Minimizing with children


ToysUshering a child into a minimalist lifestyle can be tough. I also believe that the method used for one child, might not work for another child. So with that being said, I can only describe the method we used (my wife and I) to enforce this lifestyle with our daughter.

Let me start by saying that I do not believe that the material possession limitations for children are the same as that for an adult. Since the world is new to them, and they’re still discovering, they tend to be more appreciative of all the gifts they get. As adults we’ve “been there and done that,” so we don’t hold as much value in Christmas Mug we got as a present from our aunt Jinny. Whereas my daughters eyes glow at the smallest insignificant trinket of a gift. It’s not so insignificant to her, just to me and my wife. As a result, a child’s supply of things (toys …. to be honest) is going to be larger than an adults. This brings us to rule 1:


1. Do not purge the child’s toys based on how we asses their value, but how the child assesses their value.


This cannot be done by merely asking the child if they wouldn’t mind getting rid of a certain toy (chosen at random), as they would no doubt say something similar to “NO daddy, I want it!” Instead we can asses how much a child values a toy by having a general idea of how often they even use the toy. For those toys that are seldom (if ever) used, put them aside for purging.

Ah, but we cannot just dispose of them yet, under their nose like that, as there is still a chance they will notice. This is a common mistake that risks losing the child’s trust, and if that happens we will never be able to get the child to fall in line with minimizing. So:


2. Get the child’s permission to dispose the toy.


Sounds impossible eh. Consider this. Since the child is not playing much with the toy, their concern is not that they will no longer be playing with the toy, but that the toy is being discarded. The concern is for the toy itself, not for the time they spend with it. Re-assure the child that the toy is going to be used and valued for another purpose, and then of course follow through with that purpose. In our case, we tell our daughter that since she doesn’t use it very much the toy will belong to another child that will love it and play with it a lot more than she does; a child that doesn’t have as many toys as she does. Then we either take it to consignment, donate it to a charity, or give it to a friends child. Our daughter has always responded positively to this.


Now my four year old daughter comes up to my wife all the time with a toy in hand and says “Mommy, we can midimize (not a typo) this toy mommy. Give it to the poor kids.”

I’m so proud.

Out with the old, In with the new.

I have always said that the things we own are only worth holding on to if they are things we use; if they are things that add value to our lives. To continue with this philosophy it is important to recognize when things no longer add value to our lives. When we no longer use them, or want to use them. It is important to have the mentality that all the material possession in our lives are replaceable. I would even go so far as to say that we should have the mentality that they are “in cycle.” By that, I mean that we that allow these things IN our lives with the knowledge that someday they will live out their usefulness and have to make their way OUT of our lives.


My favorite place in the entire world is NY city. I loooove Manhattan. The lights, the bustle, the buildings, the people, the events, the food, everything. It all just turns me on. As much as I am anti-excess consumerism myself, I like to see other people engaged in it; it’s like watching the scene of an accident. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, but I can’t look away. So I really love TIMES SQUARE.


As a result many years ago I acquired two beautiful prints to put on my walls. One of the NYC skyline just above the Brooklyn bridge at night, and the other a giant black an white one of the same skyline just below the Brooklyn bridge. I enjoyed gazing upon both these prints for many years. Recently however my enjoyment of them has diminished and been replaced with negative feelings. You see, the skyline photo was taken prior to 9/11 and therefore has the Twin Towers in the picture. Now that they have been replaced with our Freedom Tower, these pictures primarily serve as a constant reminder to me that true evil exists. I don’t want these feelings. So ……. out with the old.

Time to modernize. The small one is being replaced by a bright vivid print of Times Square, and the other by a new skyline picture taken on a bright sunny day from over Central Park (I think) with the Empire State Building dead center, and the Freedom Tower to the right. They are beautiful, and I am sure I will enjoy gazing upon them for many years to come.

Life Axiom Number One: Things always have, and always will change. We must adapt to those changes to survive.


ChangeEverything in our world is in a constant state of flux. The reality around us is changing; technology is changing, fashions are changing, lifestyles are changing, family structures are changing, EVERYTHING IS CHANGING. Don’t blink, because you will miss it. This is an undisputed fact of life. As a result, we as people must adapt to these changes in order to stay current, be marketable, and ultimately to survive.

Being minimalists, we are in an ideal position to embrace this fact of life, and adjust to it. This is one of the beautiful things about living a life free of clutter and distraction; one can quickly transition to rid them self of outdated material, and incorporate something new in their life without having to take the time to clear space for it (mental, physical, and calendar space). The transition is unfettered.

With that being said, whatever our values are, I propose that we add “embrace change” to that list. By adding this to our list of values, we allow ourselves the flexibility to swap out, and swap in, other potential values to and from that list. Because make no mistake, there most likely will come a time when some of the things in life that we value will become obsolete, or be taken from us.


Example: In the early 1900’s America there were a plethora of proud business owners that were embracing the American dream and opened up their own pub. They were a proud people, and they took great joy in providing a service where the townsfolk could come visit them in merriment at the end of their work day and kick back a few suds while sharing laughs and tales.

Then prohibition passed.

Those bar owners that had “embrace change” on their value lists handled this much easier, and probably had a plan-B lined up. Those that didn’t were likely in a state of denial and rendered themselves obsolete.


Come to think of it, “embrace change” is the only item on our list of values that is fixed, other than the three core values of course (read my book). All other items are swappable.