2014 promises to be a year of change. My first child will be joining us in February, bringing the household total to two adults, one baby, two cats and a small daycare. Obviously, there is a lot of excitement around here.
I’ve been “nesting” for weeks already. Getting rid of things we don’t need, organizing what we do have, sorting baby clothes… I’ve also spent some time scouring the internet for ideas on how to use space efficiently. In my search, I came across the concept of minimalism.
What is Minimalism?
My first impression of minimalism was that to “be minimalist” one had to live with only what is truly necessary. The thought of de-cluttering appealed to me right away. Then I thought about the daycare and my own child. Would adopting minimalism deprive the kids in some way?
As it turns out, minimalism is a tool rather than a specific set of rules. It can be used to make space, time and even extra money in your life for the things that are most important to you. It could be traveling the world with all of your possessions on your back or it could be raising a family without breaking the bank.
Sounds good to me. Still, is this something that is good to impose on kids?
As it turns out, yes, it is.
Having Fewer Toys Stimulates Creativity
German public health workers Rainer Strick and Elke Schubert recently published a study claiming that kids are more creative when they have less toys to play with. Not only were kids in the study learning, satisfied and using their imaginations, they had better communication skills and focus after toys were returned to their classroom.
While using their imaginations, kids develop self control, learn about symbolism (in preparation for reading) and practice conflict resolution with their peers. No wonder the kids in the study had increased skills after a period of relying on their own minds for entertainment!
I think it’s important to note that the kids in the study did have chairs, tables, blankets and other “household” type items to work with. The point of the study wasn’t to deprive kids, but to show that by carefully choosing what materials are available, we can encourage children to use their imaginations – something that will greatly benefit them as they go through life.
Now, I’m not saying that toys are bad. I most certainly will continue to provide toys for my daycare kids – and my son. My goal is to keep this idea in mind while choosing what toys, and how many, to provide.
Less Things in Your Home = More Family Time
Some days I feel like I spend all my time moving stuff from here to there. On those days, I spend less time interacting with my daycare kids. This tells me it’s time to reassess how many toys we have available. Often, reducing that amount just a little bit drastically reduces the time we spend on “stuff management” and I can increase my time focusing on the kids.
My goal is to apply this principal to all areas of my life. Less stuff = more time with my new baby. If that’s not motivation to de-clutter, I don’t know what is.
Buying Less Saves You Money For What’s Most Important
I’m getting into the habit of really thinking before I make a purchase. Do I really need this? How much easier will it make my life? How often will I use it? Do I have something else that can serve the same function? Sometimes I still buy the item. Sometimes I don’t.
When I pass up a purchase, not only am I preventing additional clutter in my home, I’m saving money. To me, more money is more time off of work with my baby, more resources for fun family outings and more financial security. When I think of those things, it’s easy to pass up most purchases. Generally, I have no regrets.
My Goals for 2014
This year I will take the leap from daycare provider to Mommy. I want my little boy to have everything he needs. I also want to encourage him to be creative and give him plenty of Mommy and Daddy time.
It seems that having less just might be the ticket to giving my child more.