It’s a trap. From the registry all the way to high school. And trying to avoid it seems nearly impossible. From the moment moms find out they’re pregnant, it begins! The baby registry complete with every chair for every situation to a bottle that comes with five different parts to prevent a colicky baby. Next thing you know your house is filled with two-rooms worth of stuff for one little bundle that doesn’t even weigh 10 pounds. It seems nearly impossible to be a minimalist AND a Mom! However, if you’re a mom of two, by now you’ve figured out that more than half the stuff you got for the first child is completely unnecessary. I mean, think about it, our parents didn’t have a Boppy to lay us in and we survived just fine with wipes that weren’t warmed up for our butts. But goodness, whether it’s something your playdate Mom-friend highly recommends or it’s something we see advertised, there’s just this impulse to buy it and try it! And it continues through every stage of raising a child.
Unfortunately, for a Lifestyle expert, this stuff is what I’m always trying to help my clients prioritize. And equally as important, trying to teach their children how to live in a clean and organized environment. Research supports the fact that children who study and live in an organized space tend to do much better. In fact, a recent study even encourages teachers not to clutter their classrooms with student artwork, murals and pictures on the walls. The study produced by Psychological Science shows that the clutter on the walls distracts a student’s ability to focus and they spend more time off-task and in the end demonstrated smaller learning gains. I whole-heartedly believe this translates into the home as well.
So how do we master becoming a minimalist as a Mom?
- Let’s talk about how to show LOVE: We often compound our clutter with more clutter when we buy our children gifts to show them love. Whether it’s for making a good grade or for holidays, we teach our children about materialism. Consider the money that is wasted on little gifts. Instead buy the “experience” – tickets to a movie, trip to the zoo or even a special picnic in the park. Encourage friends and family to do the same when it comes time for birthdays and other holidays. Gift cards but in the end – they just buy more stuff! But movie cards and tickets for an experience are even better! Cut down on the clutter by changing the mindset of how to show your children love.
- Teach children to be socially responsible: I’ve talked about this before and I truly believe it helps children understand how fortunate they are to have the things they have. The easiest way is to create two piles in the middle of their bedroom or their playroom. One is for “donate” and one is for “keep.” Encourage your children to go through all of the things in the room and place everything in one of the piles. Take it to the next level by allowing your children to help you bag it up and take it to a second-hand store so they understand how they are helping someone in need.
- Borrow and return: Instead of being potentially financially wasteful or adding to the chaotic clutter in your home, consider borrowing something from a friend you’re looking to buy. This allows you to try it out before you commit and add to the pile. The key here is making sure you return the item in the same condition (or better) than you received it!
- Sometimes it’s okay to re-gift! Look at it this way – you’re paying it forward. If your child receives a gift they aren’t likely to play with or already have, find a storage place for these items. This can be the stash you need for a last minute gift or even for special donations when the school is looking for angel tree gifts. Re-gifting doesn’t have to be frowned upon! (Just make sure you don’t re-gift it back to its original gift giver! Now THAT would be bad!)
It’s never too early (or too late) to teach your child organizational skills. When they adapt to the process they will by nature become more of a minimalist. After all, who wants to constantly organize 20 pairs of shoes when they’re really only wearing three? After a while, they’ll prefer to donate what they don’t use. ADDED BONUS: You’ll also find you aren’t buying things to replace lost items since the items are much easier to find when they’re organized!
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