Clutter appears on our calendars and to-do lists, leading to Pinterest perfection, fear of missing out, mindless scrolling, and constant discontent. Clutter is anything, good or bad, that distracts you from living a more meaningful and intentional life. What is the initial step? Less. When your family is tired, busy, and overwhelmed, the first step is almost always less. Minimalism isn’t just for the single, the college student, the baby boomers, and those who appear to live a simpler life than you. Minimalism is for everyone, especially for families, whether they are small or large. Families, too, require minimalism.
It’s Time to Relax.
Ellen Galinsky, the head of the Families and Work Institute, asked children in a survey of 1,000 families, “If you were granted one wish about your parents, what would it be?” Most parents expected their children to say spending more time with them, but they were mistaken. The kids’ top wish was for their parents to be less tired and stressed. According to studies, parental stress depletes children’s immune systems, weakens their brains, and increases their risk of obesity and mental illness, to name a few.
Becoming a minimalist family allows you and your children to let go of the things that are causing unnecessary stress in your family’s life.
It’s Time to Stop Doing Everything.
You’ll be drained if your family lives like an iPhone—always on, always connected, with an app for whatever needs to be done.
The desire to do more keeps our family doing more of the same—counting the things we do rather than doing the things that matter.
So, what if we start saying “no” to always being connected and always doing, and we respect each other’s right to do the same?
“The world our children are growing up in today isn’t just cluttered, it’s chaotic,” says a Family Wellness expert at Simple Families and author of the foreword to my new book. “Childhood stress and anxiety are on the rise as a result of the chaos.” Becoming a minimalist family provides you with the tools you need to filter out the clutter and chaos that is causing stress and anxiety in your child’s life. Isn’t that a noble cause?
It’s Time to Get Out of Debt.
And, by all accounts, many families are short on time. What is the most common short answer to the question, how are you? Busy. Tired. (Alternatively, both!) The world believes that a successful family has the perfect house, obedient and adorable children who excel in multiple extracurricular activities, and parents who do it all perfectly (as advertised) while climbing the career ladder flawlessly. Where does our successful-family-focus frequently lead us? We’re broke because we’re too busy working for things we won’t have time to enjoy. What are we doing? “Our goal is to raise our family spending more time pursuing status, possessions, and money and less time on relationships, contribution, purpose, or faith,” no family says. Unfortunately, many of us live this way, only to realize later how backward we were. Becoming a minimalist family allows you to see (and make time for) what is truly important.
It’s Time to Give Thanks.
Gratitude allows us to appreciate the worth of something as well as the things we already have. When you’re grateful, it’s difficult to want more things you don’t need. “I have more than enough,” gratitude sounds like. I’m going to distribute some more.” Perhaps the only thing we really need as a family is more gratitude.
It’s Time to Change Your Diet.
If you’re juggling the needs of others while living in clutter and overwhelm, your family’s diet is probably suffering. According to a recent study, participants who were in an orderly environment chose healthier snacks than those who were in a cluttered environment.
Now is the time to get organized.
According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, we spend one year of our lives looking for misplaced items. It’s past time to get organized for good! And I wholeheartedly agree with The Minimalists when they say, “The simplest way to organize your stuff is to get rid of most of it.” The truth is that most of us don’t have an organization problem; we have a problem with having too much stuff.
It’s Time to Improve Your Relationships.
Relationships are the foundation for living well, and healthy families are a necessary component of any healthy society. Our family is pivotal in teaching us how to connect with and contribute to society. Clutter and activity divert our attention away from the present moment. When you have a family, this means you are distracted from important family moments. When we spend too much time plugged into all the wrong connections, our relationships suffer.
Instead of pushing for change, discuss your goals for your simplicity journey. Talk about the benefits rather than the tasks. Decluttering is a chore, but having more space is a benefit. Debt repayment is a chore; freedom is a perk. What appeals to you about living with less? Please spread the word. Daydream about the possibilities that minimalism may offer. Use this new adventure to bring your family closer together.
Don’t expect everything to change overnight.
You did not create your current life overnight, and you will not create a new one overnight either. If you want to use minimalism to reduce stress, keep that in mind as you approach change. Rapid and abrupt change can be stressful. Change that is slow and steady is more sustainable. There is no need to rush.
Have fun with your big, beautiful life together.
Enjoy the journey as you take steps to simplify as a family. Living on less is not a sacrifice unless you choose to make it one. Use the time and space you’ve created to spend time with each other, explore new opportunities, and truly begin living. Live small in order to live large.
Everyone benefits from minimalist living, especially those of us with families. Giving up excess stuff is always a win because it gives us more time, space, and energy to pursue our purpose, passion, and meaningful connections with those we care about. Here’s to you and your family making room for what really matters. At home, in your head, and in your heart.