I write a lot about the topic of minimalism, coming from the perspective of a wife and mother, so naturally I receive a lot of questions about children in regards to minimalism. In fact, these questions are probably the ones I get asked most frequently.
Narrowing down that topic even further, I am often asked how to approach minimalism with a sentimental child.
Children are tough, man. They tend to be far more sentimental than us because they are learning and growing and really living life in slow motion.
Don’t you dare throw away that photo I drew you when I was two years old mom! Am I right?
Thankfully, while it may be difficult at times, there are things you can do to help your sentimental child let go of items and live a more minimal, intentional life.
Watch the video below or continue scrolling to read my tips:
- Offer alternatives – offer your child an experience as opposed to a physical gift. Take something your child is passionate about and find a way to foster that passion with a hands on approach. Personally, I have a son that loves to learn. He could spend all day reading about dinosaurs and rocket ships. My husband and I have made it a point to start planning trips to the NASA Space Center and museums with hands on activities to learn about dinosaurs. It will be an experience he never forgets that will far exceed a toy that he will lose interest in a few days later.
- Have an ongoing conversation – As parents, we should constantly remind our children how blessed they are and remind them about children who are not as fortunate. While we should never make our children feel guilty for what they have, it’s important to encourage them to pass their items on to another child when they decide they are done with an item.
- Allow her to take photos of her favorite items – Depending on your child’s age you can store these photos on their personal device, or your own. If you have a clutter-free way to display them, that’s okay too! Sometimes it’s harder for a child to let go of the memory of something rather than the item itself. A picture can be a good way to help them continue to enjoy something without it taking up space in the home.
- Appeal to personality traits – Many children are naturally tidy. Others crave responsibility. While others are extremely sympathetic and compassionate. Use these personality traits to your advantage. Explain why keeping only the items they truly, deeply value will help keep them in alignment with their natural tendencies.
- If you can’t remove, don’t contribute more – Unfortunately there are going to be some children who are more sentimental and stubborn than the average child. In this extreme case, focus less on removing things from the home, and more on avoiding bringing in additional items. Eventually your child will phase out of interest with certain items and in the meantime you can cut down on further clutter.
- Involve her in charity – Sometimes it takes a child a hands on experience to realize what is important and what is not. Join your child in participating with charitable organizations. Helps hand out gifts during the Holidays. Assist your neighbors after a storm or charity. Doing so will help enforce the gift of giving as opposed to receiving.
- Utilize a boxing method – this one can be tricky, but it’s worth it. Slowly begin to box up items that your child hasn’t used in the last month or two. Put those items away in a place in your home where your child will not see it. If your child randomly asks for one of those items, pull the box back down and give it to them. Here’s the tricky part though. Be careful with your words. Let your child know that you were storing these items in a special spot to keep them safe. Otherwise your child may suspect you are throwing away their belongings and will feel tricked and betrayed. If she does not ask for these items back, it is up to you how long you decide to store these items before donating them.
And there you have it!
At the end of the day, intentionalism is taught. I would love to say we learn it naturally, but we are constantly being exposed to advertisement that encourages us to desire the latest and greatest thing.
I’m off to run the dogs around the yard! See ya next time.