Minimalist Mom: Living Happily with Less Stuff

Becoming a Minimalist Mom is easier said than done. The journey of raising children seems to often be the journey of accumulating stuff – everything from toys, clothes, collectibles, and memorabilia. As the babies turn to toddlers, we keep baby gear, clothes, and toys with hopes of having a second child. The second child comes and, of course, we use many of the things we already own, but the grandparents, aunts, and friends lovingly pile on the gifts for the first baby and the second baby. This is only the beginning of the journey of accumulating stuff. That is unless you stand strong and become a Minimalist Mom.

Obstacles to Becoming a Minimalist Mom

Minimalist Mom: Living Happily With Less Stuff

But even those who stand strong and declare that they will be a Minimalist Mom no matter what face obstacles that jump in your way trying to keep you from becoming a Minimalist Mom. Or does that just happen to me? Am I the only one that continually has obstacles jump in front of me as I try to become a Minimalist Mom? The closets are full and the garage is a mess.

Read More: How to Downsize to a Smaller Home: The Painless Way to Live a Minimalist Lifestyle

Kids of all ages seem to accumulate stuff. Toys, trinkets, art supplies, school papers, and more. Then there is the “stuff” kids bring home like a cool stick they believe to be a magic want, beautiful rocks, and unique seashells. And, clothing – it’s never-ending because they are constantly growing. It’s a never-ending feat to only keep clothes that actually fit your child at any given time in the closet and dresser drawers. And, if you have more than one child, it’s a balancing act to keep clothes for the younger ones, to get them out at the right time so child No. 2 and No. 3 are able to wear them.  

Minimalist Mom: Living Happily With Less Stuff

Grandparents often can be an obstacle in becoming a minimalist mom, too. Grandparents want to give gifts to their grandchildren all of the time. Many like to spoil their grandchildren, which can lead to excess stuff. How many Scrunchies and pairs of earrings does your tween really need? How many toy dinosaurs should your preschooler have to use his imagination to the fullest?

If you are blessed to live near your children’s grandparents, they often declare it their right to spoil your children. They enjoy giving your kiddos a toy, a book, an outfit, or a trinket every week or two. Some grandparents enjoy taking the grandkids to the dollar store so then when your kiddo comes home, she comes with a full load of precious hand-picked treasures from the dollar store. It’s almost impossible to tell a doting grandparent not to share the joy of giving with their grandchildren. So, what do you do? How do you make sure your home does not become cluttered? How do you stand strong as a Minimalist Mom?

Minimalist Mom: Living Happily With Less Stuff

Another obstacle in becoming a minimalist mom is volunteering as a Scout leader or Sunday school teacher. As a new volunteer when your children are young, you welcome donations of art supplies, camping equipment, sports equipment, and office supplies – basically anything and everything you could use to lead a children’s program as a volunteer.

But as your children grow up, and you continue to volunteer, your stash of art supplies seems to never diminish. Friends, neighbors and family members know you are a volunteer extraordinaire in several children’s organizations and happily gift you donations of leather scraps, beads, and whatnot. Again, it’s not like you can say, “no,” after all, you are leading a youth program with 10 to 50 children as a volunteer oftentimes without a budget. And, you know that full week of camp is coming up, so you just might need a few more beads or markers or extra ribbon. Right?

Steps to Becoming a Minimalist Mom

Minimalist Mom: Living Happily With Less Stuff

My journey, like many of you, to become a Minimalist Mom is ongoing. I seem to donate a box or two each week, sometimes only once a month, to the local church thrift store. To become a Minimalist Mom, you need to declutter and organize. Oh, those words… declutter and organize. It sounds like work.

Like most of you, I understand that decluttering is the process of getting rid of excess, and removing items from the home that are no longer needed. Organization is finding the right spot in the home for each of the items that you love and need. Remember our homes, have a finite space – I keep reminding myself and my children of that – our home has a finite space between its four walls. We have to realize when enough is enough.

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Think twice before moving excess “stuff” or old toys to the garage with thoughts that you might want it later. The garage often becomes the place where things go to die. For example: If you move your traditional coffee pot to the garage after getting a new Keurig, thinking you might make a pot of coffee when you have company – think again. Most of us find the Keurig works just fine when hosting a dinner party, too. The old coffee pot sits in the garage taking up space until the carafe is knocked down and broken. Sound familiar?

To make sure your children do not accumulate too much stuff, you can establish a Memory Box for each child and yourself. You can place small toys, artwork, photos, even a pressed flower or two in the box – anything you want to keep. When the box gets full, do not immediately add a second Memory Box. Take the time to sort through the box, something you or your children thought was a treasure 3 years ago, sometimes just 3 months ago, may not be considered a treasure today. It just might be on the purge list.

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As for excess toys, clothing, and stuff, sift through everything each season – four times a year. The easiest way is to teach your children, the joy of giving. Donate unwanted toys and clothing that are in good condition to those in need. Most of us cannot stop those doting grandparents but you can teach your children the difference between wants and needs.

Minimalist Mom: Living Happily With Less Stuff

Ask them about how a clean and tidy room makes them feel versus one where excess toys or clothes are spilling about. As my daughter has gotten older, she still enjoys those trips to the big box stores with Grandma but she is more selective on what she brings home since she is learning to enjoy a clean bedroom.

For those of you who are volunteers, especially in organizations like Girl Scouts, the key is keeping the paperwork, art supplies, and donations to the troop to a minimum. It is OK to say, “no thank you, we do not need donations at this time.” Keep tabs on other leaders, community organizations, or after-school programs that could use donations of art supplies, office supplies, or sports equipment and pass the donations along. If volunteers work together in a community, more children benefit. We have learned that for us if the Scout donations do not fit in the garage closet, then it is too much for us to keep at our house. You have to know when to say when.

It’s a tough road becoming a Minimalist Mom if you did not start out that way. It’s hard not to have the “what if I need it someday mentality.” But, once you start enjoying living with less, it’s so much better. No excess toys strewn about. No stacks of papers. No explosion of clothes. No pairs of shoes that are not being worn. When I feel overwhelmed with decluttering and organization, I stop and remember, that a little at a time is how it gets done. One thing, one task, one moment at a time.

Photo Credits: Unsplash, Pexels, Pixabay

Check out Daily Mom’s article, “Helping Children With Organization and Time Management,” for more advice, tips, and tricks.

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Minimalist Mom: Living Happily With Less Stuff
Carla J. Eskew
Carla J. Eskew
Carla J. Eskew is a freelance writer, wife, and mom of two children who are nine years apart. She is a Scout leader with 17 years of experience in Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. She serves as a volunteer at school, church, and with the homeless population. She loves road trips, sightseeing, camping, Pilates, and her black standard poodle, Midnight Shadow.

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