In today’s culture, we’re constantly fed the message that we need more in order to live a good life.
More electronics, bigger homes, newer cars, more clothes, more hobbies—the list goes on. We’re led to believe that having more is a sign of success and will lead to happier and more fulfilled lives.
We are made to feel guilty if our children aren’t in daily extra-curricular activities or if we aren’t creating pre-planned, Pinterest-style fun for them every day.
But if you make the decision to go against that norm, some may even look at you strangely, or wonder if there’s something wrong with you.
But the truth is, those who have embraced minimalism and learned to live and work with less often find they’re happier, more content, more giving and living more meaningful lives.
Well how does that work?
Just because a minimalist is living with less, that doesn’t mean they are living with nothing.
Embracing minimalism is about admitting what you really need to live the life you want.
It’s about defining your values and goals for your life and the lives of your family.
But that’s just the beginning.
Here are seven benefits of embracing a minimalist lifestyle.
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1. Less Stress
This is by far the top benefit of minimalist living so it’s worth mentioning first. As you embark on this new way of life, you’ll find that having fewer things to worry about (both material possessions, clutter and time commitments) greatly reduces your stress level!
• Less Stress for you
Think about your day. How many times are you asked where an item is?
Whether from your spouse or your kids, mum is known as the keeper of the things.
Think about your mental To Do list: laundry, meals to be made, lunches, uniforms, packing a changing bag, making sure bills are paid, and so on.
Then there is all the schedules; what activity does each child have after school? Who’s dropping them off? Picking them up? Do you have time to even make T?
You need your boiler repaired so you look online and begin the tedious search of finding the “best” one.
Or you’re having a baby and you will spend every second of your spare time researching the best car seat, pram, formula, hospital, birthing method, etc.
Eliminating the excess means eliminating many of those stress inducers in a typical day.
• Less Stress for your kids
Your kids can get stressed out, too.
All the extra-curricular activities, practicing those activities in their spare time, homework, and volunteering requirements is enough to take up all their time as well.
Are your children younger, like mine?
Pushing them to be early readers, boasting that they can count to 20, scheduling them playgroups, music groups, and so on, has detrimental effects on them as well.
According to Carl Honoré the voice of the global Slow Movement and author of Under Pressure Putting the Child Back in Childhood, these kids that are pushed too hard too young lose any academic advantage they have over their peers by age 7 or 8 with the bonus that they have more anxiety and less creativity.
Minimalism can mean reducing their stress, too.
His book focuses on how children spend their time, and not minimalism specifically, but it is full of great information on letting kids be kids again.
2. More Money or Less Debt
By moving away from the extreme commercialism that seems normal in today’s world you won’t fall victim to always needing more, more, more and more.
Imagine having the cash to take a fabulous trip, host lovely meals for friends, gift your kids a down payment on their first home, or even being able to give more to your favourite charity without feeling like you are taking something away from yourself- all because you resisted the urge to buy every new toy and gadget the Joneses bought.
Instead of thinking more, new, upgrade, think about what you actually want to do.
What do you want for your family?
It’s probably not stuff.
When I was teaching I had my students write two letters at Christmas time. The first was to Santa asking for what they wanted.
The lists would be a mile long asking for Xboxes and iPhones, the latest toys, and so on.
Then they wrote the second letter. That one was to their parents and they still got to ask for what they wanted.
The lists changed. The kids are aware that their parents work hard to earn finite amounts of money to provide everything they want and need, so the lists were much shorter and included something else.
So many of those kids wanted to just spend a day with their parents. It was bittersweet to read.
Then they had a decision to make. They could only send one letter.
All of them chose to send the letter to their parents.
The kids established right there that they value time with their family over money and things.
As a parent I think we have this notion that we must make their lives better than ours was.
But does better mean more stuff?
Should you work extra hours and finance new TVs and gadgets and fancier cars? Are your kids benefitting? Do they need worldly holidays every year?
Chances are no, no, and no.
So, if the item isn’t essential to making your life better leave it. Say no to buying just because you can.
The endorphins wear off quickly and the debt just leads to more stress.
Making better choices about what enters your home is a good example for your children as well.
You can show them how to budget money and teach them how to establish their own values. Don’t buy tat just to quiet them in a store (pack snacks instead, always have snacks).
Every time you make a purchase is it contributing to your family’s established values? Will it make you happy forever? Do you love it? Will it be your favourite?
Ask yourself questions before you buy.
Give yourself a waiting period to see if you still need it after a week? A month? Maybe you can find something second-hand instead.
Set up a budget but add a goals list. What do you really want? And every purchase should be either a necessity or helping you reach those goals.
3. Less Maintenance
The top two complaints about housework – cleaning in particular – is one, it takes too long and two, there’s too much stuff to clean or clean around.
Think about vacuuming. You probably spend more time moving furniture, toys, dirty laundry, or anything else on the floor than you do actually hoovering.
Think about your worktops and tables. Moving around papers, appliances, food, etc. as opposed to just a quick wipe.
The good news is, embracing minimalism means these things won’t happen anymore. It’ll take far less of your time to clean and organize your home because you won’t have so much stuff to work with and the stuff you do have will have a place to be stored.
You can give your minimalist endeavors an eco-friendly spin and save more space, time, and money using plastic-free, sustainable cleaning products as well.
• Make Your Own Cleaners
Using one or two products to clean means you can swiftly move from one are to the next without hauling a bunch of bottles around.
If you make your own the chemicals won’t be as harsh, cost less and your kids can help, too.
• Find Sustainable Alternatives and Use Less
If you make your own all-purpose cleaner, then you will likely have white vinegar around. White vinegar works as a fabric softener (and no it won’t leave your clothes smelling like pickled onions).
If you can replace the softener, that’s one less product you need to buy and one less giant bottle you have to store and dispose of.
Use cloths instead of disposable wipes and kitchen roll.
Making simple changes in reducing your waste, you will notice less rubbish in your bins, which is a really satisfying feeling.
• Get the Kids Involved
Less stuff for the kids, means less stuff that they need to be responsible for, making it easier for them to tidy and keep track of what they have.
Let them be responsible. Help them set up designated places for their items and then leave them to it.
Teach them early on that cleaning the house is everyone’s job.
Olivia is three and Penny is 19 months and they both help me around the house with chores.
It takes sooo much longer. But they LOVE doing it. Embrace that. Have them help while it’s fun and as they get older and can clean independently they won’t groan because it’s part of their routines already.
4. Less Clutter
Minimalism is about embracing a simple life and learning to live with only the things you need so naturally there will be a lot less clutter in your environment. Less clutter means a more calming living space.
Of course, this also means that one of the first steps you’ll need to do is go through all the current clutter and get rid of the unnecessary possessions.
• Less Clothes
• Less Toys (for the kids and you)
• Less Duplicates
• Less items that sit in a corner without purpose
Most people living a minimalist life have said this was the hardest part of the journey for them, but that it was worth it in the end.
Just keep in mind your vision of minimalism and why you’re doing it – this will help you stay on task as you purge things. It may help to create a vision board of what your dream home and lifestyle looks like to keep you focused.
And don’t forget, you can help others by making donations of your excessive items to local charities, schools and churches. Try to keep as much as possible from going to landfills.
5. Less Waste
Aside from owning less and being aesthetically pleasing, by embracing minimalism we can create a better environment for our families.
By reducing what you bring into your home, you are actually reducing your family’s carbon footprint.
If you take it a step further and consciously reduce your single-use plastics, you can reduce it even more and be doing your part to encourage a more sustainable planet.
Old towels are new cleaning rags. Cans and cereal boxes are great for creating storage and organisers. Stained clothing that can’t be donated can be easily turned into scrunchies or produce bags.
Again, this will save you money, reduce your carbon footprint and keep new stuff from entering your home because you are repurposing what you already have.
If your kids rip a page in a book, grab some sticky tape and fix it.
If the clock your Nan gave you broke when it fell over, get your Gorilla Glue and put it back together.
Take your favourite shoes to the cobbler to get new heels.
Darn the socks.
If we change our mindset to one where we buy things with the intention that they will last forever and then doing everything we can to make them last, we again are making the shift to not only a minimalist lifestyle, but a sustainable one.
6. More Time
Another essential part of embracing minimalism in your life is clearing the clutter of overbooked schedules and too much to do. You’ll begin to learn that saying NO is a complete sentence.
Turning down the things you don’t enjoy doing, or those you feel obligated to do (even though you’re not) means you’ll free up your time. This will give you the freedom to do with your time the things that mean the most to you – spending time with family, friends, traveling, or volunteering.
• Say No to the birthday parties of kids from school
• Say No to the extra language lessons and other extracurriculars
• Say No to work outings
• Say No to overtime (if it’s not required)
Be willing to say that there is a finish line. Admit when you have enough and are living comfortably. Find happiness in all you have because having more won’t raise that level of happiness.
7. Raise Your Kids to Be Successful Adults (With a Healthy Definition of Success)
Just as adults have easily fallen prey to the advertising’s consumerism message that we have to have more, more and more, so can our kids.
Luckily, the tide seems to be turning as next generation has finally had enough of the consumerism destroying our environment. Our kids will be more willing to embrace this change.
Your job as you embrace minimalism will be to set a good example for your kids; teaching them what is most important in life. Showing them how to set their own values and how to buy for forever.
As with any major life change, don’t tackle minimising everything at once. Create your vision and tackle each environment slowly but with purpose. As you make more changes and discover the freedom that minimalism provides, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start minimising sooner.
What are your motivations for trying out minimalism? Let me know in the comments below.