Minimalism with Children: Embracing Simplicity Through Play
Posted on January 25 2023
Have you ever experienced that right after your child finishes watching their favorite movie, they want to watch it again, and again, and again?
It's because children love to repeat activities they enjoy. If one morning your child's first request upon waking up was a hug, it's almost certain that the next day they'll want a hug upon waking up again, and the day after that, and so on until the routine changes.
Quite often, as parents, we find ourselves in negotiation situations when a child wants to have all the toys they discover. In this sense, we know that minimalism with a child is complicated, but it is possible to achieve by gradually involving them in a minimalist lifestyle routine.
An important fact: a young child is capable of making important decisions for themselves and decides with a lot of conviction—what they like to do, which toy they want to spend their time with, what they'd like to eat, what clothes they want to wear.
Anyone with a child knows that being parents also means a lot of clothes, toys, coming and going in the car, school, school activities, and homework. For this reason, we've developed a series of tips for you to put into practice with your child the concept of "Less but Better."
Minimalism with children starting from play.
Embracing minimalism with children doesn't necessarily mean that your child will have only 3 toys or 4 changes of clothes, and that's it. We know it doesn't work like that with a child; it's simply about learning to enjoy more with less and quickly learning to let go of things we no longer use.
How to introduce a child to minimalism?
A meaningful way to introduce your child to minimalism is through play and their toys, learning that having more doesn't mean being more, and that material possessions don't bring us happiness.
Having many toys for your child isn't a problem. The problem is not learning to let go of them when they're no longer used and starting to accumulate objects.
"Having many toys isn't a problem; the problem is not learning to let go of them when they're no longer used."
One strategy we recommend is to talk with your child about which toy they would like to have. This isn't a one-time conversation; you need to ask them occasionally because it's very normal for a child to get excited about a new toy each time they discover one.
When they reflect on the toy they desire, they are also letting go of those they don't really want as much. This way, we achieve two things: your child keeps in mind what they do want and discards what they wanted but with less significance.
Practice a toy list with your child.
Make a list with your child of things that interest them and gradually eliminate those that are less interesting to them.
After the list, create another list of the toys they have and that they'll replace with new gifts.
Decide together what to do with those toys they will no longer use. They could donate them, give them to a family member, or dispose of them if they no longer work.
*This same approach can be applied to clothing or other items.*
Set a gift calendar.
Usually, a child receives many toys and clothes at Christmas or on the Feast of the Three Kings, and it often happens that 2 months later, the toy no longer works or is broken.
Instead of many gifts all at once, why not have a calendar of new toys your child will receive throughout the year?
You can create a meaningful calendar for your child:
Instead of receiving many gifts all at once once a year, try giving a smaller number of gifts but spread them out over 4 times a year.
Decide on important dates, for example: their birthday, Children's Day, Christmas or the Feast of the Three Kings, at the end of the school year.
Set aside toys your child is no longer using in a box, and a few days before or shortly after receiving the new gifts, get rid of the ones they no longer use; this doesn't mean throwing them away—if they still work, you could donate some to a children's home; there are surely many children who would be delighted and happy to receive new toys.
An interesting aspect is that children don't care whether a toy is new or used, at least when they're young, a toy holds the same value for them whether it's used or new. Have you noticed that your child continues to play with their favorite car even though it's missing 2 wheels and is chipped? Or that your daughter carries her doll everywhere even though it's missing some parts? Whether a toy is new or used is only an aspect that adults focus on, but it doesn't apply to a child.
Practice the 3 L's.
A methodology we've practiced as parents is the "three L's" rule when choosing a toy or gift:
Ludic. It's something they want.
Learning. It's something they need.
Last. It's something they'll use many times.
We hope these hacks truly help you initiate a minimalist and sustainable lifestyle with your child.