I became a minimalist long before it was fashionable. IKEA hadn’t yet crossed the Atlantic and Madonna belted out tunes about the material world. I lived with an extreme hoarder. My mother kept everything- from cringe worthy art projects to illegible high school French notes, plastic disposable cups to magazines and newspapers. Minimalism became my form of rebellion. When I left home I stoically declared that anything I couldn’t fit in one bag, I couldn’t keep. I kept that stance for years.
When I began my own family, I vowed my children would receive not stuff, but the things money can’t buy, like quality time and experiences, hugs and kisses. Living a good life doesn’t necessarily mean being surrounded by opulence and luxury, but becoming a minimalist doesn’t mean you have to give up all of your possessions and live in a bare room either. Minimalism actually makes your life richer, albeit simpler.
“The secret to happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” -Socrates
Fewer toys mean more creativity in kids
Humans have incredible imaginations. We don’t need excessive external stimuli to bolster that imagination either. I’ve seen kids declare they are bored, even though they have rooms brimming with the coolest toys, while others are happy digging in the dirt with their hands, making pretend roads for their one toy car. The fewer toys a child has, the more apt they are to exercise their ingenuity.
Take a kid to the beach to see the extent of their creativity. With nothing but nature, a Hogwarts-worthy castle can emerge from the sand, ready to defend itself against the incoming tide. We actually do a disservice to our kids by dulling their ripe imaginations with video games that require little thought and toys that with a mere push of a button keep them amused with mindless lights and sounds. Imagination and ingenuity are two important skills that help kids to succeed in life.
Sharing helps kids practice interpersonal skills & develop empathy
Practicing minimalism means that you have to learn to share. This is a soft skill that everyone needs to learn from an early age. Siblings often have a hard time with this, but if there’s only one ball or one swimming mask, they have to learn to take turns or do without. Their empathy levels can spike along with way, and you’ll find that an older child may hand the toy to a younger one first, or your child may realize he didn’t want the toy as badly as his friend.
Sharing can help your child pick up on non-verbal clues from others, such as body language, eye contact, facial expressions & hand gestures. They can begin to notice when someone is getting antsy, upset or even bored. All from sharing toys. This skill, used by successful entrepreneurs, won’t be found in the classroom, it has to be learned.
Kids are less anxious and stressed in minimalist environments
That messy room is doing more damage to you and your kids than you think: Over stimulation causes stress and anxiety. Clutter distracts and makes you lose focus. Bottom line: it’s bad for your health, mentally and physically.
A study on Kindergartners showed that they performed better on tests when they were taught in a room with only bare walls as opposed to the children who were in a room with walls decorated with posters and other visual aids. The kids in the bare room were able to focus better and be distracted less than the children in the decorated room.
Many kids and parents tend to overfill their schedules with after school activities, but the pressure can be physically and emotionally detrimental, leading to headaches, stomachaches and even depression.
Becoming a minimalist will help you calm down- you can actually relax and not feel guilty when you don’t have a mess around that needs to be sorted or a practice that your child needs to attend. Give your kids a healthy boost in life and teach them to be calm and focused by decluttering your environment.
Minimalism teaches children to be conscious consumers and more aware of the reality of finances
The only way kids can learn finances is through us- the parents. If they see us splurging on a regular basis- guess what, they will eventually follow suit. If they see us stop and consider purchases first, questioning aloud if we need it or just want it, they are more apt to be weigh the pros and cons before making purchases themselves in the future.
If you tell them they can’t have something because the dog needs some heart worm pills, but explain if you save X amount of money a week, that by their birthday, such a purchase may be possible, you are teaching them the importance of delayed gratification and budgeting all in one!
Kids tend to think money grows on trees, but by instilling a minimalist approach to finances and involving them, they can learn important life skills that they won’t learn elsewhere.
Becoming minimalist is the best way to teach kids gratitude
Minimalism is the best way to truly teach your kids to be thankful for what they have. Someone who is provided with everything on demand doesn’t know how important each thing is if they are surrounded by a multitude of stuff. Your child will be more grateful for that one toy or video game at Christmas than if they had a pile of them.
Give thanks for all that you do have, because even if it’s not a lot, it may be even more than someone else dreams of having. There are many people in the world who don’t have clean water, something we tend to take for granted. According to the charity Water.org, there are 332 million people without access to clean water in Africa alone. Be grateful for what you have every everyday.
Kids develop a practical, better perspective on life
Minimalism is not just the act of cleaning out your house, it’s a whole perspective on life. Simplify your life. Borrow books from the library instead of buying them. Spend a night out watching the stars instead of the latest movie. Eat a picnic in a park instead of dining in a restaurant. Live the good life through special moments.
The memories you make with your children are what they will always remember, and even treasure, not the stuff you bought. What you do now will affect how they are in their future. Raise them to embrace simplicity and they will have a better perspective on life.
Adopting a minimalist lifestyle will help your children grow to appreciate the good life – a life defined by strong family bonds, gratitude, and love and experiences, a life where less is definitely more.
|||^||Psychology Today: Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies|
|||^||Association for Psychological Science: Visual Environment, Attention, Allocation, and Learning in Young Children:When Too Much of a Good Thing May Be Bad|
|||^||KidsHealth.org: Is Your Child Too Busy?|
|||^||water.org: The Water Crisis Leaves Million without Safe Water|