You might ask yourself if it’s even possible to live a minimalist lifestyle with a family. Well, spoiler alert, yes, it is. But how? And how long does it take?
You may have heard of the minimalist lifestyle and thought it sounded great. A life with less stuff, less stress, and more time to enjoy the things you love sounded amazing! But then you thought about your family. Could you really downsize your life and get rid of all your unneeded belongings with kids in the picture? And maybe a husband who knows nothing about minimalism?
A minimalist lifestyle with a family sounds like an impossible task and such an overwhelming one.
And I know it because I’ve been there. I lived in a house full of stuff, especially clothes. I had closets and drawers full of clothes that I had never worn. Same with my mom and my sister.
Our family storage was full to the brim of things we thought we needed but never used.
Now, having my own family, things are different.
Is it possible to live a minimalist lifestyle with a family?
The short answer is yes! It is possible to live a minimalist lifestyle with a family. In fact, many families are doing it! But it does take some effort and planning to make it work. Don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it may seem. Once you get started, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to live with less.
I am happy to declare that my family’s lifestyle is pretty minimalistic.
Of course, we are not perfect and there are always areas that we can improve on but overall, I would say that we live a very simple life.
We don’t have a lot of stuff and we don’t spend a lot of money.
And we are happy.
What is a minimalist family?
Relax, there is no exact definition of what a minimalist family does or doesn’t do.
But in general, families who live a minimalist lifestyle try to keep only the essential things in their life. They focus on quality over quantity and experiences over things.
And when I say that there is no definition of what a minimalist family is, I mean that it looks different for everyone. For you, it might mean owning 2000 items, and for someone else 15 items (yes, there are people who live with 15 items).
I followed a woman some time ago that declare herself a minimalist (she has 5 children). And yes, she has a minimalist wardrobe for herself and her children. But, in my opinion, she has lots of stuff. Lots of Christmas gifts, all those stuff.
But yes, it is certainly less than an average American family owns. So she does have a minimalist family.
Comparing my family to her, we have much less stuff. And we are also a minimalist family.
So the idea is that it looks different for everyone. And it works differently for everyone. If you want to live a minimalist lifestyle with your family, start small.
Challenges of living a minimalist lifestyle with a family
Considering the fact that it is basically a new lifestyle that you have to implement in your family, there could be some challenges that you might notice in your journey as a minimalist family. Although they might be difficult to face, remember that these challenges are only temporary and they will go away as you and your family get used to the new lifestyle.
So here are some of the challenges that you might come across:
Dealing with your family members’ stuff
One of the biggest challenges of living a minimalist lifestyle with a family is dealing with other people’s stuff. If your spouse or partner is busy or not at home, it can be difficult for you to downsize their belongings. Plus, it’s not a good idea since they know better what they need.
The same goes for your kids. As much as you want to declutter their rooms, it’s not your call.
One way to deal with this is to have a “declutter day” where everyone in the family goes through their belongings and decides what they want to keep and what they want to get rid of. This can be a great way to encourage everyone in the family to participate in your minimalist lifestyle.
Dealing with unwanted gifts
Another challenge you might face is dealing with unwanted gifts. As a family, big or small, you will receive gifts from friends and family. And not all of them will be to your taste or needs.
Well, there are three options that you can do to deal with this:
- You can re-gift it to someone who will appreciate it more.
- You can donate it or try to sell it.
- Or you can tell the person who gave it to you that you don’t need or want it and why.
The most important thing is not to let it clutter your house.
Further reading: Unwanted Gifts: How to Handle & Prevent Receiving Them
One/more of your family members are not open to the idea of a minimalist lifestyle
Of course, it’s not always going to be easy to convince all your family members to jump on the minimalist bandwagon. And that’s okay. You can’t force anyone to change their lifestyle if they’re not ready or open to it.
The best thing you can do is to lead by example and hope that eventually, they’ll come around.
If they see that you thrive and are happy with your new lifestyle, they might be more open to the idea.
You have little to no idea where to start
Not only the decluttering part is overwhelming, but the idea of telling your family about your decision to live a minimalistic lifestyle can be daunting, too.
But trust me: the beginning is the hardest part. Once you get started, it will be much easier.
So the advice for now: JUST START.
You will need a lot of patience
Like with anything new, you will need time to get used to this lifestyle. And it might not be easy at first, especially with a family. Your family members might not be on board with your decision to live a minimalist lifestyle.
So you will need to be patient and explain your reasons for wanting to live this way.
It might be hard to stay focused on this lifestyle
While now you think that it is the best decision to live a minimalist lifestyle, you might change your opinion later when it is going to get challenging.
Let’s say you are in a store and your child wants a toy that you know he is not going to use for more than a week. You have to stay focused and explain to him why you are not buying it. This can be hard, he might start a tantrum, and you might give in. But if you want to live a minimalist lifestyle, you need to be strong and explain your reasons.
Benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle with a family
Oh, challenges are many but how about the benefits?
You will save money
The first and most obvious benefit is that you will save money. When you declutter your home, you get rid of things you don’t need or use. This means that you will stop buying things that you don’t need. And when you stop buying things you don’t need, you will, obviously, save lots of money.
I love this one. When you have less stuff, you will have less to clean. This means that you will have more time for the things you love and care about.
Instead of cleaning every day all the toys and clothes that your children have, you can focus on spending more time with your family.
You will feel lighter
Literally. And abstractly. When you declutter your home, you get rid of all the unnecessary things. This will make your home feel lighter and more spacious. And it will make you feel lighter, too. You will get rid of the physical and mental clutter that was weighing you down.
Relationships in your family will grow
When you live a minimalist lifestyle, you will focus on the things that really matter. And one of those things is your family (well, one of the most important ones, actually).
You will have more time and energy to invest in your relationships. You will be able to create lasting memories with your loved ones. For instance, instead of buying your child a new toy every week, you can go on a trip to the park or play catch in the backyard.
You will be happier
You will be surprised how happy you can be with less. When you get rid of all the materialistic things that are weighing you down, you will feel lighter, freer, and happier. And isn’t that what we all want?
Steps to take to live a minimalist lifestyle with a family
So how can you live a simpler life with a family? Here are a few steps:
1. Finding your “why”
It might sound cliche, but the first step to anything is finding your “why”. Ask yourself: why do you want to live a minimalist lifestyle? To make it easier for you, here are a few reasons why people want to live a minimalist lifestyle:
- To declutter their life and have less stuff and less cleaning time
- To simplify their life and focus on what’s important, like family and friends
- To have more time to pursue their hobbies or passions
- To save money
- To live a more eco-friendly lifestyle
- To reduce stress and anxiety
Once you know your “why”, it will be easier for you to stick to your decision of living a minimalist lifestyle.
Also, you will need to explain your “why” to your family members so they can understand your decision.
2.Get everyone on board
The second step is to get your whole family on board with the idea of living a more minimalist lifestyle.
This can be tough, especially if your kids are used to having a lot of stuff. But some studies show that when kids have less stuff, they are actually happier. Not to mention, it will be a lot easier for you if everyone is on the same page.
Your partner is going to be key in this process. If he/she is not on board, it will be very difficult to make any changes. Talk to your partner about your plans and why you want to live a more minimalist lifestyle. If they are not open to the idea, try to show them the benefits. For example, less stuff means more money to save or spend on experiences.
3. Declutter as a family
Once you’ve got everyone on board, it’s time to start decluttering your home as a family. This doesn’t mean getting rid of all of your possessions – but it does mean being intentional about what you keep and what you get rid of. Have each family member go through their belongings and decide what they want to keep and what they can live without.
Then, donate or sell anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Not only will this give your home a much-needed makeover, but it will also teach your children the importance of living with less. In the future (with very much patience from your side), they’ll be more likely to play with what they have and resist the urge to accumulate stuff they don’t need.
So ask yourself:
- What do I own that I never use?
- What do I own that I don’t truly love?
- What do I own that adds nothing but clutter and stress to my life?
Once you’ve answered those questions, let go of those things—either by selling them, donating them, or throwing them away. Trust me; you won’t miss them once they’re gone. And your life will be all the better for it.
Related: Your Complete Clutter-Clearing Guide
4. Find joy in simple things
One of the best things about minimalism is that it allows you to find joy in the simple things in life. Instead of spending money on expensive activities or toys, focus on doing things together as a family that doesn’t cost anything – like going for walks, visiting the library, or playing games at home.
Another great way to find joy in simple things is to cook meals together as a family. This is a great way to bond and it’s also a lot cheaper than eating out all the time.
Moreover, you can stick to some family traditions that don’t require spending any money at all. For example, watching family movies together every Saturday or taking turns telling stories.
5. Set some ground rules
Setting some ground rules as a family is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to living a minimalist lifestyle.
Examples of ground rules can be:
- Understanding the difference between needs and wants and only buying what we need
- For each new item that comes in, one item must go out (it’s especially useful for children, so the toys don’t accumulate in your house).
- Only eating out on special occasions
- Have a specific day each month when everyone declutters their belongings (make it fun for the whole family)
- Planning family activities that don’t cost anything
10 practical tips on minimalism with a family
I know you’ve got this but I’ll give you some tips on minimalism with a family.
1. Practice toy rotation
Toy rotation is when you only have a certain number of toys out at a time and you rotate them every few weeks. This way, your kids won’t get bored and overwhelmed with too many toys and you won’t have to buy new toys as often.
It’s like buying new toys for free from your storage space.
2. Implement one in, one out rule
The one in, one out rule is when you or your child can only have a new toy if they get rid of an old one. That way, you won’t end up with too many toys and your child will learn to be more intentional with their belongings.
3. Always communicate with your partner
It’s hard to educate the kids when you and your partner are not on the same page. So make sure you’re always communicating with each other about your goals and what you expect from each other when it comes to minimalism.
4. Delay gratification
Delaying gratification is one of the most important things you can teach your children. It’s the ability to resist the temptation of instant gratification and wait for something better in the future.
You can teach your children this skill by making them wait for a certain amount of time before they can have a new toy. For example, you can say “if you wait a week, we’ll go to the store and you can pick out one new toy.”
5. Emphasize that stuff doesn’t last but relationships do
Make sure your kids (and your partner) understand that stuff doesn’t last but relationships do. Tell them this in different circumstances and different ways so they really understand it.
One way you can do this is by telling them stories about your childhood and the things that you remember most. Chances are, it’s not the stuff you had but the relationships you had with people.
6. Go places
There are plenty of places you can go as a family that doesn’t cost anything. Visiting the park, going on a nature walk, or going to the library are all great options. The idea is to find things you can do together as a family that don’t require spending any money.
7. Set intention to be present
Most often we are not mindful of the time that we spend with our family. We just go through motion waiting for another moment to come.
But when you’re intentional about being present, it changes everything. You’ll find that you have more patience, more energy, and more love for your family.
Observe your children’s play, and don’t let your mind wander. Be fully present at the moment and enjoy it.
8. Have a place for every item in the house
This tip is more general. But it’s important nonetheless.
When you have a place for every single item in your house, it’s easier to keep things tidy and organized. It’s also easier to find things when you need them.
So make it a rule in your house that everything has a place and that everyone puts their things back in their place when they’re done using them.
9. If you said “no”, keep it that way
When you tell your kids “no”, make sure you stick to it. Don’t give in to their whining or crying. If you do, they’ll learn that they can get what they want if they just cry long enough. So if for instance they see a toy in a store and you say “no”, don’t give in and buy it for them.
You will be thankful you did in the long run.
10. Reap the benefits
There are many benefits that come with living a minimalist lifestyle with a family.
You’ll find that you have more time, energy, and money. You’ll also find that your relationships are stronger and you’re able to be more present.
So be grateful that you chose this lifestyle and enjoy the benefits that come with it.
How long does it take to implement a minimalist lifestyle in your family?
It usually takes a bit of time to implement a minimalist lifestyle in your family. By “a bit of time”, I mean a long time.
But don’t get disheartened. Even a small step like getting rid of broken and unused items can be life-changing. It feels amazing to let go of things you don’t need and see your living space transform before your eyes.
It takes a while to adapt and to see what works for you and your family. But it can transform your life in ways you never thought possible.
For instance, you might find that your children have better behaved because they know what’s expected of them and they have fewer distractions.
This is a long game with a happy ending. So take your time and enjoy the journey.
Minimalism isn’t about having less stuff – it’s about living with intention and purpose so that you can make room for the things that matter most to you. And yes, it is possible to be a minimalist even if you have a family! By involving everyone in the process, decluttering as a family, simplifying your schedules, and finding joy in simple things, you can live a more minimalist lifestyle with ease – despite having children!
What challenges have you faced when trying to live a more minimalist lifestyle with a family? Was it worth it in the end? Let me know in the comments below.
Have a great day!