I would love to tell you about what family life looks like while being on a minimalist journey. But, I’m not a minimalist. The idea is appealing to me and I would love to, in theory. But, I haven’t figured it out yet.
So, I thought I would take a peek inside the homes of some real life Minimalists and see what it looks and feels like.
And I mean real life Minimalists. Normal people like you and me who just decided to change their lives. Not someone from a magazine who hired Marie Kondo or The Home Edit to come over and empty their closet and make everything pretty.
What exactly is the minimalist lifestyle?
Over at The Minimalists, they say this about the Minimalist Lifestyle:
Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.
Uhhh, what? Really?
I’m writing in real time as I’m researching, I’ll have you know and this is again truly unexpected. In my mind, Minimalism was going to be about tiny homes, “having a place for everything”, getting rid of everything, and “decluttering”.
Freedom, though? This is not as I had expected. I’m going to have to ask my Minimalist friends about this definition and see if that tracks for them.
Can you be a minimalist with a family?
Yes, it’s absolutely possible to be a minimalist with a family. In fact, some would argue that adopting a minimalist lifestyle can be especially beneficial for families. Minimalism is a lifestyle that encourages fewer physical possessions, less clutter, and less unnecessary spending in favor of more time, more space, and more meaningful connections. Here are some tips on how to be a minimalist with a family:
Explain minimalism to your partner and children in a way they can understand. It’s about living with less to make room for what’s truly important: relationships, experiences, and fulfillment.
Start by decluttering your home. This process can be done as a family activity. Encourage your children to keep only the toys, books, and clothes they truly use and love.
Before buying anything new, ask yourself (and teach your children to ask) whether the item is truly necessary.
When you do need to buy something, opt for quality over quantity. A single item that’s well-made and long-lasting is better than multiple cheaper items that will quickly break or become obsolete.
Holidays and birthdays can lead to an influx of new items (especially Christmas). One way to handle this is by requesting experience-based gifts (like a trip to the zoo) or time together instead of physical items.
Minimalism isn’t just about stuff. It’s also about creating time and space in your life for the things that matter. Establishing regular routines and habits can help with this.
Teach by Example
Show your children the benefits of minimalism by leading a minimalist lifestyle yourself.
Create a System
Have a place for everything, and make sure everything goes back to its place. This will help maintain a clean, clutter-free home.
Focus on Experiences
Instead of material possessions, focus on creating experiences and memories with your family.
Teach your family the importance of being grateful for what they have. This can help shift the focus from wanting more to appreciating the present.
Remember, minimalist living isn’t about deprivation; it’s about making room for more of what matters. It can be adapted to fit your family’s needs and values.
5 Real Minimalist Households
I get to work with some amazing business owners in my day job and several of them live in Minimalist homes. They were kind enough to give me a peek into their homes and give me an idea of what it’s like to live the minimalist lifestyle.
Judy, from You Can Live Rich On Less, went from a sprawling 4-bedroom home to an RV.
Here’s Judy’s story in her own words:
After returning home from a month-long vacation to the US and Eastern Canada in our Fifth Wheel RV, we realized that we really didn’t want to live in our large suburban home anymore. It was a lovely home, with 4 bedrooms, and 3 bathrooms, but in reality, we spent most of our time in the family room/kitchen area. And for the most part, all we did was sleep there and commute three hours every day to our jobs in the city. Well my job, since by then my husband Mark had retired.
So we sold the house, got rid of a ton of stuff, and now live in our Park Model RV in Cottage Country. It’s about 400 square feet (10 X 40) and we couldn’t be happier. We still spend most of our time in the family room that has theatre seating in front of our flat-screen TV and of course the tiny galley kitchen.
We don’t miss the spaciousness, maintenance, or expense of carrying a large home. Our RV is paid for and I can clean it in under 20 minutes – 30 minutes if I really want to scrub.
My two favorite spots are the kitchen and the spacious outdoor deck. As a baker and blogger, I can create amazing desserts in my tiny kitchen shown here, with the help of a combination convection microwave oven.
I have one set of utensils, baking pans, and pots. There isn’t room for more. We don’t shop at Costco anymore, because we simply don’t have the space, and now support local businesses by buying just what we need instead of stockpiling it.
My other favorite spot is our deck. It’s almost 300 square feet, and this is where I do most of my writing, and my favorite place to write is sitting in a deck chair, balancing my laptop on my lap, with my coffee beside me. I have a window on the world and can say hello to my neighbors as they walk by or stop for a chat. Another important perk of living small the way we do is the community we enjoy. Pure simplicity.
Even after 4+ years, I’m still amazed at how little space we need.
Check out Judy’s post on Full Time RV Living.
Kristy from Money Bliss is a busy wife and mom who was spurred to Minimalism by a remodel of her home.
Kristy explained how it started:
“When we remodeled, it was more about creating connections with those who we care about. We tore down two walls to open up the kitchen and create a 10-foot-long countertop/seating area. This high bar seating area is the most popular in our house for our family as well as visitors.”
“On a daily basis, it is where stories are shared and so many memories have been made.”
“Through the remodeling process, we got rid of half of our belongings. This allowed us to have more time together rather than cleaning up our stuff.”
Kristy wrote about what it’s like to own less stuff after living for 6 weeks without the family’s things.
Can you imagine picking up and moving your family to Europe? Everything you own is in 8 suitcases.
Marissa from Squirrels of a Feather did it.
When I interviewed her, she explained, “We recently decluttered our entire home down to 8 suitcases and moved overseas to Europe, where we now live in a minimalist one-bedroom apartment.”
“Living more minimally has helped our family become happier and closer than ever. My children have fewer toys but play longer and more independently (with less fighting!) and I spend less time cleaning up and stressing out!”
“We love our minimalist home life.”, Marissa exclaimed.
Check out Marissa’s post on Minimalism with Kids.
Cath of Random Cath calls herself a Minimalist in progress.
She’s a proponent of living a Zero Waste lifestyle and is conscious of the “stuff” she brings into her home.
Her beautiful blue bedroom is calming and serene.
Check out Cath’s Apartment Tour to see more of her “Minimalist in Progress” home.
Joelle who is a member of the Bogoten fam (you can see her favorite post on how to Declutter Your Home) struggled with letting go of things.
“My husband and I liked the idea of minimalism but were struggling to implement it. We struggled to let go of our ‘stuff’. What worked?”, said Joelle.
“Moving from our 2 bedroom garden apartment to a VW van for 6 months. It made us properly evaluate what we really needed, and what was really important to us. We are more conscious now of what we bring into our current home, and focus on how useful it is, or if it really makes us happy to have it.”
“The paintings and pictures on the wall might not be useful, but looking at them every day makes us happy.”
Laura from Life Between Two Dogs runs her business out of her minimalist office. It’s not a typical image of Minimalism, but it is very efficient.
“I can definitely say that the less clutter your workstation has, the better it is to concentrate and avoid unnecessary distractions.”, said Laura.
“Besides, during the day I can see a part of my eucalyptus tree which is a nice view to feel not so lonely.”
“It’s a constant effort to keep a minimalist approach but it helps to remind yourself of what truly matters. Be it time to write, spend time with loved ones, or go through your book collection.”
How do I start minimalism with my family?
Creating a minimalist family home can be both challenging and enriching. Here are some steps to help you get started:
Have a Family Meeting
Start by explaining what minimalism is and why you want to adopt this lifestyle. Make it clear that this isn’t about punishment or deprivation, but about focusing on what’s really important and reducing stress and clutter. Encourage everyone to share their thoughts and feelings.
Set Clear Goals
Why do you want to embrace minimalism? Maybe you want to reduce cleaning and maintenance time, save money, or live in a peaceful and orderly environment. Having clear goals will motivate your family during the process.
You don’t have to declutter your entire house in a day. Start with one area or category of items (like toys, books, or clothes). This is also an excellent opportunity to involve your kids in making decisions about what to keep and what to let go of.
Create simple, regular routines to maintain your new minimalist home. This could involve quick daily clean-ups, a weekly decluttering session, or monthly donations of items you no longer need.
Encourage thoughtful purchasing. Before buying something new, ask if it’s really needed, how often it will be used, and where it will be kept.
Shift the focus
Plan family outings, play games together, learn new skills, and so on. Focus on quality time with each other.
Create a Calm Space
A minimalist home is uncluttered and serene. Make sure every item has a designated place. If an item isn’t necessary, loved, or used regularly, consider letting it go.
Remember that change takes time, and it’s okay to move at a pace that’s comfortable for your family. Some family members may be more receptive to the idea of minimalism than others, and that’s okay.
Remember, family minimalism isn’t one-size-fits-all. Adapt these steps as necessary to suit your family’s unique needs, schedules, and circumstances. It’s not about living with as little as possible, but about making room for more of what truly matters in your life.
Did Minimalism Equal Freedom?
So, what did these ladies have to say about The Minimalists’ definition of Minimalism? The consensus was that, yes, Minimalism does come with a sense of freedom.
Kristy feels “... freedom from overwhelm and freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture. We are happy to have more time back in our lives and money in our pockets for experiences. ”
And Marissa said, “…Minimalism has freed my family in so many ways.
It has freed my time because I spend less time cleaning and tidying. That in turn has freed me from a great deal of anxiety and stress from being surrounded by clutter.
Perhaps most importantly, minimalism has also helped me move on after decades of grief from the early deaths of my parents; finally letting go of sentimental items and passing items on to people who could actually ENJOY them has been so freeing. “
And Judy and Laura had similar takes:
Judy: “I mostly agree with the definition, but would challenge that minimalism would make you less depressed – I guess in a non-clinical way. And it can certainly reduce fear, overwhelm and worry but not eliminate it.
However, I definitely feel that I have achieved freedom from the trappings of consumer culture that you define. I think that freedom as a result of minimalism will be different from one person to the next. Like someone who no longer pays a mortgage feels differently from a person who is independently wealthy who’s never had a mortgage.
For me, freedom is something that will be a work in progress as I live my life. That’s why I’ve embraced “Hygge” and simple living and write about them extensively on my website. “
Laura: “I don’t agree with the “easy” definition. I believe minimalism is not a tool for freedom – it’s more of a mindset to make room for things that actually matter.
It won’t automatically free you from depression, guilt, or fear. It will help to feel less overwhelmed, which in turn can help with lowering your guilt, making depression easier to manage, and paying attention to what can be done to overcome fear. It’s a constant effort to keep a minimalist approach but it helps to remind yourself of what truly matters. Be it time to write, spend time with loved ones, or go through your book collection 🙂
I believe I achieve a sense of freedom when I see around a less cluttered room with things that make me happy; it’s like a plug being removed from my brain and the static inside my brain clears abruptly that I feel like I can breathe.”
Why is minimalism good for families?
Minimalism offers several benefits that can positively affect the overall well-being and quality of life of families. Here are some reasons why minimalism is good for families:
Reducing the amount of stuff in your home can create a more peaceful, less stressful environment. It’s easier to clean and maintain an organized home, which can free up time for other activities.
With fewer possessions to clean, organize, and manage, families often find they have more time to spend together. Can you say, “Less laundry!”? This extra time can be spent on activities that build relationships and create memories.
By prioritizing needs over wants, families can often save money. This can reduce financial stress and potentially enable families to work less, travel more, or achieve other financial goals.
Minimalism can teach children important values such as contentment, gratitude, and the difference between needs and wants. It encourages them to find happiness in experiences and relationships rather than material possessions.
By buying less and choosing quality over quantity, families can reduce their environmental impact. This can be an excellent teaching moment for children about sustainability and responsible consumerism.
Clutter can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety. A minimalist home can feel more peaceful and relaxing, which benefits everyone in the family.
With fewer distractions, families can focus more on what truly matters to them. This could be spending time together, pursuing hobbies, volunteering, or other meaningful activities.
With fewer toys and more open space, children often become more creative, learning to use their imagination instead of relying on physical items to entertain them.