Kids, especially very young kids, can be tiny hoarders.
They find things like sticks, rocks, bugs, and leaves outside, collect them, bring them inside, and then seem shocked and upset when you suggest they put them back outside.
They receive a random toy from the Dollar Store and suddenly become obsessed with it, like it's a chunk of $1,000 or something.
Broken toys are “hurt” and become the apple of your kid’s eye as soon as you decide it’s time to remove it from the house.
When you’re actively pursuing minimalism, this can seem like a hurdle, but it doesn’t have to be.
The thing about minimalism in motherhood is that it’s less about a perfectly clean house and more about joy. It’s less about perfectly executed rule-following and more about intentional focus on what matters most to you.
So in this, what’s the goal? Is it to teach your child that minimalism trumps her heart? Or is it to teach her that you’re working hard to set up a home that leaves you plenty of time to spend with her? I feel safe to bet that it’s the latter :)
You don't have to sweat the small stuff…
When you have implemented minimalism throughout your home, little details like your child wanting to hold onto silly things matters so much less.
When you know the rest of your house is requiring very little of you and you are reaping the rewards of simplifying, you don’t need to obsess over converting everyone in your family. You don’t need to nitpick to make sure you live with a household of minimalism converts.
You can handle a little bit of non-minimalism from them and be a gracious mama because you’ve simplified everywhere else. That’s a great place to be.
So, if you’re not there yet, relax, let the collection phase go, and press on in your pursuit of an uncluttered home.
And if you’re done and you feel like you’re on the other side, breathe deep and pat yourself on the back, mama! Because you’re no longer in a place where this can put a dent in your peace and intent.
Remember, when we push our families to agree with us and get on board with what we’re doing (pursuing minimalism), all it does is create tension, push-back, and maybe a little bitterness. Even when it’s well-intentioned and subtle, nagging or forcing those we love into coercion accomplishes nothing positive. We don’t want it that way, right?
I know it’s hard, but the best way to go about this is to lead by example. Bring minimalism into the areas of your home and your life that affect you, spread it around like light by letting others see how much less is on your to do list, how much more joy and time you have, and maybe they’ll come around at their own pace.
My husband hated the idea of minimalism for two whole years before he realized it was massively beneficial and came around to the “light side”. With our kids, it’s more a matter of knowing when there’s a line that’s been crossed and you need to use your parental authority to set some boundaries, and when it’s not a big deal and you can let it be.
The thing is, the little nature-finds kids love to hold onto fade away - leaves get crispy and crack, bugs die, twigs snap - they run their course; they don’t last forever. Toys run their course too. There are very few things a child will love enough to keep for forever. Usually, you can let it be and their minds will change eventually.
If you’re doing routine purges (ours were monthly for a while but are now mostly seasonal), there will come a time for your kid to give it up.
What if my kid is keeping literally everything?!
During a conversation in my Facebook group, one mom had the problem that her four-year-old daughter was incredibly sentimental and wanted to keep everything, very literally.
She was keeping every single toy, everything she found outside, she was even keeping pieces of trash like candy wrappers and things like that. She got emotionally attached to everything!
If this is the case for you, then again, I think the solution is to look at the heart. What’s the issue? What is bothering you about this? Is it truly getting in the way?
If it's at that point, you can use the opportunity to teach your child about responsibility, cleaning up after herself, and finding a proper place for all her things. Even at the age of three or four, you can teach your kid these things, and in my personal opinion, it’s a great lesson for them to learn!
Of course your child is going to want to keep every little thing if she has no obligation of responsibility! If it’s just Mom’s job to figure that out, why wouldn’t she want to hold onto everything?
If this were my situation, I would get a small bin for my daughter and explain that this is her special place to keep the things that matter to her - things she is collecting and wanting to keep. I would explain that it’s her job to decide where everything goes and make sure there is enough room, and if there isn’t she can choose what she gets to keep.
I feel it’s important for kids to learn that what you have taking up your space has to have limits because it also takes up your time.
If the issue is just that you're irritated but not really being affected by all the keeping, take a step back. Childhood is so fleeting and temporary. This isn't worth it. This isn't the heart of minimalism. Set a few simple boundaries, hand the responsibility over to your child, and move on.
Have you had an experience with a child wanting to keep everything or one specific type of thing? Share or ask questions in the comments below!