Do you have someone in your life who always has gifts in hand for your baby? They may not see you that often, or maybe it’s a generous parent, but they always, always have something new for your kid. Even though you’ve told them time after time that less is more in your home and that you’re working towards minimalist parenting.
It’s difficult, telling your parents or grandparents, best friends or neighbors to keep their gifts or return their gifts. They’ve taken the time and money to go shopping, buy something, and are so excited to give it to their new, favorite, tiny human.
But as soon as you see a plastic-stuffed bag from Walmart or a gift bag the size of a car tire, you become anxious. We don’t need more stuff, you may think to yourself.
We’ve experienced this quite often in the 10 months that baby has been in our life. Whether the gifts are new out of the box or gently used toys from our childhood, family members always come with something.
I’ve told them that we’re trying to be minimalist parents, for many reasons. We aren’t interested in piling stuff in our house, cluttering our minds, and besides, we don’t have room for it in our 700sqft. We choose our things wisely.
Before we buy something or accept something into our home we ask ourselves:
• How will this bring us joy?
• Will this contribute to a calm, peaceful atmosphere?
• Will this make our lives easier in any way?
• How will we benefit from having this in our home?
• Do we have space for this (mentally and physically)?
Because being minimalist parents is about more than owning less stuff. It’s about having a greater capacity emotionally and mentally. It’s about slowing down and experiencing every part of each day, from the early morning dew to the evening crickets. It’s about giving our children the space they need to become the people we want them to become.
Our children aren’t going to remember people by the stuff they give them, but by the memories they create with them – sleepovers, vacations, mealtimes, game nights, etc. We want to teach our children that there is value in being rather than owning.
Children also benefit developmentally from having less stuff. Minimalism promotes calm, stillness, creativity, and reflection.
Being a minimalist parent and living a minimalist life adds value to your home for several reasons. Below are the benefits of minimalist parenting.
Having less stuff allows you to be more.
We don’t need stuff to have experiences. Baby is only 10 months old, but we quickly learned that she is just as happy collecting leaves in the yard as she is chewing on her wooden blocks. As she grows, she will continue to experience the world around her, unfettered by plastic toys and talking stuffed animals.
Having less stuff encourages us to get outside more. As minimalist parents, we aim to be in nature and help our children find themselves through introspection and observation.
Quiet toys allow for freedom of creativity and expression.
Toys with flashy lights and artificial sounds limit children’s ability to create and learn. While advertised as being toys great for learning, they actually do the opposite because they do everything for your child. Letting your baby entertain herself allows for freedom of play. This may mean handing over a pot and spoon, a drawer full of rags, or a sealed container of almonds.
Quiet toys enhance your child’s physical and cognitive development by allowing them to manipulate objects in a variety of ways. Maybe they use a hatbox as a table, a seat, a drum, or stage. Their wooden chew ring may quickly become their favorite bracelet. Or our childhood favorite – the living room blankets magically become a fort.
Imagine your kid making siren noises or trumpeting like an elephant or learning rhythm by shaking her maraca. Being a minimalist parent encourages more communication between parent and child. They learn to express with their hands, feet, and mouth and develop communication skills for every day.
Minimalist parenting also aligns with the Montessori method. Introducing your child to objects you use everyday around the house prepares them for real life and their future, while keeping the toy stash at bay.
Less stuff causes less stress.
Have you ever had lots to do at home – write papers, focus on projects, laundry, budget, etc? But when you sit on your couch and look around the room, the piles of old mail, baby toys, and Goodwill bag are beaming at you? You can’t focus on anything until the piles and trash are out of site?
And then there’s the story of Legos scattered across the floor – sticking to your feet, being eaten by the dog, and being kicked under the couch not to be found until months later.
Being a minimalist parent allows you to have less – less to bring into the home, less to take out. With fewer toys comes fewer messes and fewer panic attacks. Having less causes less stress and more time to focus on what’s important to you, your child benefiting all the while.
Less stuff creates less waste.
This is a deal breaker for me – having fewer toys creates less waste and a happy home. The more you own, the more you have to dispose of, donate, or sell when you’re finished with it. Toys don’t belong in the landfill.
Having fewer things saves money.
I’m all about saving money! It goes without saying that owning less, buying less, disposing of less saves money. Being a minimalist parent and raising minimalist children teaches them that there is more value to experiences – they won’t want stuff – their interests will be beneath the pines, in their blanket tent, or hidden in song. You won’t have to spend money to make them happy, and neither will grandma, grandpa, uncle, aunt, or neighbor. Everyone saves!
How do you practice minimalist parenting? Share with me below!