There are many benefits of being a minimalist, especially when you’re single, but going minimalist with your family is a whole other ball game. With the growing minimalist movement has come a flood of books, guiding you towards minimalist Nevana, and the odd documentary or news piece that makes you feel guilty for buying those antique coasters on your trip down to Tassie last year.
To begin living a minimalist lifestyle, the best way to get ahead is by taking baby steps. The benefits of minimalism come not from chucking out so much that the family has to begin a roster for who gets to sit on the last remaining chair, but instead comes from a deeper appreciation for the possessions you do own and the slow and smart relinquishment of those things you don’t need.
Ensure everyone is on board with going minimalist
You may have been thinking about the benefits of minimalism for six months, but your kids won’t have. Your search for a decluttered mind, soul and house won’t get far if you don’t get your loved ones on board. Sit your kids down and frame the discussion as a new and exciting move for your family. You are going to do something incredibly exciting and fun together as a family.
Ask them to bring their favourite possession to the table and then talk about why those belongings mean so much to you. This can be a great springboard for discussing why you are going to focus on those things in the house that you love and avoid buying things that don’t mean that much to you. Through this process you will communicate the logic of going minimalist to your kids in a very simple way; they will understand that they will get to keep the things that matter to them, so won’t be ‘losing’ anything.
If you have a partner at home, it is important to get them on board as well. Whether or not you have kids in the mix, their support and collaboration will be key to successfully maintaining a minimalist lifestyle.
Start slow to get the full benefits of minimalism
It can be tempting to start throwing everything in the bin, thinking that it will be easier to start from scratch. This method may work for other things but it won’t work for going minimalist. There are different ways you can approach your first minimalist steps. For example, you may choose five things in each room you don’t need, and finish there. Or you may just choose to focus on one room and increase your limit to ten items.
Whatever your chosen method, you need a limit. Remember that the benefits of minimalism come from a long term approach to going minimalist, not a sudden purge of your possessions. Whatever your limit is, say five items per room, this is what you will stick to when you repeat the process each month, or whichever frequency you decide upon. Whether or not you declutter once a month or once every six months will depend on your goals and how cluttered your home is.
Avoid minimalism fads
There are plenty of books already out there that espouse their own method over others. For instance, there is a strong trend in some minimalism circles to only keep what you value, or what brings you joy. But what about your vacuum cleaner? Does anybody find joy in vacuuming? While these books will argue that there are different levels of joy to be found in the necessary belongings in your home, this approach just places obstacles for normal people who can’t be bothered searching their soul every time they think about throwing away an old bedsheet.
The benefits of being a minimalist come from simplifying your lifestyle as reflected through your worldly possessions. Complicating this in any way goes against the entire point of the process. Going minimalist is as simple an act as brushing your teeth. Give yourself limits each month and be logical about your decisions. That’s it!
Find suitable places for things
One of the strongest approaches that is currently on trend is popular for a reason. While you may not need to find ‘joy’ in every possession, it can be a great idea to be strategic in your approach to jettisoning the ship. Regardless of your limit, give yourself three piles in which to place things: possessions to be thrown out; possessions to be sold; possessions to be donated. Having piles for things to sell and donate will impact how you view the process of going minimalist, as you will find joy not in the act of decluttering but in the act of giving and helping your savings account when selling.
Remember that there is no one way to enjoy the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle. You may work through the home by room, by category (clothes; toys; electronics etc.) or without a clear strategy, but whatever you do, set a limit to what you throw out, establish a pattern for decluttering (once a month, once every six months) and if you’re not sure about an item, keep it. You can always get rid of it in the next session.