My column is going to be a bit different this month as it is all about a topic that I have been thinking about quite a bit lately so I have decided to share it with you – MINIMALISM
I have to admit that I tend to be a bit of a hoarder. I blame my mom since she is a HUGE hoarder and keeps everything! Recently she brought me my 1st report card from class 1 to see if I would like to keep it… I am 41! Ok, so I am not as bad as that (yet?) but I do find that sometimes it gets a bit much even for me, so I have been toying with the idea of trying out minimalism.
I have been hearing quite a bit about the subject lately, and apparently not only will it help your life, if you do it right you can save money. There are so many blogs, facebook groups, websites and programmes dedicated to this lifestyle so I was wondering if our family should give it a try. Would it be a good fit for us?
As with all my ideas (even the wacky ones I have at 3am in the morning) I have been doing a bit of research into the area.
Firstly, do you know what minimalism is? I sure didn’t. When I think of minimalism, I have this picture in my head of a house which is practically bare, plain white, with only the very basics, sterile and cold. This is definitely NOT what I want. But after reading even the first article I realised that minimalism can be that, but it can also be something quite different, it all depends on how minimalistic you are wanting your lifestyle to be.
So, what is minimalism?
This is the definition i found on a website called https://www.theminimalists.com/.
“Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.”
Here is another one I found from www.nosidebar.com/why-minimalism/
“Being a minimalist means you value yourself more than material things. It means making decisions based on what you need instead of getting everything you want. It does not mean the things you buy are cheap. It means they are something you need, regardless of how much they cost.”
Just reading those 2 definitions made me want to explore the option even more, but I was wondering at the same time… am I just being crazy? Is this going a bit TOO far in my money saving quest, making such a drastic lifestyle change. Would this new life be worth the money I am supposed to be saving by becoming a minimalist or am I just going to be making yourself and family unhappy?
So, I read a few more articles and joined a few more facebook groups on the subject to find out more.
I have decided to share 2 articles with you which really resonated with me and made me want to at least give minimalism a try. This first one is taken from www.nosidebar.com/why-minimalism/.
5 REASONS FOR WHY YOU SHOULD MINIMALISM
1. Decluttering helps people breathe.
When you start to get rid of stuff from the drawers, closets, and attics, you are going to be opening up more space in your home. There will be more room to move around. More importantly, you will be letting go of things you were holding onto. This will give freedom and will make it easier for you to breathe without the burdens of the past weighing you down.
2. Minimalism allows for refocusing.
When you have a lot of material things, your focus can be all over the place. You worry about working enough to pay for all of the stuff and you spend your time trying to look for or put away all of the stuff in your home. When the stuff is gone and the bills of the home are lessened, it becomes possible to focus time and energy on the important things such as the people around you and the things you are doing.
3. Less stuff equals more money.
As you get rid of stuff and luxuries in the home, other things are opened up. The money spent buying stuff, maintaining stuff and making sure you have the best stuff will end up in the pocket instead of in the store. When you have fewer things you can use your money to pay off debt and that will eventually free up even more money. The dependency on money in a minimalist lifestyle is much lower.
4. You have more time.
When you need less money, you do not have to work as much. That frees up time. You are also not going to spend as much time dealing with all of the extra things in your life. You can focus your time on the things you need and use the extra time that is created on the things you enjoy.
5. You have more energy.
Without all of the clutter, all of the energy that is spent dealing with it will be available for other activities. People without the burden of a materialistic lifestyle are healthier and stronger as a result.
The great thing about minimalism is that it is a choice. People can choose whether they want to live this lifestyle or not. They can choose how far they want to go. There are no right or wrong ways to downsize a life. Everyone is different. What most people will find is once they begin a journey towards minimalism, the experience will grow and the benefits will get larger and they will want more — and that is one thing a minimalist can want more of.
My next question after reading all those benefits is, wow that sounds wonderful and all, but can you become a minimalist if you are a family with young kids? And if you can, what are the benefits?
So, before I got too excited and rushed to the first cupboard to start decluttering (which thinking about while I sit here writing this column, would probably be a good thing to do regardless) I was back into research mode to see if I could find out more about the benefits of being a minimalist parent and if it is actually something that would benefit our family.
Again, I found a great article about the subject called “How to Parent Like a Minimalist” by Denaye Barahona who has a Ph.D in child development and is a clinical social worker with her speciality being child and family practice (www.simplefamilies.com/parent-like-minimalist)
How to Parent Like a Minimalist
Fortunately minimalism has a secret formula for parents: Less is More. Here are some lessons I’ve learned on my journey toward a simpler family life:
1. Hover less and your children will live more.
We spend so much time protecting our children, we forget to let them live. When we hover over them and perseverate over safety, our fears can undermine a child’s confidence. These fears rob them of their independence. Instead of hovering, let’s instill a sense of responsibility and natural curiosity for the world. Allow your children to live life to the fullest. Even if that means climbing to the top of the jungle gym without a spotter.
2. Entertain less and your children will innovate more.
In many ways, Pinterest is a trap. The abundance of art, craft, and activity ideas that abound leave us feeling as though we need to do more to entertain our kids. Wouldn’t it be easy if we could just flip a switch and provide unlimited entertainment for our kids?
Oh wait, we can. It’s called screen time. When we provide endless varieties of entertainment for our children, we leave them with very little opportunity to create and explore new ideas on their own.
So hear me out: Follow my lead and skip the Pinterest activities. Then cut back on the screen time. Let kids be bored. Give them space. The innovation that results will astound you.
3. Schedule less and your children will rest more.
As humans, we need to rest our bodies and minds. This is particularly true of small bodies that are growing and maturing rapidly. Research show us that childhood anxiety is a rising epidemic in this generation. A child who grows up with anxiety is significantly more likely to be plagued with mental health challenges throughout their adult years.
Do you know what our children need? Rest.
Do you know what we need? Rest.
Stop making rest a luxury—make rest a priority. The mental and physical health of your family depends on it.
4. Referee less and your children will problem solve more.
As parents, we wear many hats. One hat we need to hang up is that of the referee. Parents have the tendency to jump in and solve any disputes and challenges that children come across. It’s easier to be the referee than watch two kids awkwardly settle their own disagreement. It’s easier to jump in and help than wait ten minutes for a kid to fumble through shoe tying. After you hang up that hat, get comfortable sitting on the sidelines in silence. Kids need a lot of practice to learn how to problem solve—so let’s give them many chances to do it for themselves.
5. Buy less and your children will seek more.
Research shows that clutter is associated with higher levels of stress in families. Have you yelled at your kids to clean up their rooms recently? If your home has less inside, it is easier to clean up. It is easier to take good care of fewer things.
You know what doesn’t have a long-term impact on a child happiness? The latest hit toy. Buy your children less, and as a result, they will be able to better filter out the noise and focus on the important things.
Studies tell us that family vacations and togetherness have a long term impact on a child’s happiness. Let’s teach our children to value “stuff” less and experiences more.
My final thoughts on the subject are. After all the research and articles I have read I am more convinced than ever that trying to live a more minimalistic lifestyle is definitely what I am wanting to choose for our family. I know for a fact there is no way we can go “drastic” into the minimalism lifestyle but I already know a few areas that we can definitely start working on:-
- Getting rid of unnecessary clutter in our house
- Not buying things just because we WANT them
- Teaching my kids the difference between wants and needs
- Spending more time together as a family
- Less technology and screen time
- Experiences over material things
These are going to be my top 6 goals going forward for my family and amazingly enough yes they do seem to line up with being able to save money. But to be honest, this time the money saving part is just going to be a bonus!
Until next time.
“Being a minimalist means you value yourself more than material things…”