“I’m not anti-toy. I’m just pro-child. So do your child a favor and limit their number of toys.”
– Joshua Becker, Clutterfree with Kids
What does parenting as a minimalist look like?
Are your kids allowed only a few toys? No plastic toys? No electronics? The toys and electronics they will use often?
No extracurricular activities? Or maybe only a couple of days a week? As many as they truly enjoy, so long as there’s enough free time and schoolwork is kept up?
Only organic food? Vegetarian diet? Meals made from scratch? Or those based on processed foods to save time?
Homeschool? Waldorf school? Public school? A religious school?
Shopping for kid stuff only at garage sales and thrift stores? Or simply being frugal at the mall?
That’s all up to you. You’ll decide what minimalist parenting looks like in your family.
“Make Room for Remarkable. If we’re talking about compass points, this one is true north. When you get rid of the stuff you don’t love, there’s more room for the stuff you do love.”
– Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest, Minimalist Parenting
Parenting as a minimalist means living a meaningful, fulfilling life and raising your children to do the same. Since we all have different circumstances, priorities and personalities, our minimalist parenting styles will vary.
As with other areas of minimalism, you (and your spouse or other co-parent) will need to prioritize your values. Don’t forget to consider age-appropriate input from your children.
For example, if your child loves playing team sports or building competitive robots, prohibiting all extracurricular activities is probably not going to lead to your child’s long-term happiness. Similarly, if you’ve prioritized lots of social interaction and your child is an introvert, you may need to cut back and allow your child more solitude.
The same applies to the decluttering part of parenting as a minimalist. There are children who build complex structures and will get lots of enjoyment from having thousands of blocks. Others will be just as happy with a small set. Be sure to discuss decluttering with your child so you don’t inadvertently give away a treasured item.
“Slowing down and saving up to buy things teaches your kids to make wiser, less spontaneous purchasing decisions.”
– Rachael Cruze
Parenting as a minimalist also involves teaching your kids to think carefully before buying something and to give away items they realize aren’t as fun as they had expected or that they’ve lost interest in. Teach them the value of their time, as well as the value of money.
A few years ago, my son announced, as he hauled garbage bag after garbage bag from his room, that he’d realized the less stuff he has, the faster it is to clean his room, and the more time he had to play video games.
While he and I may disagree about the value of more gaming, I’m happy he understands that more stuff takes more time and that it’s best to keep only the possessions he uses and loves, so he has more time to focus on the things that matter most to him.
Minimalist parenting isn’t about having strict limits on toys and extracurricular activities. It’s about being mindful about what we do so that parents and children have time to focus on the activities that lead to meaningful and fulfilling lives.