Negotiating the simplifying journey with others

In January I wrote that I was curious to know what some of your challenges have been with simplifying and reducing clutter. Elli, a mother of six from Idaho, described her challenge as living with others who are not as eager to reduce stuff as she is.

There are two posts on Becoming Minimalist that offer thoughtful, practical advice for working through this challenge with another adult (When your spouse doesn’t get it and When you’re a minimalist but your partner isn’t), and a post from Small Notebook offers suggestions for managing little kid toys.

In our house, the adults are in full agreement about the benefits of having less stuff. Could each of us get rid of more things? Absolutely. I have noticed that I sometimes need to look at possessions a few times (over several months or longer) before I can accept that they aren’t adding value to my life, and I think my husband is the same way.

In the case of my son, I have done all the work up to this point to reduce his clutter (consigning or giving away outgrown toys and clothes on a regular basis, dealing with the river of artwork and papers flowing in from kindergarten, and regifting small things made of Chinese plastic to his teacher for her prize box). But he’s old enough now to start learning some of the life skills we all need to manage our belongings. This past week I sat with him while he sorted a monster stack of papers into “recycle” and “display” piles (the “display” pile was discouragingly large). My new rule is that if he wants to keep a school paper or craft, it must go on his bedroom wall (with washi tape, which doesn’t mark). Sometime soon, when we’re both in very sunny moods, we’ll practice sorting his toys into “keep” and “give away” piles. The best solution of course would be to reduce the number of toys that come into his life, but this depends mostly on other people who are loving and well-intentioned and really want to give gifts.

What tips do you have for negotiating the simplifying journey with a spouse or with children?

3 thoughts on “Negotiating the simplifying journey with others

  1. I’ve had a lot of luck with my children (8 and 11) by emphasizing that they can find their favorite things better if they get rid of their less favorite things. Also, giving them away to someone specific helps get rid of things they are uncertain about — younger friends, cousins, neighbors. The fire station near our house takes gently used stuffed animals for its ambulance; I have used a tour of the firestation as the impetus to move out animals that are not being played with, with great success.

  2. Pingback: Back to basics | Simplifying at Home

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