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My husband and I have always been drawn to a minimalist lifestyle, but once we had our daughter Essley, that sort of lifestyle began to feel less attainable as life in general became more complicated. Life became infinitely more wonderful too, of course – but it was suddenly much more challenging to keep things simple. Fast forward to today when we have two kids three and under, and it doesn’t take much for life to get overwhelming and cluttered (literally and figuratively). Through trial and error though, we’ve learned the best ways for us to live more simply as family with young kids. And today I’m excited to be teaming up with our friends at Crate Space to share how we’re doing it!
Before I share our tips with you, I want to add that building a minimalist lifestyle does not need to be an extreme change. Sometimes people think “minimalism” and imagine a super modern home with an all white interior and no decor, or a person dressed in black and white who doesn’t own a car and lives in a 100 square foot space, or someone who donated all her/his possessions and lives completely off the grid. And yes, sometimes that is what minimalism looks like. But for most people, it’s much less radical. We do live in a small home with simple decor, I do prefer neutral colors, and we don’t spend money on lavish things. But we own plenty of material possessions, sometimes spend money on extras we really don’t need (I have a daily coffee shop habit, for example), have cars/phones/a television (only one, but we still have one), and have busy, unpredictable schedules that can admittedly feel pretty chaotic. What we do aim for is living in a way that is a little slower, more intentional, and less excessive – and we do this by finding small ways to make our life simpler.
1. Reduce clutter, together. Essley and Emmett have watched their dad and I get rid of a lot of extra “stuff” over the past year, and more recently we’ve been trying to get them more involved too. They’ve accumulated an excessive ammount of toys and clothing, so we go through those items together and have Essley (Emmett isn’t quite old enough, but he’s learning) pick out things she doesn’t really use to donate. In order to avoid overwhelming them, we do this every month or so and just have them choose a few items at a time. In addition to teaching them about the importance of not needing a ton of material things, it also teaches them about giving to others.
2. Organize, together. At the beginning of the year I started noticing that Essley had art supplies (crayons, markers, coloring books, paper, paints, art kits, etc.) all over the house. So she and I went and got a few simple, inexpensive clear storage containers, pulled her art supplies out of the dozen different areas they were being stored, and organized them in the containers together. Neither my husband nor I are organized by nature (at all), and our kids don’t seem to be either, so organizing our possessions together as a family is a great way for all of us to learn and improve.
3. Buy small and simple. Minimalism is all about “less is more” – this can mean having less, spending less, and/or doing less. We admittedly have a lot of activities going on most of the time, so we make an effort to avoid unnecessary errands that eat up time and tempt up to buy more than we need. One of the biggest ways we do this is to purchase household items we need through Crate Space. Crate Space is a genuinely awesome way to keep shopping simple. You choose 5 household or personal care products of your choice from a wide selection of curated, name brand goods, pay $29.99 no matter which items you choose, and they quickly deliver them to your door with free shipping. We were out of a few random items last week so I hopped on the computer and in less than five minutes ordered them. In a couple of days, they arrived. In a simple, cost-effective manner, I was able to get things we really needed – Robbie’s razors, the kids’ toothpaste, dish soap, my facial cleanser, and lip balm – without over-shopping or buying large sizes of things for which we just don’t have the space. In the past we’d try subscription boxes for items like this, but we often ended up with products we didn’t need which defeated the purpose of living more simply. Crate Space has enabled us to buy simple and small, but getting only what we need, when we need it. (If you’d like to try Crate Space out yourself, use code BUBBY for $10 off your first crate!)
4. Focus on experiences rather than things. Let’s face it – it’s fun to by stuff for kids, especially when you’re a new parent. I’ll confess that during Essley’s first year, I probably bought her a gift every week, if not more often. These material things started accumulating quickly, which becomes a problem when you live in a small home like we do. It’s also overwhelming for kids when they have too many toys. Our first step was reducing (see #1). Our second step was to start focusing more on experiences rather than things. Part of the reason Robbie and I were never homeowners or had multiple cars before children was that we spent our money and time on traveling. Sometimes when I find myself going down the awful path of comparison where I look at how much more a friend may have than me, I think back to our two weeks in Australia or train journey in Europe and how experiences like that will remain with me far longer than a fancy car ever could. And I also think to smaller experiences, like taking the kids to the zoo or splash park or out hiking. Essley will talk about those experiences for weeks, whereas when she gets a new toy, she’ll often forget about it in a day or even within hours. Our motto these days to get only what we need (see #3) and to do instead.
5. Make time for downtime. As my regular readers know, my husband works for a band and is on the road in sporadic, broken up periods for half the year, and I work from home blogging and doing freelance design work. Our work schedules are unpredictable and complicated. Essley is in dance, soccer, and school (when it’s not summer), we take a family yoga class, and we have playdates with other families (and our friends too!). But every single night after dinner, we relax. It doesn’t matter if the house is messy or dishes need to be done or we have tasks that need immediate attention. We spend time together as a family, on the couch or at the table, reading books or just talking, without distractions. It’s a simple way to, well, be simple as a family. It’s the best.
Do any of you try to practice minimalist lifestyles? And those of you with kids, are there any other things you do in effort to live more simply with them?
Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cratespace.com.
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