Stop drowning in toys! Learned how to be a minimalist Mom
Moms, take a deep breath (In this blog, please accept "mom" for both mom and dad, and "spouse" for partners). You are not alone in feeling that you’re drowning in toys, books, and clothes. As a mom of now two successful grown adults, I am right there with you and get your frustrations.
A bit about my parenting background. I had a career in my early twenties, but chose to stay at home with two kids, starting when I was twenty-eight years old, and thirty one when my second child was born. I managed to I eek out a bit of freelance work to keep me connected to the professional world, but my highest priority was my kids and family.
Now about the mountains of toys, books, and clothes that are threatening an avalanche whenever you’re reaching for one, or your feeling of drowning in piles of clothes that you can’t find what you need? Yup, I get what you’re going through as well because I’ve been there, and today, I’m going to share with you my lessons learned, so you can reclaim your life.
Lesson 1: Minimalism is a Way of life and a Journey. You will start seeing tangible results and benefits, if you practice it daily
So let’s take another deep breath, and say to yourself, “I’m not alone and my struggles are real.”
I’m not going to lie to you and say that it’s going to be all fine and different in one day. But what I will say to you is that it is a way of life and you will reclaim your sanity once you start practicing it daily. You will feel a sense of progress, see the results, witness the transformation, and know that it can be done, that it’s a life journey.
Lesson 2: Minimalism is not about being perfect, it’s about daily practice to reclaim your sanity and space
From now on, your mantra will be, “I’m OK with not being perfect”, because Rome wasn’t built in one day.
Just like everything else that moms like you and I do for your families, and even with our best effort, we practice daily budgeting, grooming, cooking, working, and exercising right? But It’s all a constant juggling act and a lot of times we drop the balls. This is not a deal breaker. Just pick them up and continue juggling. Nobody gets it right 100% of the time. If they say they do or have the appearance that they do, I’d say something eventually gives, as we are not perfect human beings, and we cannot do everything to our highest standards, even when we give our best effort. The sooner we accept this fact, the sooner we can move on to practicing minimalism.
Pro-tip: I used to be one of those moms that people hated because I had the appearance that I was handling things so well. Let me tell you a secret, it had an incredibly high cost and my marriage once crept to a near catastrophic precipice.
So please, I urge you: Make your family parents-centric, not children-centric.
Run your family with your marriage (or partnership) in mind. Lay down the rules for your kids to follow and keep your marriage heathy. Remember why you fell in love with your spouse.
So why am I telling you this? Because I want you to be strong and patient with a noble purpose through this process of minimalism, especially with your children’s toys, books, and clothes, so you can reclaim your sanity, time, and space for yourself and spouse. Mostly, I want you to have some peace and relaxation so you can nurture yourself, and subsequently your marriage. Remember, “Happy Wife-Happy Life.”
Lesson 3: Patience and Start Small
Take another deep breath and say, “I accept myself and will be patient with my progress.”
Pro-tip: Don’t pick the most difficult area to work on. For me, it was family photos. Choose an area each day and set the timer for 30 minutes to work on when the kids are napping or in school. The point here is to get into the habit of sorting and categorizing what to keep, give away, sell, or trade with friends. This method goes for all items in your house so have marked containers for the process.
- Start Here: Use my self-pace, 30 minute a day, 30-day Minimalist Challenge to start your process that gives you a task to do everyday. It’s a printable EBooklet that you can print and post on the fridge to stay on track and motivated.
- Supplemental 1: You can use the 557 Minimalist Challenge List where you get rid of 5 items in each of the 5 categories in 7 days. For example, get rid of 5 items under the kitchen sink, 5 in your personal care drawer, 5 in your undies/socks drawer, etc.
- Supplemental 2: Get checklist for 5 Minimalist Maintenance Hacks to keep you on track and in the mindset of minimalism, such as, if you must buy one item then give away two of the same kind so you don’t add more things to your household. One new pair of shoes? Out with two!
Lesson 4: Designate an active toy space
Remember that you are the adult and don’t need your kid’s approval, but open communication about what you’re doing will give them an understanding of your purpose while getting their involvement and buy-ins. So talk with your children about what you are doing, if they’re old enough to understand. Explain the benefits such as:
- They can find the toys they love and play with the most
- They’ve outgrown their toys
- They have many of the same toys
- They no longer love the toys nor play with them
- Share toys with less fortunate children
- Designate an “active” toy space for each kid with only currently played with toys. Choose the size and area that is manageable to you. Sit down and work with the child on what they currently and actively play with, and these toys can stay in this space
- Have a box of toys seldom played with but your child wants to keep. Take a picture, date it, and tape it on the outside. If they’re not missed after 3 months then give them away
- Please don’t hide or get rid of their toys secretly. Children need to know that they have security, honesty, and trust with their parents. I remember looking for my favorite shoes when I was four years old, asking my mom to help me find them, but to no avail. I am not sure what happened to them, but I still haven’t forgotten about them today!
Lesson 5: Designate a reachable and active book shelf
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- Designate a reachable bookshelf filled with currently loved books for the children
- Choose the library option and avoid a permanent collection at home
Pro-tip: I love books and this was difficult for me to get rid of. My realization that I don’t re-read most of my books made it easier for me to give them to the local libraries, or charities where they will make money from my books. Think of it as you have gotten the utility out of what you’ve paid for, and now share these items for others to enjoy as you once did
Lesson 6: Designate reachable clothes drawers (if age appropriate)
- Designate reachable drawers or closet with currently loved and worn clothes for the children
- Choose the amount of clothes for them, or with them, that you’re comfortable with as a starter
- Continue to monitor and sort items to give away, sell, or trade. Involve and teach the children of your process so they can learn about minimalism
Lesson 7: Designate areas of responsibility & accountability
- Finally, teach kids to put away their toys, books, and clothes (provide hamper for their use) at the end of each day before dinner
- If they received a new toy, book, or clothes, ask them to give away at least one like item
- If they can’t fit the toys, books, or clothes back in the designated area, it’s time to give something away
Not only you’re keeping kid’s toys, books, and clothes from taking over your life, you’re role modeling for them to practice minimalism at a young age. Now that is something to feel very good about, so take a deep breath, pour yourself a cup of tea, and know that you can start small and will conquer this chaos with daily practice.
Rest assured that you are not alone. So start by getting my free printable Ebooklet on Intro to Minimalism, and get invited to our private Facebook called Minimalist Me, an intimate and thoughtful group of mostly moms, where we support each other in this journey.
Let me know how these lessons help with your journey, and if you have any successful hacks to add and share with other parents. Here’s a related article to read on Here's to How to get your kids to love being Minimalists.
As always, I invite you to engage with me on my website and social media:
Facebook: https://facebook.com/beingchi (Author Page)
With warmest regards