Being a minimalist? Forcing minimalism on our family? - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-28-2008, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Can we talk more about living simply - being a minimalist yourself, and how that relates to what you want your family/children to do?

I personally feel that my dh and I are the "leaders" in our household, and also have some authority (sp?) to dictate what our children should do. Yet I still feel horrible guilt sometimes for wanting them to get rid of stuff so *I* can fulfill my dream of living simply and minimally.

Is there a way to get over that?

Do you "force" your kids to live a certain way or do you let them make their own decisions? If you are trying to be minimalistic to meet your own needs and/or those of the planet, how do you deal with the kids stuff especially when they don't want to live like you do? (My children willingly give up some things, and I force others, but we still have WAY too much stuff for my tastes.) It's such an uphill battle between people wanting to give my children gifts and them simply being people that *want* stuff because we are walking through a store and things are pretty and tempting!

It's hard having a real dream (living minimally, having a certain look and feel to my home) but feeling huge guilt in forcing that dream on others!

I'd especially love to hear from parents of larger families (because that selfishly helps me! LOL) but of course all types of families are encouraged to post! : I like hearing all sides.

Amy
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Old 06-28-2008, 12:22 PM
 
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I guess I try to consider how hard it is for me (with my years of life-skills and coping tools) to deal with *more* when I really want *less.* And try to translate that into how well a kid who wants *more* can deal with my *less.* It seems backwards to me to expect the kids to deal better than I can, you know?

But, we work to strike a balance where we are considering and helping each other.

Organizing their *more* really helps me feel like it's *less.* You know? And it makes it easier to clean up--which goes a long way to feeling like there isn't stuff everywhere.

Also, having certain very tidy spaces I can go to and just breathe and clear my head is wonderful. My living and dining rooms tend to stay fairly uncluttered and clean. So just walking in there is a soothing balm. The den, on the other hand, can get fairly cluttered very fast. But, even spending a few minutes at the end of a play session or at the end of the day gives me a sense of calm as the toys are in their rightful bins and the coffee table is clear.

My kids are really generous when it comes to decluttering their toys and it only gets better as they aren't forced to do it. I think that forcing my kids (or doing it against their wishes or knowledge) would be a sure-fire way to make them less likely to move toward *less.*
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Old 06-28-2008, 02:43 PM
 
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monkey's mom, I really like what you wrote.

amyable, I wonder if it might be helpful to delve a bit into why you want to be a minimalist? That might help you to navigate how to deal with this issue with your kids. Of course you want to live in harmony with your values and protect the planet. But some aspects of minimalism go beyond that. One thing that I would beware of is that even minimalism can be a status/ego/identity thing...Not saying this is the case for you, but I've seen examples where it seems that parents really want to maintain/project a certain image and it ends up being very controlling of the kids. Perhaps you can have certain physical spaces where your kids have more control (with your help of with organizing of course)?

Certain kids' personalities lend themselves better to minimalism than others. In the Myers Briggs personality scale, intuitives are more likely to be able to play all day with a stick, most using their imagination, whereas sensors are more interested in concrete objects. They are more likely to want to have collections, or toys that are not open-ended but rather very specific (like dinosaur figurines for example). Imposing an ultra-minimalist lifestyle on a sensor might not allow them to cultivate their true gifts and interests. That doesn't mean you should be buying tons of toys for them, but it does mean that their "stuff" might be very important to them. When I hear about parents being bewildered about the toy issue, I get a bit frustrated that we are not hearing more about the individual children. Some children might thrive with 10 or no toys, while others would not be as happy.

It's great that you are making these efforts -- your family will benefit of course .

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
- Albert Einstein

sharing life with | 10 yo ds | 8 yo dd | dh (since 2012)
"I am not what happened to me...I am what I choose to become." ~ Carl Jung
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Old 06-28-2008, 04:31 PM
 
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I have realized lately that I need to remind myself that the part of my life I will share with my children is fleeting.

My oldest is almost 10. I have lived for 10 years gnashing my teeth about kid-clutter and the kind of clutter that comes out of being a SAHM with too few hours in the day.

Well, in another 15 years, for me, give or take a few years, it's likely that it will be only me and DH. And knowing I can get half a grip on six people's clutter now, I'm sure I will find it very easy to live a minimalist life when the kids are grown and gone. And then? Statistically speaking, I'll likely have another 3 decades to enjoy a minimalist lifestyle!

Of course, that is just my math; I have four kids and we are done, and for those who are quiverful or who for any other reason keep having baby after baby, the math is a little different. But you do eventually end up with a house either emptier or at least inhabited mostly by adults and almost-adults who can be expected to keep their own stuff under control. And who undoubtedly will, after growing up under your guidance!

So, that's the bright side I can foresee. I am thankful I don't have any packrats among my kids - mine are generally happy to play "keep or toss" and weed their own belongings. Not everyone has that blessing, I know. I definitely rotate stuff in and out (using tubs in the garage for storage) and do my own weeding as things get broken, worn, outgrown, or are generally unused/unloved.

Gotta run but I hope that helps.

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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Old 06-28-2008, 06:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by monkey's mom View Post
I guess I try to consider how hard it is for me (with my years of life-skills and coping tools) to deal with *more* when I really want *less.* And try to translate that into how well a kid who wants *more* can deal with my *less.* It seems backwards to me to expect the kids to deal better than I can, you know?
So true - I didn't think of it this way.

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Originally Posted by monkey's mom
Also, having certain very tidy spaces I can go to and just breathe and clear my head is wonderful.
Ah yes. We really don't have this. Our house is small for the number of people in it (about 1200 with 7 people, homeschooling so we're always here). There just doesn't seem to be enough room for everything even though I've decluttered a ton, and there is no "off limits" place as far as clutter's concerned. I don't even know if it's possible! LOL

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Originally Posted by Ksenia View Post
amyable, I wonder if it might be helpful to delve a bit into why you want to be a minimalist?
I definitely don't think it's an ego thing, although I could be in denial! For me, I think much of it is SANITY. Like I said earlier, we are a lot of people for a small space - homeschooling so a certain # of books and things are just a "necessity" - there will always be books and projects about - I want to allow for that and not go nuts with anything else, both time wise and "visually" (visual clutter). And part of it is just me not wanting to buy in, at all, to the wasteful consumerism that is so rampant around here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ksenia
Certain kids' personalities lend themselves better to minimalism than others. In the Myers Briggs personality scale, intuitives are more likely to be able to play all day with a stick, most using their imagination, whereas sensors are more interested in concrete objects. They are more likely to want to have collections, or toys that are not open-ended but rather very specific (like dinosaur figurines for example).
This is going to sound selfish -but I never thought about it from their perspective as far as personalities go! I'm an intuitive, and I know some of my kids are more like me, but maybe some of them aren't! I definitely need to look more closely at this and their needs in that regard. (I loved your Einstein quote, BTW)

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Originally Posted by amyamanda View Post
I have realized lately that I need to remind myself that the part of my life I will share with my children is fleeting.
Thank you for reminding me of this. While we may have more kids, we may not, and all too soon it will be over. 20 years sound like a LONG time to me right now though, LOL!

Thanks again for your thoughts everyone, keep 'em coming. :

Amy
Mom of 5 under 13
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Old 06-28-2008, 06:10 PM
 
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i am a hoarder turned minimalist. actually i wouldn't call myself a minimalist, but i do strive for simple and de-cluttered. we are also whole-life unschoolers and i'm not comfortable 'forcing' my ideals on my children. i went crazy when i first started de-cluttering and i got rid of a lot of my son's toys that he still remembers and cries about. it breaks my heart every time i think about it. here's what i've learned and what helps me.

1. keeping all the stuff you can't get rid of organized. it helps me so much that even though my kids have more toys than i'd like, they are neat and easy to clean. having the toys organized in a way that they are visible, within reach, and ready for play helps a LOT. they don't have to dig through bins etc. they can look at everything out and only take out what they want, it keeps the mess to a minimum.

2. knowing and respecting your child. i used to be so against licensed characters etc. and got rid of a lot of my son's spiderman/power rangers and 'violent' toys because they didn't fit my vision. but i've realized it's pretty bogus for me to decide what is important and valuable to him, after all, if someone decided for me that my garden gnomes are useless and got rid of them i'd feel incredibly dis-respected. but that's where the knowing your child comes in, because i easily get rid of cheap party favors and happy meal toys because i know they aren't important to him.

3. setting the example. if my son sees me going through stores coveting everything i see, i'm showing him that 'stuff' is important. if i keep the common rooms and my own room de-cluttered and peaceful feeling, he sees and feels how nice that is. i also talk a loud to myself so he can hear me like 'hmmm, this sweater doesn't really fit right and i haven't worn it in a while, i'm gonna donate it'. also, including him in conversations and letting him come up with solutions like 'hey, we have 15 plates and there are only 5 people living here. but, i want to have enough for when we have company, what should i do?' if we're at a store and i'm looking at something to buy, i share my thought process with my kids like 'wow, i like this [shirt, book, vase etc] but it [would only last one season, break easily, don't have room for it] or [i think i'll get it but get rid of the one have that i don't like as much so i'm not adding too much clutter].

4. if i want it clean, i clean it. my kids rooms are their own spaces. if they don't have a problem with it being messy, that's fine. however, it makes me crazy to walk by and see it messy so i clean it. same with the common living areas, i clean them because i'm the one that wants them clean. i frequently ask the kids to take their shoes or a random toy and put it away and they happily help with that, i think in large part because they aren't made to clean all the time. i'd rather have less help but have it done without an argument then force them to clean every day and it be unpleasant.

5. spending time together. i find that the more i take the time to read, play a game, do crafts etc. with the kids, the less they seem attached to the toys to entertain them. when my husband gets home we play games, ride bikes, play in the yard or go to the park or watch movies together etc. so i find that when they are left to entertain themselves, the toys they have are still fun because they aren't over played with.

6. as a pp mentioned, remembering that childhood is fleeting. i try really hard to cherish the messes. i even take pictures frequently of the dolls my dd sets up, the half done puzzles, the forts they build, the paint covered table, the spilled crayons, the dinosaurs eating each other, the pirate ship battles, the lego creations etc. one day, my floors will be toy-less, the walls will be finger print-less, and that actually makes me sad. so, i try to remember that every time i start to get frustrated with picking up after them. ultimately, i want my kids to know i care much more about them and our relationship than the vision i have for my home.

7. we also just moved last weekend and i was able to box up some toys that i'd like to get rid of and just haven't unpacked them. i'll keep the box for a few months and if it isn't asked for, i'll donate it.

hope that helps some!

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Old 06-28-2008, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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whoops, double posted

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Old 06-28-2008, 06:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by amyable View Post
Ah yes. We really don't have this. Our house is small for the number of people in it (about 1200 with 7 people, homeschooling so we're always here). There just doesn't seem to be enough room for everything even though I've decluttered a ton, and there is no "off limits" place as far as clutter's concerned. I don't even know if it's possible! LOL
What about even your closet? Or a bathroom?

My upstairs bathroom is the one we all share, but somehow, it stays so tidy and it cleans up so quickly. I put a few Coastal Living mags. in there and it just feels like a refreshing escape to go in and pee.

Oh! I know! How about your fridge? Sometimes a wonderfully clean and tidy fridge with a little bud vase with one or two fresh blooms on a shelf in there is the perfect thing when you're rushing around in the kitchen feeding everyone!

Right now my bedroom is pretty much mess. We are in this endless remodel of the kids room, so in addition to our family bed, we have the less coveted "family dresser." Which results in lots of laundry baskets all over the room. Blah!! But! The other day, I cleaned up my nightstand and made the bed and it felt a million times better! And when I'm looking at my clean, uncluttered night stand.....I can't see the laundry baskets behind me! Win-win!

Anyway! Great thread!
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:35 AM
 
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Originally Posted by granolapunk View Post
i am a hoarder turned minimalist. actually i wouldn't call myself a minimalist, but i do strive for simple and de-cluttered. we are also whole-life unschoolers and i'm not comfortable 'forcing' my ideals on my children. i went crazy when i first started de-cluttering and i got rid of a lot of my son's toys that he still remembers and cries about. it breaks my heart every time i think about it. here's what i've learned and what helps me.

1. keeping all the stuff you can't get rid of organized. it helps me so much that even though my kids have more toys than i'd like, they are neat and easy to clean. having the toys organized in a way that they are visible, within reach, and ready for play helps a LOT. they don't have to dig through bins etc. they can look at everything out and only take out what they want, it keeps the mess to a minimum.

2. knowing and respecting your child. i used to be so against licensed characters etc. and got rid of a lot of my son's spiderman/power rangers and 'violent' toys because they didn't fit my vision. but i've realized it's pretty bogus for me to decide what is important and valuable to him, after all, if someone decided for me that my garden gnomes are useless and got rid of them i'd feel incredibly dis-respected. but that's where the knowing your child comes in, because i easily get rid of cheap party favors and happy meal toys because i know they aren't important to him.

3. setting the example. if my son sees me going through stores coveting everything i see, i'm showing him that 'stuff' is important. if i keep the common rooms and my own room de-cluttered and peaceful feeling, he sees and feels how nice that is. i also talk a loud to myself so he can hear me like 'hmmm, this sweater doesn't really fit right and i haven't worn it in a while, i'm gonna donate it'. also, including him in conversations and letting him come up with solutions like 'hey, we have 15 plates and there are only 5 people living here. but, i want to have enough for when we have company, what should i do?' if we're at a store and i'm looking at something to buy, i share my thought process with my kids like 'wow, i like this [shirt, book, vase etc] but it [would only last one season, break easily, don't have room for it] or [i think i'll get it but get rid of the one have that i don't like as much so i'm not adding too much clutter].

4. if i want it clean, i clean it. my kids rooms are their own spaces. if they don't have a problem with it being messy, that's fine. however, it makes me crazy to walk by and see it messy so i clean it. same with the common living areas, i clean them because i'm the one that wants them clean. i frequently ask the kids to take their shoes or a random toy and put it away and they happily help with that, i think in large part because they aren't made to clean all the time. i'd rather have less help but have it done without an argument then force them to clean every day and it be unpleasant.

5. spending time together. i find that the more i take the time to read, play a game, do crafts etc. with the kids, the less they seem attached to the toys to entertain them. when my husband gets home we play games, ride bikes, play in the yard or go to the park or watch movies together etc. so i find that when they are left to entertain themselves, the toys they have are still fun because they aren't over played with.

6. as a pp mentioned, remembering that childhood is fleeting. i try really hard to cherish the messes. i even take pictures frequently of the dolls my dd sets up, the half done puzzles, the forts they build, the paint covered table, the spilled crayons, the dinosaurs eating each other, the pirate ship battles, the lego creations etc. one day, my floors will be toy-less, the walls will be finger print-less, and that actually makes me sad. so, i try to remember that every time i start to get frustrated with picking up after them. ultimately, i want my kids to know i care much more about them and our relationship than the vision i have for my home.

7. we also just moved last weekend and i was able to box up some toys that i'd like to get rid of and just haven't unpacked them. i'll keep the box for a few months and if it isn't asked for, i'll donate it.

hope that helps some!
great post, I can lose perspective when it comes to pursuing minimalism and I'm glad I read this.

Christy wash.gif Mom to DS 4/21/04 reading.gif DD 9/20/09  dust.gif DD 7/2/11jog.gif

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