How does a Minimalist Lifestyle Help you Mother Better?
Mothering is hard.
A really, really good thing.
But it is difficult. Time consuming. Energy consuming.
Minimalism can help balance out the demands of family life and provide space and time to pursue the important things that aligned with your core values.
There is discussion about the differences between minimalism and simple living. In fact, there are many definitions and opinions about what minimalism is. My definition of minimalism is intentional living focused on mindful choices that help us release things (items, people, activities, habits) that are not aligned with our values.
Simple living, or a simple life, is usually a by-product of this because we eliminate the stuff in life that doesn’t do anything for us.
Less Stuff Means More Time
Time is a resource that we all must manage. How many mothers say that they just feel like they have too much time on their hands?
(Insert the sound of crickets.)
Yes, time is hard to come by for busy moms with a lot of things to balance and manage. And if you’re a new mom, well, you definitely don’t have lots of time.
“Well yes, between changing 10 diapers a day, nursing every two hours, washing loads of clothing, trying to stay awake as I make myself yet more food to eat, I just have LOADS, and LOADS of time on my hands.Said no mother. Ever.
When you remove random stuff from your house: items that you do not use or really enjoy having around, you have less to dust, arrange, move, put back in the right place, trip over, throw away, recycle, and find a place to store. Whew.
The good news is that that’s 8 less tasks you have to juggle when you keep what you love and use and let go of the rest.
Minimalist Living Allows you to Breathe
Not only does removing items from your house give you more time, it means fewer things in your space. You do not have to live in a sparse house with white walls to find relief from a bit more breathing room in your house.
Try it for a few days just as an experiment. Pack up extra things in one of your rooms and store them out of the way for 3 or 4 days. See what it feels like and notice how your body feels. There is a good chance that you may feel some relief when excess stuff is out of sight. Less clutter makes it easier for your brain to relax.
A Meaningful Life is an Intentional Life
It is frustrating to feel as if life is passing you by and you aren’t doing what you want or living how you want or showing up how you want. Sometimes, we call it a good day when we’ve simply gotten the to-do list done and made it through the day all in one piece. There are seasons where that’s enough but no one wants to leave dreams and goals on the table by living like this year-after-year. Making choices to opt-out provides opportunity for you to opt-in to the important things.
Minimalist Families Can Live in a Small Space
A simpler life does not require that you and your family members live in a small space but it does allow you to live in a small space much easier. It’s simple to understand why too much stuff requires more space. But you don’t have to resort to extreme minimalism in order to raise happy kids in shared bedrooms, a smaller living room, or a home with less-than-ideal closet space.
Learning to live with what you need and (really) want is a great way to start living with intention. It may take a couple of years (or several more) to get the hang of truly knowing what is important to you and getting comfortable with saying no to things that are not, but developing these discriminating new habits will help you get closer to saying no to the bigger things in life that may appear good but aren’t really what you want.
There are so many reasons minimalism is worth your time. If the above ideas didn’t inspire you, maybe these other 10 reasons will.
10 Benefits of Minimalism
- More family time
- Less cleaning
- Faster path to financial independence
- Simple things become very meaningful
- You stop being as vulnerable to the yay!-shiny-new-things syndrome
- You find creative, different ways to spend time instead of buying things
- There is more space for the hobbies you truly value
If you’re on board and want to give it a shot, pick one of these ideas as a first step.
7 Keys of Minimalist Parenting
- Less Toys: If you start this as first time parents, it is much easier than helping kids par down their toys. But either way, it is possible for young children and teens alike to live well without their house looking like a toy store. And do you really, really want to keep storing those old toys for one day?
- Less Clothing: I’ll admit, this is tough when kids are really little and the clothing is so darn cute. But once kids get past the year mark, you probably need a lot less clothing than you think. Even a bottom and shirt a day plus a few extras and 1 or 2 pair of pajamas are enough for most kids. And if you need some extra motivation just remember, less clothing means less laundry. Whooo-hooooo!
- Less Waste: Notice what goes to waste after you go to the grocery store. Either make sure to incorporate meals so that all your food items are used or strike those off your grocery list so that you aren’t wasting food.
- Manage Unrealistic Expectations: Consider putting limits on the number of gifts you condition your kids to get used to receiving. Consider giving experience gifts as well as gifts that are useful. Although useful gifts may not be the most exciting ones your kids receive, you may be surprised how much they enjoy using it year after year.
- Encourage Quiet Time: This can be difficult for some younger kids but start doing this early with 3 or 5 minutes and watch their ability to sit in silence increase. They can play or read or color, but keep it quiet, silent almost. In today’s world, the ability to sit in silence comfortably is a real skill and for some people, the beginning of a sense of something bigger than themselves.
- Don’t Underestimate a Healthy Meal: My biggest regret is not feeding my kids vegetable focused meals when they were younger. If you haven’t started, truly limit how much sugar and processed foods your family eats and increase the amount of fiber, vegetables, and real food. See if you don’t notice a calmer difference in your mind space and your children’s mood.
- Go Slow: Purposely go slower. There is no need to rush all the time. Kids don’t feel the need to rush–which you are definitely aware of–and we usually force them to take on our hurried pressure instead of bending to their take-your-sweet-time mentality. Although this is sometimes necessary, it isn’t always. Intentionally adopt their pace of life and see what you notice about your stress.
Want more? There’s no wrong answers but why reinvent the wheel? Check out these related article on The Crazy Simple–9 Family Habits for Minimalists and Keeping Toys from Taking Over the World, for example– or check out these intentional living/minimalism writers.
Find Inspiration on these Minimalist Blogs
Joshua Becker @ becomingminimalist.com
Joshua Becker is one of the pioneers of the current minimalism movement. His blog, becoming minimalist, and YouTube Channel provides his audience with something to think over. His deep spirituality and minimalist family inspiration keeps me tuned in to his words. As a (huge!) bonus, there is no advertising on his blog! His posts and videos are good options for learning more about minimalism.
Here is a great video about what how minimalism shifted Joshua Becker’s life. He’s not a mom, but he is a parent, and the ways that minimalism improved his life inspires me to keep working at simplifying, simplifying, simplifying.
Christine Koh @ christinekoh.com
Christine Koh is a bit of a superwoman. Writing about minimalism in a book she co-authored, Minimalist Parenting, is just one of the many ventures she is involved in. She is a co-presenter on the podcast, Edit Your Life which focuses on how to kick out the stuff that isn’t working so you can make your life better.
Asha Dornfest@ ashadornfest.com
Asha was the co-host of Edit Your Life with Christine Koh. After many personal and societal changes, she shifted her focus and left Edit Your Life. She has books, podcasts, and other resources aligned with intentional living.
Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus @ theminimalist.com
Although the resources are not family-oriented per se, Joshua Millburn and Nicodemus present enlightening and interesting challenges and viewpoints that will prompt you to think–and possibly decide–differently. You’ll get many minimalist tips on all areas of life here.
Marie Kondo @ konmari.com
No doubt even the busiest moms have heard about Marie Kondo and her advice to keep what brings you joy. Her website is now a major shopping hub where you will also find classes and other resources available. She also has a section titled, stories, where you’ll find an array of information including the story, Kon Mari is not Minimalism.
Courtney Carver @ bemorewithless.com
Courtney is the creator of Project 333, a fantastic resource to help you curate a minimalist wardrobe and reduce the number of decisions you have to make. Her blog is thoughtful, deliberate, and worth your time.
Need Some Help?
If you’re ready to start intentional living through minimalism, congratulations! I honestly believe you and your family will benefit from the changes you make.
If you want to make sure you’re in the right headspace and discover what beliefs or thoughts might get in your way, I’ve got you covered. In my workbook, 5 Secrets for New Minimalists, we’ll walk through some of the areas that stop people in their tracks and talk about ways to overcome these obstacles. Grab it below.