Like most of us, I am a busy person, often over stimulated by the things and people in my environment and rarely give my family and myself the luxury of slowing down. But I think about simplifying my family’s life on a daily basis. I read a lot about it. I think a lot about it. The thing is, changing behavior takes time and practice.
Minimalist living is the idea of getting rid of things we don’t use or need to live a simple and uncluttered life. It’s about giving up the material possessions and lifestyle activities that bring us more stress than happiness. There isn’t a conclusive definition of what a minimalist lifestyle should be, but many minimalists describe it as the pursuit of living a simple lifestyle by making choices important to the individual “rather than adopting the consumerist mindset that most people have.”
Simplicity may be the ultimate sophistication, but is that true for kids? I’ve had a lot of people telling me that I am fighting a losing battle. That my children will want lots of toys, latest television and video games as they get older and we will cave. I’m told that my belief that the best thing I can give my children is my time will only last until they are small. Then I’ll be hopping on the bandwagon of plastic toys galore.
But for me the best benefit to embracing minimalism has been clarity about what we “prioritize as a family”. At the top of the list is time together and our health. When I donated 80% of my wardrobe I had acute regret about mindless shopping and buying things I ended up never wearing much. Thousands of rupees left our home and these were items we had spent weeks and months of our life working to pay for.
If time together as a family and health were my top priorities why I had bought, and thus worked for, a lot of stuff we never used? Why had I spent long hours at an office working for things when my real priority was eating well, exercise and more good conversation and laughter with my family?
I also have a secret weapon: my brother. One of the main reasons I remain convinced that we will be able to come home to a family that is content with less, is that my brother has already done it. My nephew and niece don’t watch television and when birthdays are around they are often hard pressed to think of something they want. These children skate, swim, read, build toys and go for hikes as a family. They’re engaged and attached with their parents, not television or an overstuffed toy box.
Simplicity Parenting Guiding Practices
Learn to Say No – Don’t over commit and over schedule life. I am getting much better at it but prepare to feel a bit lonely and isolated at first at least that has been my experience. This transition takes time.
Purge – Not easy to do but believe me “you will not think about those ‘things’ you give away, consign or toss into the garbage.”
Start with the “things” that actually make you unhappy. You don’t like looking at them or they are broken for example.
Rotate or Donate – Once you’ve purged all those things that make you unhappy and your home cluttered, next comes your children’s toys: rotate, rotate, rotate. You and your children will be much better for it.
De-clutter by way of Stimulation – Removing the “things” from your environment is a phenomenal first step but go beyond that step. Think about how you can decrease the stimulation in your life by changing the lighting and the sounds of your home. Maybe the television can be in a separate place to avoid being the center of the home, for example.
Find Balance – Whether in spirituality, nature, exercise or whatever way you personally find balance.
Be Proactive – Think about tomorrow the night before. Do the things you need to do to make your morning and your day go a bit smoother.
Step away from the Devices – I have a really hard time with this one.
When I make it happen though I see a real transformation!