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Why Minimalist Parenting?

by Tiffany in parenting

What is it about being an attached family that lends itself to a minimalist parenting style? Are you criticized by others wondering why your children don’t “have the hottest new item?”

I hope this post is not too redundant since I have addressed this subject many times before.

My own love of minimalism and going minimalist with kids probably stems from a few different things. First would be my desire to live green. Consumption of less stuff and reusing what you have instead of buying new is green and minimalist. They go together like peas and carrots.

The second reason why I love minimalism… it is liberating! Working tons of hours to afford the really nice house instead of the perfectly sufficient one or working to fund a never ending list of wants from all family members is a form of slavery. You are letting yourself be enslaved by the media and my popular culture. It is amazingly freeing to be able to step outside that mindset and see that you are happier not chasing after that shallow dream. So many people today are like hamsters on a wheel and some of us are fortunate enough to one day stop, get off the wheel, and realize we have no desire to ever get back on. Minimalism is a tool that keeps the important things in the forefront so we aren’t tempted to get back on that wheel.

So how does that work when your kids are being bombarded by media and popular culture.. which tells them the way to happiness is the accumulation of stuff? It is pretty easy actually. Just live your values and explain to your kids why you make the decisions you do.

My third reason for loving minimalism would probably be my desire to make the monumental job of parenting and living as stress free and enjoyable as possible. Parenting is oodles easier when you you don’t live among lots of clutter and you don’t have to work your life away to afford everything the media says you or your kids should have. This is perhaps why AP and minimalism get along so well too. It is easier to connect with your kids when you actually have time to spend with them and you or they are not engaged on some electronic device or some other diversion that society persuades us is important.

Because my two youngest have always been raised pretty minimalist they are very well adapted to the lifestyle. My oldest is a harder sell because he remembers the years we spent running on that hamster wheel and going into debt to buy oodles of useless crap. With him we have to justify our decisions quite often… like over, and over, and over again. We work hard for the “needs” in life and we are quite honest about the fact that we choose not to work any more hours than we have to, to buy “wants”. We want to model liberation and non-conformity so that our kids will not one day think they need to keep up with the Jones’s or go into debt to have the latest and greatest of everything. The smartest way to live IMO is to make the conscious decision to enjoy what you have right now, right here. When you are happy with what you have then the world is abundant, there are no limits, and you are rich.

Okay… so what does that mean literally? Well for us it means having a sparsely decorated home and fewer possessions. When I start having a problem finding a home for kitchen gadgets and utensils I know it is time to get rid of some. When the laundry starts to get overwhelming I decide it is time to pare down and I ask the kids to tell me what clothes they LOVE and what clothes they only wear because they are there. When the toy box gets overstuffed, some toys have got to go. It means visiting the library every week so that the bookaholics in the family are satiated. Gifts are given on holidays and birthdays and that is pretty much it unless we find a deal we cannot pass up (used sports equipment for instance). It means requiring our kids to help out with household cleaning and other tasks and paying them for these services so that they can get used to earning money and spending it wisely. It also means requiring them to use their money to pay for their own expenses… like pet food or blown bike tubes AND not advancing them money for larger purchases because that is like kiddie credit.  This allows them to see what it is like to have to budget in the needs before the wants and to not spend what they do not have. It often means waiting until gadgets and toys can be bought used or an older, cheaper model is available.

The goal of attachment parenting is not to keep kids dependent on or too attached to you as they grow but rather to give them the foundation they need to have confidence in their own choices and decisions. Raising them minimalist lends a helping hand by teaching them not to be slaves to media and the ideals of a culture obsessed with consumption.

Books I LOVE about minimalism and simple living:

Simplicity Parenting

Living Simply with Children: A Voluntary Simplicity Guide for Moms, Dads, and Kids Who Want to Reclaim the Bliss of Childhood and the Joy of Parenting

Frugal Luxuries

What about you? What works for your family?

Monday, October 17th, 2011

6 Comments on Why Minimalist Parenting?

  • Rachel

    Growing up, I was raised with out having a lot of material possessions. It wasn’t because we couldn’t afford it, because my father is a doctor and we could certainly afford things, but he and my mother knew that we didn’t need it. We lived a simple life and because of that my parents were able to spend their money more wisely on things like a Montessori education, catholic school and savings for us to go to college. I don’t know if I can say that my parents practiced attachment parenting, but something sure rubbed off on me. I’m glad I was raised with the foundation to know that material possessions are not necessary. So far my kids are mostly okay with it, that is while they are young enough to not know any better!

  • Amy

    I loved the Simplicity Parenting book. Our oldest is adopted and has Reactive Attachment Disorder and it’s amazing how much attachment parenting, routine, simplicity and organization go together and can make the bond better.

  • This is a good article. I guess I do these things for the most part not because I studied them but because God says to bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. God has taught me what books have taught others.    ITs good to be a Christian. 

  • Imissbear

    We live with less for sure.  We homeschool and for us that means less time spent at work.  I have always told the kids that we give them time instead of stuff.  One day my oldest even thanked us for it.  My heart melted: first because she noticed and took the time to appreciate and second because she “gets it”.  Everyone gets an allowance and my smart husband set them each up with a savings account to save for the big stuff they want that we will not buy them.  For my son it is a DSI.  Each week, for over a year now, he puts whatever he chooses into the DSI account and keeps so much to spend on whatever he chooses.  They are learning that it takes time to save for the big things and that each time you waste money on other things like candy it takes longer to get the stuff you really want.  This is the first time I have read your blog and really like what you had to say.  I will read again.  Thank you.

  • motherlands

    I wonder if we are minimalist parenting.  Our kids have just a few pairs of pants and shirts compared to others, and definite hand-me-downs when possible.  Even our 17-year-old is not greedy or materialistic.  We rarely go to the movies or to an amusement park. We do travel. Yet, after 3 children, our house does seem full of ‘personality’, clean but lots of books, animals, sometimes, yes, piles waiting by the stairs to go up or down.  There are probably too many toys, but they are rotated and there are some nice ones, ie.. wooden trains that I can’t bear to part with. Saving them for the grandchildren??  What about the wool and felt and sewing patterns for Halloween costumes?  But can I throw out that Polly Pocket my daughter was given by guests?  Won’t she miss it? Some minimalist households I know have no personality, no pictures, no books…. Any advice for a happy medium?

  • Ncruzsaubert

    For us it’s loving and appreciating our “small” home.  It is a 1950s ranch with 4 bedrooms and (gasp) 1 bathroom. A living room, dining room, kitchen, and nice yard.  We do not yearn to live in a “Mcmansion” to fill with “stuff.”  Our home decor consists of plants (to clean the air) artwork done by the kids, and family pictures– all which can be rotated as we see fit!   last year the boys got the wooden marble run you blogged about and it has been a godsend.  All 3 kids find pleasure in that toy!  We also gift used books.  While other kids are getting ipads mine are getting a “voucher” for tumbling lessons and wooden toys!  I like to believe they are thriving just fine!