Parenting How To: Living Like a Minimalist With Kids
We spoke to Diane Boden, the creator and host of the Minimalist Moms podcast about ways to cut down on clutter. As a mom of three young children ages 4 months through five years--and a former shopaholic--Diane has learned how to embrace a life with less stuff.
How do you define living a minimalistic lifestyle?
Minimalist motherhood is all about intentionality. I don’t think there is a right/best way to practice. It's really about the intentional decrease. As mothers, we have so many roles we are juggling; minimalism allows us to center ourselves and come back to what we have deemed priority. We can feel lighter and less taxed because we already have drawn our lines. Don’t necessarily aim for minimalism but instead aim to get rid of what’s superfluous.
How does decluttering help the wellbeing of a family?
It shifts your priorities to what is most important - experiences/time together over things. Things lose the interest/excitement. Experiences/memories last forever.
What brought you to this place in your life of living without clutter?
I was quite the opposite of a minimalist in my late teens/early twenties. I was someone that needed a new outfit each time I attended church (at least a new top.) I hated wearing the same combination of clothing more than once every couple of months. I wanted the newest, shiniest things. I actually got myself into a bit of credit card debt before I even turned twenty-one. Who I am at thirty-one is remarkably different - of which I somewhat attribute to age but mostly to my pursuit of minimalism. If we’re talking about a moment that led me to minimalism, I’d say 1) my husband and 2) an actual moment in my parents basement when my husband looked around at all of the boxes and stated, "Look at all of these things that are now in boxes that were once your dad's hard-earned working hours." That moment really allowed us to hone in on what was important to us and where we wanted to spend our money and intention.
You have some great minimalist mom tips on your insta - what are your top 10 faves?
I wouldn't say these are in any specific order but they are some of my favorites!
1) Quality Over Quantity [As much as you can!]
2) Start decluttering in the bathroom. Less attachment to items in there. Easier to part with these things.
3) Create lists in your phone for: groceries, birthday/holiday gifts, Christmas cards to send, goals - anything! These are such helpful reminders and a great space for a 'brain dump.'
4) Delete photos from your phone at the end of each day. This makes sure that digital clutter doesn't build up.
5) Set up a weekly meal schedule: Monday - Spaghetti; Tuesday - Tacos; Wednesday - Crockpot; Thursday - Soup/Baguette; Friday - Dinner Out/Something Easy; Saturday - Breakfast for Dinner; Sunday - Protein + Starch + Veg (SIMPLE!)
6) Detox your social media feed. Follow only people that inspire you and encourage you in your core values, pursuits!
7) Just say NO to FREEBIES! T-shirts/water bottles/etc - chances are you wouldn't use them anyway!
8) Arrange a toy swap with a fellow mom to temporarily trade toys. Even your kiddos old toys will feel new when they return!
9) Curb the shopping 'I wants' by making a list of the 'I needs' before you shop.
10) Never take unsold items back after a garage sale. Donate immediately. Also, keep a box in the garage/car that you can take to donate as soon as it's filled.
What are your hard and fast rules in terms of acquiring new stuff?
For kid's toys, we always do one in and one out. If my kids want something at the store, we take a photo of it and keep it in the notes app of my phone. If someone is asking what to get for birthday/Christmas, I will go through this list and tell them something from there.
Do you have any favorite apps or online tools that can help with decluttering or organizing?
I love the site: unroll.me for helping declutter your email inbox. Honestly, the basic iPhone notes app is one I use EVERYDAY!
What do you recommend for moms who want to practice minimalism around their kids' birthdays?
We always do NEED/WANT/WEAR/READ for all holidays/birthdays. Also, I utilize Amazon lists and send them to family members prior to holidays - saying something simple like, "Hey, we are trying to be more intentional about what we bring into our home. We never expect gifts; however, if you'd like to gift our littles, check out this list!" Another thing for birthdays: Send other kiddos home with a treat or a craft they can do. The other parents are probably happy you're not sending home a bunch of plastic/breakable toys with their children. Don't give a gift just because 'you have to'; have a gift that you don't really care about. I would say if you're not intentional about it, don't do anything. It's just not worth your time, not worth your money.
How can moms get their kids on the minimalistic bandwagon without being a nag?
Leading by example is so important here. If I'm asking my daughter to simplify her life - purging old toys, saying no to toys each time we're at the store - but I'm regularly saying 'yes' to myself, she'll notice! Encourage them as you are making simplifications of your own.
Any other tips/tricks/thoughts regarding minimalism you want to share?
Don't compare yourself to minimalists you see on social media. It's so easy to think you're doing it 'wrong,' but I truly believe there isn't such a thing. If you're ridding your life of excess, you're on your way. Minimalism really does look different for everyone and I think we can use a quote from William Morris, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." That's definitely a mantra to live by!