I’ve been asked by many of you how you can be a minimalist while having people live with you who don’t hold this same value. Being a minimalist with a family is tricky for sure.
It can feel like you simplify some area of your life only to have someone else complicate things again. Being a minimalist with a family can feel like an uphill battle at times.
When you decide to be a minimalist, like for real, it kind of changes everything. Your family may have been supportive of your decluttering before when they agreed that it was obviously excess. Maybe they understood that you didn’t need three slow cookers or 100 pairs of shoes.
But, what if now they don’t get why you now want to sell your game or movie collection? Or get rid of cable? What if you want to sell some of the furniture you’ve bought together? What then?
Well, then it gets harder. It’s tough to be a minimalist when you live with people who are not. It can be stressful when your daughter’s room in constantly a mess of things she’s made or when your son leaves his football cards all over the house. (Not that I’m speaking from experience.) 😉
I would say I’m the only minimalist in my house. I don’t live with any hoarders, but one of my daughters is definitely borderline. Haha!
I have three kids and a husband who have been supportive of my journey towards minimalism, but they haven’t embraced it themselves. And that’s okay. Their support is all I can really ask of them.
Can you be a minimalist with a family?
So how can you be a minimalist with a family or roommates? Is it really possible or not?
I believe the answer is yes!
First, remember that minimalism isn’t a set of rules. There isn’t only one way to be a minimalist, and we are all on a journey towards minimalism. This means that we are all living different levels of minimal. With a family, it may mean that we can’t be as minimal as we would like, but that’s okay.
Second, don’t forget that minimalism is about having and doing only what you love in order to live a meaningful, intentional life. Remember that each person who lives with you is an individual who should get to decide what things they love to have and do. Only they can know what adds value to their lives.
It’s true that kids don’t always understand this concept, so it’s your job to teach it to them. But how do you do that?
How to be a minimalist when you have a family
1. Lead your family toward minimalism.
Obviously you believe living minimally is one of the best lifestyles you can choose, but if your family isn’t on board, don’t force it on them. Instead, lead by example.
Show them the value of living minimally. You can show them the value of minimalism by talking to them about what benefits you receive when you give something up.
For example, you can explain to them that since you have less to clean up, you can spend more time with them. Or, because you have given up snacking and overeating, you have more energy and generally feel better and happier. They will learn to appreciate the sacrifices you make over time.
2. Don’t force them to live minimally.
Don’t force your kids to get rid of their toys. Instead, help them make choices about which toys the love and should keep, and which toys would be better going to other kids who would love them more.
Don’t make your husband sell his game collection. Instead, let him know that if he really loves his games, you would appreciate it if he kept them neat and clean.
And absolutely DO NOT get rid of their things without telling them! Try your best to understand where they’re coming from. You may not want to collect rocks or see any value in having a rock collection, but if someone who lives with you does, try to be understanding.
Think about something that brings a lot of value to your life, and imagine how you would feel if someone told you to throw it away. Again, don’t be pushy. Remember the journey you are on towards minimalism and how long it has taken you to get where you are today. Give them time to do the same.
3. Control what you can.
Even though you can’t control the people who live with you, you can control some things. For instance, you can control what you bring into the house. You can make sure that you don’t purchase excess, whether it be food, decorations, or stationary (just me?!).
Also, you can control how you spend your time. You don’t have to spend an hour every day picking up after your kids or husband. You can expect them to take care of their own things.
In fact, this will help the people in your life learn what they choose to sacrifice when they have excess in their lives. They will be able to see that having a lot of toys means a lot to pick up.
Or they can experience for themselves that being in four after-school activities means having little time or energy for homework or relationships.
Your husband will know firsthand that having a motorcycle means time and money spent on maintenance that he could otherwise spend doing things he loves.
For those of you who are a minimalist with a family, I hope you found this helpful. Obviously, you hope that your family members will embrace minimalism as well, but try not to get frustrated with them if it doesn’t happen.
Thank them for their support, be an example of having a minimal lifestyle, and let them reap the benefits of you living a more meaningful life.
Are you a minimalist with a family? How do you show them the value of minimalism without being pushy? Share with us in the comments!
Theresa Bedford is a syndicated freelance home and travel writer with regular contributions to the Associated Press wire and MSN. She helps everyday people love the life they have through simplicity, organization, and prioritization.