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Whenever I go to sit down and write about minimalism and raising kids, I’m quickly taken back to my own childhood. We did not have a lot but we didn’t KNOW we didn’t have a lot. Things were much simpler then. Mom stayed home with us and dad went to work. We got toys and gifts but only on our birthdays and Christmas and even then it was more what we needed versus what we wanted. And that is what brings me to today’s post. There are so many things available to kids today compared to what was available even 20 to 30 years ago. Then when you compare it to being a child growing up in the 60’s, it’s mind blowing. But do kids really need to have everything? Personally I think the minimalist lifestyle and parenting is a match made in heaven.
When you live a minimalist lifestyle, you view things differently than most people but that might not necessarily extend to raising your children. If you’d like to give it a test run with your family, we recommend this post: 10 for 10 Minimalist Living Challenge: Healthy Family Lifestyle
As parents we want to see our children happy and truth be told, we really don’t like to deprive them of anything. When you are feeling that way, that is exactly when you should pull your minimalist tendencies out and use them to guide you and your family. If you
think that living minimally means you are living in poverty, you could not be more wrong and that is a quick way to end up going down the wrong path. As a parent, it is not in us to want to deprive our children of anything so it’s important to really come to terms with what living a minimalist lifestyle means to YOU. We live in an abundant world. It is up to us how we choose to live in this world.
For me, living minimally means to use only what I need to use. This allows me financial freedom which in turn allows me to support the charities I support. In the beginning, this was a tough one for me to grasp also – I’ll be honest. When I first learned of minimalism I thought it was for the folks that wanted to live off the land with no or little income or that wanted to survive with less than 50 items. These scenarios didn’t fit with my personal view. Minimalism is different for everyone. Sure there are times when I am tempted to get something new just for fun but when I do decide to do that I have an agreement with myself that something will be leaving. If I decide to get a new purse, one that I have will be donated. It keep things balanced to my comfort level.
When it comes to our kids, however, we feel guilty if we don’t give them everything they ask for but does a child really need everything that flashes in front of their eyes? Stop and think about this for a moment. How many Barbie dolls does a little girl really need? How many video games does a boy need? How many game systems does any child need?
Yes I know that certain games can only be played on certain systems. But seriously take a step back and think about this. Does your child really need 4 gaming systems? Purchase the one they will use the most and discuss with them why they only need one and that they can play the other systems at a friend or family’s house. To make that conversation easier, LOOK at how much time children are spending alone or playing against people you don’t personally know online. If that doesn’t scare you, I’m not sure what will.
Back to the 60’s and 70’s, my parents would not have allowed us to play at all until our homework was done. Then when it was done, we went outside and played – and yes this is fact – until the street lights came on. In the house we went for a bath and possibly an hour or so of TV. That was our day. I almost feel that kids today are being deprived of being a child because many kids don’t know the freedom of running outside and playing with all the kids in the neighborhood. How about the pure joy of using chalk to draw on the sidewalks?
Yes things are very different than when I grew up with mom at home while dad went to work. Many families have both parents working to pay the bills but if you were able to cut back on what you believe your kids “need” could you make lifestyle changes that would allow you to spend more time with your kids enjoying life? Many times we are so busy chasing the next dollar that we really don’t realize where we are spending our money. We just go work harder and harder and the hamster wheel continues to turn and turn. And again, I am guilty of this. I hit the corporate world in the 80’s and yes there very much was a glass ceiling. It was the beginning of a time when women were finally being placed into management and I worked hard to get there. I felt so guilty leaving my kids to go to work that many times I “made” it up to them by buying them things. Who did it benefit – them or me?
This week, take a moment and write down everything that you purchase without judgement. Just write it down. At the end of the week, review all your purchases and notate what was purchased for your kids along with if it was purchased for an occasion such as a birthday. The scary thing you might find? Many times we purchase items without even thinking about it and our kids play with it for 5 minutes then it’s tossed in the pile with everything else they don’t play with.
Hopefully this little exercise will help you get on track with your spending while helping you to teach valuable lessons to your kids about minimalism. Enjoy.
For tips on how to begin your decluttering journey, you can Start Here, or snag a copy of the 30 Day Challenge (our Minimalism and Decluttering eBook).