Raising Minimalist Children in a Modern World
Our modern world can be overwhelming. We're constantly being told that we need more. We need more gadgets to be more productive. We need to be more productive to make more money. We need more money to buy a bigger TV. Commercials interrupt our television shows telling our children they need toys, video games, and junk food to be happy and accepted by their peers. We work longer hours to give our children everything they want. We buy fast food because we don't have time to cook. We're too busy. Our houses are filled with clutter. There are too many distractions, and too much debt.
Minimalism is a philosophy of “less is more.” It's gaining popularity with families who are frustrated with consumerism and want to escape our culture of excess. Minimalists strive get rid of all non-essentials to focus on the things that give life meaning and joy. Instilling a minimalist philosophy can bring calm and balance to your family. It can lead to a healthier and more enjoyable lifestyle. Try slowly incorporating minimalist practices into your life to lead a simpler, happier existence.
Make Space. We as a culture have a habit of collecting too much stuff and living in clutter. Teach your kids that they don't need stuff to be happy. Donate or sell anything your family doesn't use regularly. If this is too radical, have everyone box up one thing they don't need at the end of each day or week. If your children aren't ready, put half of their toys in boxes and rotate which ones are out for playtime each week.
Make Time. Every day, prioritize a few things you must do and don't stress about the rest. Don't schedule too much for yourself or your family. Too many activities can be stressful for children and parents. Let your children participate in the activities they enjoy, and don't force them into extraneous activities. Leave enough unscheduled time in each day for your family to enjoy the outdoors, make a healthy meal, read books, play, or just relax.
Limit Media.While completely banning television is unimaginable for most families, we could all do with less of it. Limit your family's television time. Don't allow TVs in bedrooms. DVR shows your family enjoys and fast forward through the commercials to save time and avoid unnecessary want.
Buy Less. Invest in quality toys made from durable materials instead of a large quantity of toys. Avoid toys that promote scripted play – the dolls and action figures from the latest movie encourage children to do little more than re-enact the movie. Buy blocks, art supplies, musical instruments, and non-specific dolls that allow them to create and use their imagination. Give older children an allowance so they can learn the value of money. Minimalist children appreciate and value what they have and don't grow to expect more and more.
Value Experiences. Spend the time and money you save on shared experiences. Bake together on a weeknight. Go to museums, zoos, and parks. Take a family vacation. If your children complain that they don't have the toys or games their friends have, explain that they get to do these fun activities instead.
Lead by Example. You can't force minimalism on your children, but you can show them why it's important to you. Set an example that they can follow when they're ready. Buy less for yourself. Commit to fewer unnecessary activities. Focus on what's important, have patience, and be happy in the moment.