Minimalism Tips & Tricks with Toddlers

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About a year ago, a soft-spoken Asian woman came roaring into our living rooms. You may have heard of her- Marie Kondo? Suddenly, thanks to her, it became the next *big thing* to go through all of your belongings to see what “sparked joy” and what did not. If it didn’t, you said goodbye to it.

My husband fell in love with that concept. Personally, I was skeptical. We needed all our stuff! I could think of uses for all of it if I needed to. My husband began trying to convince me that we needed to purge. That’s his favorite word- purge. “We need to purge, Liz. We have too much stuff.” And in his defense, we did. Our countertops were cluttered with appliances, and drying racks, and stacks of mail and bills and receipts. The boys’ playroom had tubs upon tubs of toys. Our closets were jam-packed with stuff that I didn’t have a home for, but couldn’t bring myself to let go of.

Minimalism Tips with toddlersA Clear Counter (and Mind!)

My first glimpse into what minimalism could do for my mental health was when my husband made it a point to clear our kitchen counters of everything that cluttered them. We put our appliances away, got rid of all of the paper junk, and tossed the drying rack and mat. In a matter of a day, I was hooked. It felt clean and spacious and tidy. Clearing those counters sent me on a mission to make my entire house feel that way.

Now, you may know that I have 2 young children. How does one create a minimalistic environment in their home with 2 children, 2 dogs, 2 adults, and a baby on the way? It took some gentle (and occasionally some not so gentle) persuasion, but it is possible– and it made the whole atmosphere in our home feel lighter. It is a work in progress, and I probably still keep too much to be considered a true “minimalist”, but it works for us!

Minimalism Tips – 4 Easy Tricks

Read on below to learn some of my minimalism tips and tricks to create that atmosphere in your own home.

  1. Start small.

A big roadblock to starting a mission like minimalism with toddlers is the sheer magnitude of it all. I initially felt overwhelmed when I thought of each room in our home, each closet, each drawer. I had to realign my thinking and focused on one room– heck, one closet– at a time. So I chose a room (in my case, the front room/office) and emptied the closet in there, as well as all the drawers in my husband’s storage cabinet. Once I felt like that room was “done”, I would move on to the next.

2. Focus on what you DO have.

Ten water glasses and 4 people living in your house? I think that is probably plenty for your day to day life. On a deeper level, I think we all have some sense of fear that we will eventually need something that we get rid of, but the truth is, you probably don’t. Everything we actually need we use on a regular basis. I don’t miss the extra serving platters and 15 coffee mugs that we donated.

3. Make use of pickup donation services.

In the past, I would frequently gather up bags and bags of stuff, and then tell myself I’d go to Goodwill to drop them off. Spoiler alert: I would never go. AMVETS is an organization that makes it so easy to donate your stuff! You literally go to their site, schedule a pickup, and voila! Just make sure you put it outside on the day of the pickup, and you’re good. I am not sponsored by them, I just need the easiest solutions possible.

4. Stop using “organizational objects”.

Organizing is just another excuse for not getting rid of extra junk. How many times have you “organized” your overflowing t-shirt drawer, only to continue to choose the same 5 t-shirts in there? That was me. I thought the playroom was “organized” because we had 15 bins and buckets of toys. Instead, I condensed all those toys 4 bins in a storage cube. I explained to R that we were going to give his toys that he didn’t play with regularly to little boys and girls that didn’t have as many as he does. He is so grateful for any new toy he receives now, and frankly, it has helped his focus and attention span immensely not having all the stuff in there!

A Work in Progress

Our home is still a work in progress. I regularly go through those closets and drawers to make sure I have not started to hoard stuff again. Donation pickups get scheduled even without having anything to donate, just as a motivator to go through our stuff again. I am no expert on living as a minimalist, and sometimes it seems slightly overrated– our house still doesn’t look like those white and cream model homes on Instagram. But I remind myself that isn’t my goal- my goal is to create an environment for my family that will foster good habits, creativity, and gratitude, and I think we are definitely on our way there.

For more home tips, click here. For more parenting experiences, click here.

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