*This is part 3 of our series on Minimalism. Click here for Part 1 – Wannabe Minimalist and Part 2 The Benefits of a Minimal & Simple Home
Life is a beautiful thing.
Keeping home is a gift.
Raising children is a blessing.
Raising many children is crazy fun, but also crazy busy….and messy!
Kiddos spill cereal all over the dining room floor, they spread what seems like every toy they own throughout the house, they require an exceptionally large amount of laundry, and they love keeping every little ‘treasure’ they find. Multiply that by three (in our case) or more children and you have a tornado zone on your hands!
Most people just assume that babies need lots of stuff, kids need lots of toys, and they both need lots of clothes. Minimalism just doesn’t fit into a life with kids? Right?
I beg to differ.
I remember what it was like a few years back when we had our first child…
Everything was in place: two dozen short sleeve onesies, baby robe, itty bitty washcloths and towels, at least 13 cozy sleepers, a basket full of tiny socks, play mat, stroller, swing, bouncer, crib, pack n’ play, and a dresser full of baby items.
When Little Man came along we did what most new parents do and fill out a registry at Target and accept just about every hand-me-down that people offered. We were super blessed with so many people’s generosity and were thankful for all the lovely gifts. Now, we did live in a two bedroom apartment so we didn’t have an actual nursery and only had so much room to store things. But we most definitely had what we needed to welcome our new baby.
Fast forward to three kids later and it looks quite different…
Somewhere along the way, we came to the conclusion that we could raise many children without lots of stuff. I also realized that while I couldn’t avoid messes entirely (think oatmeal smeared everywhere), I could minimize them and make them more manageable. I’m here to encourage you that you CAN live a simple and minimal life even with many children.
When I look back to my childhood and think about the things that I played with and did, most of them didn’t require boxes and boxes of toys. We built lots of forts, played dress up a whole lot, built towers and towns from Legos and Lincoln Logs, played in the mud, played make-believe with American Girl dolls (or G.I. Joes with my brothers), and made farms with little John Deere trucks by the creek. Some of these things required toys, some did not. All of them involved imagination. Having loads of toys does not add to a child’s imagination, often times it can subtract from it.
In our home, our children are still little so I’m able to control what toys they keep and which ones to dispose of. As they grow older they will have more control over that, but for now, it’s up to me. I prefer to not keep many toys around that aren’t a ‘set’ or have similar items like it. For example, Babydoll items are similar, and cars and trucks are alike, but a toy radio and large dinosaur are single items. I do keep single toys around, just not many.
I have a system of toy organization that I briefly talked about in the last post. The kid’s toys are divided into small totes, labeled, and kept in their closet. There’s a box labeled Duplo Legos, one says Dolls, and another labeled Play-Dough. The kids can play with one box (usually) at a time and when they are done or want to play with something else they have to clean up the toys and I’ll put them away. This method has cut down on messes in our home and allows the kids to enjoy one toy at a time.
Clothing is one of those things that is really easy to go overboard on. It’s an area I have a hard time minimizing in when it comes to my kids. I mean, toddlers (at least mine!) ruin clothes so quickly that I like to have plenty around so I’m not out spending lots of money on new clothes everytime they stain up a shirt. I don’t, however, have closets full of clothes for my kids. My three kids all share a four drawer dresser and a small 24 inch(ish) wide closet.
Even our baby girl doesn’t have tons of clothes. She has a few onesies, some dresses, random items like leggings, and a handful of sleepers. Easy peasy. All of her clothes fit into one drawer plus a small basket that holds socks, etc. in another drawer she shares with her sister. That’s a lot different compared to what we had with Little Man! He had multiple drawers filled with his baby clothes!
Babies and children eat and eat and eat and eat…but really all they need is a handful of items to accomplish that. There are all sorts of gadgets out there now to help feed your baby and toddlers. Special bottles, bottle drying racks, baby food grinder, all types of bibs, high chairs, booster seats, special no-spill sippy cups, even a Keurig especially for mixing formula! I’ve done the baby food grinder and honestly teaching your baby to eat table food little by little when they are ready is much simpler. We’ve also never had a typical high chair as we’ve used a chair top high chair/booster instead. Also, if I ever have to do bottle-feeding again I wouldn’t have bottles galore like I did in the past, a few would suffice.
This is an easy area to simplify in. Ditch baby size towels and use full-size instead. Forget about a baby bathtub and instead bathe them in the shower with you, in the sink when they’re tiny, or use a Bumbo seat sitting in the tub. I don’t use special baby shampoos or body washes. The kids use what we use and we are just careful about not getting soap in their eyes. I personally don’t use lotion on my little ones but on the rare occasion I do, they use mine. Other things like wipe warmers, Diaper Genies, and changing tables aren’t necessary. Even things like potty chairs can be cut out.
We’ve never really had a nursery for our babies. Little Man’s crib was in our office/media room/storage area in our apartment. Both of the girls have slept in our room and moved to the kid’s room once they were around 6-8 months old. No decorated nursery, no beautifully crafted mobile, bedding, and matching wall color…we don’t even use a crib anymore! Pack N’ Play all the way! Now, we do have our kid’s room painted and decorated like a castle, but as for all the extras, we just haven’t found them necessary.
Okay, so there you have it! This is how our family does things and I hope it gives you a few ideas to try out in your own home. Live Intentionally. Live Simply. Live with Hearts for God.