the right toys.
Invest in the right toys/accessories/things, good quality, that they will love.
Keep it clean and sorted. Make sure that the kids clean up after themselves to the allocated spots. Get them involved in the set up so they can be part of the decision-making process of how to set it up, so it’s easy for them to keep clean.
Share things with your friends.
Share with your friends, instead of keeping something stored. If you are not done with babies just yet, your friends may benefit from the use of the bottle warmer, breast pump, cot, bassinet etc… while you don’t need it.
Chuck it, donate it, sell it or treasure it.
When I say chuck it, I mean recycle if possible. I recently started making regularly trips to the tip rather than chucking. Because they recycle everything from cardboard to clothes, toys, dvds, vhs (my ally mcbeal collection has gone to a better place). Donate the things that can be reused / resold. And if you really love it and want to keep it, then store it properly, put it away where you can find it when you need it. Finally, sell it if you think that it can still get a few bucks. Put the money in your savings account so it can give back to you!
Invest in experiences
I recently found this great travel website called Riparide which is all about experiences. And that is so appealing to me – what will live with my kids is the time they spend with us, exploring, on adventures, in new and interesting places. So my plan is to do more of this and spend the time on adventures rather than cleaning play spaces.
So there you have it. The above has basically been the last few months for me of sorting, cleaning, giving, chucking. Stop. Repeat. I have not been buying nearly as often as I was and I have replaced a lot of crap toys with a couple of really good ones. I don’t know that I will ever be a minimalist but maybe I can be a bit less full of stuff and maybe a bit fuller with experiences.