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Minimalism is growing by leaps and bounds. So many of us who grew up with more are looking for a life with less. Not less quality, just less quantity.
We have the chance to offer this to our children as well. I’d like to suggest, in fact, that they are in desperate need of minimalism. Here are six reasons why:
More Family Time
Instead of our kids buried in a pile of toys or having a long list of cleaning chores to help around the house, kids can enjoy time with their family. This is something that so many families want but can’t see that their stuff is what is stopping them from attaining it.
With fewer things to play with and take care of, kids can be more active. This includes playing outside as well as healthy activities that encourage exercise.
Helping around the house is imperative to raising kids who will be a productive part of the world we release them into. When we offer our children a minimalist home, they can spend less time picking up their toys and instead, learn life skills that they will use long after they leave our home. They can use their time to learn how to make meals, do laundry and clean bathrooms.
Choose Experience Over Stuff
A main goal of minimalism is to value experiences over things. This is such a gift for our children. Consider the incredible blessing of, instead of mound of gifts under the Christmas tree, a trip to Disneyland for the whole family. I bet your 8 year old will remember that trip even as an adult, compared with his trying to recall the gifts he got that year. When we choose to buy our kids less stuff, we can spend our time and money on experiences that will grow our relationship with them and give them lasting memories.
If kids are always given toys that determine the rules, the look of something and are used in a specific way, they may not get to practice as much creativity or imagination as they otherwise would have. Kids have a knack for playing for hours in the dirt and coming up with all sorts of amazing stories and games. Their brains learn so much through this free time of imaginative play.
Model Conscious Consumerism
When we decide to purchase very intentionally, we model conscious consumerism. We show our children that it matters what we spend our money on. We can also show them the basic tenants of minimalism that encourage one to only surround themselves with that which they find beautiful or useful. Living this way helps us to think about buying ethically, choosing high quality items that will last and to find our true style rather than keeping up with passing trends. This line of thinking also teaches children to take care of what they have instead of the incredibly common attitude that everything can be replaced.
Offer Calm Instead of Chaos
Everyone in our society is on information overload. It assaults our senses everywhere we look. In fact, according to Joshua Becker at becomingminimalis.com the average home has tripled in size since 1950 and has, on average, 300,000 items in it. Wow. That is definitely overwhelming to think about!
Research has shown that our kids are overwhelmed by clutter. And so are we, frankly. Much research has shown that being in a cluttered environment releases cortisol, “which can increase tension and anxiety and lead to unhealthy habits” (motherly.com). Cortisol being released is the body’s physical reaction to stress. Physical clutter puts our physical body in a constant state of fight or flight. This is exhausting. We are not only experiencing it as adults, but our children are subject to it also. We owe it to them to remove this unnecessary chaos from their lives and give them all the benefits of minimalism listed here.
Some other shocking statistics that I have found particularly interesting (from becomingminimalist.com):
10% of Americans have a storage unit because they have more stuff than their home can hold.
25% cannot fit their cars in their two car garage because it is crowded with stuff.
The average 10 year old has 238 toys and plays with only 12 of them daily.
North America has 3.1% of the world’s children but purchases 40% of the world’s toys.
In 1930, the average American woman had 9 outfits. Today, the average woman has 30 outfits. She also spends about 8 years of her life shopping.
The average home in America has more TVs than people and those TVs are on for an average of 8 hours and 14 minutes per day.
The average person will spend a total of 153 days of their life looking for lost items.
Did these statistics blow you away? Not all statistics related to children, but it goes to show how committed our culture is to overconsumption. We must change this in order to give our children a more memorable childhood and a meaningful future.