Last Updated on March 5, 2021 by Katie Barton
And don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty of that in the world of minimalism.
However, the demographic that benefits the most from minimalism is families.
And if that thought scares you – don’t let it. It doesn’t mean selling all your stuff and living in a home with white walls. (Unless you’re into that.)
In fact, it doesn’t mean anything extreme.
Family minimalism can help you live a more intentional life, save you money, and help you save hours and hours of time cleaning up.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Our Family Minimalism Story
As a young mom, I was naturally pretty tidy. I lived in a small house and didn’t allow a ton of stuff to make its way inside.
I wasn’t a minimalist, but I didn’t have much trouble with clutter or organizing.
When my two youngest kids were five and seven, we moved from a 1,100 square foot home to a big log cabin that, when counting all finished spaces, is around 3,000 square feet.
When our home increased in size, so did our possessions.
Keeping the house clean and tidy all the time started to get more challenging, but yet, I just spent more time doing it and kept it up.
Fast forward to 2017, when I gave birth to my third daughter. Since she was my third kid, I thought the baby years would be a walk in the park – I was so SO wrong.
She ended up being a very hard-to-care-for baby with horrible sleep patterns despite giving my best efforts to correct them.
I suffered from extreme postpartum anxiety, and for the first year and half of her life, I was in survival mode.
Keeping the house clean and organized was the last of my worries.
And the house spiraled out of control. The mess and the amount of STUFF was suffocating and only added to my level of anxiety.
But still, I was always too tired to do anything about it.
I Decided I Needed Minimalism
After finally coming to grips with the state of my mental health and the state of my house, I decided that it was time to do something about it.
I was in a state of overwhelm by how bad things had gotten, so I decided I would go through my house room by room, section by section, getting rid of all the things I didn’t need. I wouldn’t worry about any other areas of the house except the one I was working on.
For example, when I was working on the kitchen, I did it in sections: Tupperware, pots and pans, junk drawer, pantry, etc. I only focus on the “section” I had assigned myself.
It took me a few months to accomplish, but all those little sections added up and transformed my home.
Going through this process vastly improved my mental health. There were no piles of clutter sitting around, weighing me down. And, I no longer had to worry about a mile-long house-cleaning to-do list.
Minimalism is an excellent solution for any mom or family who wants to feel lighter mentally and make space for things in life that **actually** matter.
How to Get Your Family on Board with Minimalism
One of the most common questions I get is, “how do you get everyone on board with family minimalism?”
And here’s how:
Don’t Label It – Explain It
When you decide that minimalism is right for your family, you don’t need to announce to your husbands and kids – “we’re going to be minimalists now!”
This will only lead to resentment and downright refusal.
Instead, explain what you’re hoping to achieve.
I would tell the family something on the lines of this – “I’d like to start going through the house and get rid of all the items we don’t use or love anymore. This way, there’s less for me to clean, and we all aren’t surrounded by stuff we don’t even like.”
You can also talk about some of the other benefits like:
- Being able to quickly get ready in the morning because they can find exactly what they need.
- Being able to clean their room quicker.
- Having more money to spend on experiences.
- Being able to think clearer.
- Being surrounded only by things they love.
Lead By Example
Start by decluttering your kitchen or your bedroom. Let your kids see how the process works and how it makes the room feel and look better.
After they see you doing it, you can ask – would you like to do this to your room, too?
Most kids will be happy to oblige.
For those kids who still aren’t sold on the idea, save their room for last and let them lead the decluttering process.
Never Force Family Members to Get Rid of Items They Love
Minimalism is about being surrounded only by things that are useful, needed, or loved.
What you find useful can be completely different than what your husband or kids find useful. Never make your husband or kids part with an item they aren’t ready to part with.
Does this mean that your house might not be quite as “minimal” as you like?
Sure, it does. But your relationships with your family are more important than that.
Practical Tips for Getting Started with Family Minimalism
Related: Kid’s Bedroom Tour
Work in Zones
The number one thing you should do to prevent overwhelm when you’re getting started is to work in zones.
Don’t think about your entire house!
Focus only on the area you’re currently decluttering.
Here are some examples of zones to work on:
- One kid’s clothing and shoes
- Your jeans
- Haircare products
- Toys (or a specific kind of toys)
- Pots and pans
- Pantry items
The most efficient way to go through your stuff is to pick your “zone” and put everything from that zone in one place so you can see what you own.
For instance, if you’re decluttering books, don’t declutter room by room. Instead, put ALL of your books from every room into one pile and then go through them.
Start by Letting go of the “Easy Stuff”
When you first start decluttering, there are two categories you’ll be confident about: the stuff that’s easy to let go of and the stuff you love. It’s the belongings that fall somewhere in the middle that require the most contemplation.
If you need the motivation to get started, go around your home and get rid of the stuff you know you’re ready to let go of. That’ll motivate you to make some of the more challenging decisions.
Quit Bringing Stuff Into Your Home
Related: Master Bedroom Tour
While you’re decluttering your house, it’s a good idea to set a shopping ban. This way, you won’t be bringing new items into your home and further cluttering it up.
Also, a shopping ban can help you reset your spending habits.
I recommend going for at least 30 days without spending money on items other than essentials. Essentials include regular bills, groceries, and personal care items like shampoo and deodorant.
Be Consistent but Don’t Rush It
When you look at pictures of minimalist homes or watch inspiring YouTube videos, you’ll probably be ready to have your entire house minimalized…now.
Unfortunately, decluttering is usually a slow, intentional process.
It takes most people a minimum of 3-4 months to thoroughly go through their homes.
Don’t get impatient – make a plan and work the plan. Little by little, you’ll transform your home.
Family Minimalism – It’s Worth It
If you’re stressed out, sick of cleaning, and over the amount of stuff in your home, I encourage you to give family minimalism a try.
It can help you simplify your house and spend your time and money where it matters.
Katie Barton is the owner of Cabin Lane. She's also a home improvement writer for Bob Vila and Homedit. Her cleaning and organizing advice has been featured on Realtor.com, Yahoo News, GoBankingRates, and more. In her spare time, you can find her with a paintbrush in hand, searching for her next project.