January’s nearing to an end and well-intentioned resolutions may or may not have already started fading away (or were never made at all – in my case – oops!). But I think we can all agree there’s something still lurking in the back of our minds, nagging us as we continue to move forward in life, reaching – no wait, longing to finally realize our personal goals and dreams amid the foggy winter days.
For our family of four, that nagging comes in the form of needing to continue to, eagerly and steadily, minimize our belongings and decrease our consumption. We’ll be moving next month so we plan to use this life change as another opportunity to pair down.
But, as a family with two young kids it’s hard to get rid of as much as we maybe want to. The minute we begin discussing our minimalist desires in front of the kids, the oldest pipes up with his whiny tone and says,”But I don’t want to get rid of all my stuff!”
Oh well. I guess we need to work on our simple life modeling skills a bit more. We’ve already donated so many items, no wonder our children started clinging to items akin to pro-bono trinkets received from the dentist. Sad face.
No, in reality, our kids already live a rather minimal, simple lifestyle. There’s a basket in our living room with a few, imaginative items and then there are the books. Everywhere. And I still work hard to declutter our multitude of educational tools, since we homeschool, because one can have too many books, especially if they’re your kryptonite.
All this to say, we’ve accumulated a few kid’s items we deem essential and extremely valuable (whether or not we paid a fortune for them or not). In other words, these are the things we’ll be packing with us after donating or selling the other 97% of all of our items:
Bogs Boots – These amazing, 100% waterproof boots go everywhere, in any weather. Bogs last until the end of time and no one looks at you strange when your kids don them each season and for every occasion including but not limited to: summer gardening, spring puddle splashing, park/hike/birthday party/errand-running/forgot-their-basketball-shoes game time, snow-boots and sledding. They’re quite spendy (don’t buy them used) but you’ll be pleased to break them down by cost per wear.
Musical Instruments – Once you’ve built up a healthy dose of wonderful musical instruments – albeit quite often annoying because your littles don’t know how to tune anything or play said instruments using a “whisper voice” or a “gentle touch” yet – unless they’re damaged, will remain extremely useful for years to come.
Treasured Stuffed Animals – Unless you plan on being accused of the worst parents ever, don’t use minimalism as an excuse to rid your child of his or her’s best friend(s). It’s just cruel. Feel free to donate the ones at the bottom of that endless basket. But of course, don’t do it in front of your kids because then their friendship circle will surely increase in size.
Arts + Craft Materials – Sure, you could totally repurchase loads of paper, paints, brushes, crayons, oil pastels, Play-Doh and the fun little tools that go with them, stickers, glue, smocks, watercolors, stamps and stamp pads, pens, pencils, glue guns and glue sticks, stencils, beads, ribbons, twine, other cute little loose parts, rulers, glitter… Or not.
Games – No need to re-purchase these family bonding pass-times and the reason why many of us families decide to go minimal in the first place. However feel free to dispose or donate games without their proper storage if they look clunky and disorderly, are missing critical pieces or your children have outgrown them.
Wardrobe Essentials – Naturally swim suits, winter jackets, snow pants, a pair of gloves, a hat, a good backpack and any special outfits, clothing items or uniforms necessary for things like camping, sports, church or holiday outings, make sense to keep. But work on minimizing down to a capsule wardrobe for your kids (haven’t heard of a capsule wardrobe? Too many links exist on the subject, so I urge your Google it yourself and choose the style that works best for your needs). Regardless, your wallet, dressers and laundry-filled hours will thank you.
Sporting Goods – Both my husband and I competed in college sports. So while we prefer not to over-schedule our children in organized sports at a young age, we do follow their interests and allow each child one organized activity per season (our son is going after his Black Belt in Taekwondo and our daughter squeals in delight at the sight of a gymnastics arena). So, bikes, scooters, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, golf clubs and helmets top our personal “things to keep” list. Again, no need to repurchase these items if they’re used frequently. And keep in mind, you really only need one of each type of ball here people – not one basketball/football/soccer ball per person in the family.
Books – Duh.
The list above may still look like a lot of items to hardcore minimalists. But if you’re a parent like me who has accumulated more children’s stuff than you’re comfortable with, hopefully this will give you a good starting point.
And obviously you don’t have to move to a new living space to go through the list above and declutter your children’s belongings. Simply do what feels right to you. But let offloading items get uncomfortable. It might feel strange for a few minutes but you’ll notice the freeing feeling shortly thereafter – and believe me – it’s beyond worth it.
What would you add to your family’s essential must-have list?