Is it easy explaining minimalism to your children?
Nope. It’s not.
BUT…I think because of my character, passion to help others learn, my educational background and my philosophy in teaching, it doesn’t seem impossible to try. I never tell them that this is going to be something they have to adopt. I just want them to learn the principles and let them decide for themselves if they feel like this is a path they want to join me and my hubby on.
How did we start? Well…they participated in the big conversations we had, they watched documentaries, we listened to podcasts (the practical minimalists and the minimalists), we had discussions and reflected through art and writing and when we started to pare down our things, they were included in that process.
I have three boys.
My fifteen-year-old has a better understanding and grasps the concepts of why it would be beneficial to live a more minimalist lifestyle. We have always encouraged him to think outside the box. When we started the move towards this lifestyle, he took interest right away.
He came around to it on his own when he was ready. A few months ago he came down with a bag full of clothing for donation. Completely on his own, he decided he didn’t need all the clothing he had, most of which he had outgrown anyway, and that he wanted to work on a simple capsule wardrobe. Interesting….
As for his room, when we went through the moving process, he donated or got rid of a ton of things he was holding onto like, books, DVD’s, pictures, art, school stuff, and toys.
Next year, at this time, our fifteen-year-old will be filling out applications to University or College. We have had many conversations about doing something that he will love as opposed to something that will give him a lot of income. Through his business courses in high school and our conversations following books and podcasts we listened to; he has decided (completely on his own) that saving money and not spending it on useless items was a good way to live. For example, did he really need a car at 16? the cost of the car, the insurance, the gas….why? For what purpose when we lived in a city with great transportation.
He also has been thinking about starting to save now for a house or condo. I know what you are thinking…that’s crazy! being only 15, well 16 in a month, and saving for a house?Personally, I admire his thinking and I think it is smart. I wish my parents would have encouraged me to do the same.
Lucky for him, we have been putting money away for his education. Had we not, student loans wouldn’t be an option. We discussed how he could easily save $10,000 a year during his 3 years of high school and that that would cover his tuition for his post-secondary. (this is something he also picked up after listening to the minimalist podcast – episode 98) However, we got the school tuition covered through monthly RESP contributions, so instead of saving for school, he’s saving for a home – smart kid.
Then there are the principles of investing in real friendships that add value. We encourage him often to reevaluate his relationships and we encourage him to hold onto friendships that add value to his life. Investing in real relationships have helped him choose good friends. Friends that we can trust, which is important to us as parents, that he has good people in his inner circle. He isn’t interested in the social limelight or the need for attention that most teens find themselves wrapped up in at his age. I credit all this to the hard work the hubby and I have put in as his parents, but more so to the young man he is growing into and the decisions he’s been making.
My two tiny humans…
My middle son is nine. He sorta gets it…My youngest is five and he didn’t get it until I actually wrote a story and made some drawings to go along with it. I know what you are thinking, that was such a teacher thing to do, but hey, it worked!
honestly, I think what helped my two younger boys really understand the concept of minimalism was to show them. Whenever I tackled a new project I included them in the process. We talked about the steps and letting go of things we didn’t need. Where our stuff would go and how it would help another family if we donated it or sold it.
It became much more real for them when we applied these rules to their toys. Together we tackled the years and years of toys we had accumulated. Sure enough, by seeing me and how I paired down my closet, our kitchen, our kick knacks and hand me downs; by the time we got to their stuff, they were experts.
Now we have a rule, If they get something new – something old has to go from their current collection of gadgets and toys.
Here is where we are. My boys don’t have a ton of toys or the latest gadgets but I have to admit they spend a lot of time playing with what they do have. They also spend a lot of time together out in the green space playing and using their imagination. I can hear them playing make belief; pirates, monsters, and captains of their own adventures.The kind of play that allows them to engage in self-expression, act out their knowledge and share their emotions. The kind of play we did as kids. I encourage them to feel their boredom and to figure it out. They do.
So back to our main question…Children and minimalism? I think children are brilliant. I think that they are much more able to adapt to new things. I think that if you show them and include them, they will learn. Have them participate! Have conversations and listen to podcasts or watch documentaries with them. I can’t promise that they will be into it or grow up to be minimalists, they might not, but I don’t see any harm in including them and introducing them to the ideas of minimalism.
till the next post,