Minimalism When You Still Have Kids

I crave a simplified life. I follow bloggers, listen to podcasts, and read books in support of a minimalist lifestyle. As I understand it, minimalism creates mental space for our passions and physical space free of clutter. These practices free up our time away from drudgery and chores so we can focus on creativity, relationships, and life experiences. My whole family is into it.

Getting Started

My oldest dialed into these ideas first and began asking for tickets to events or family activities for birthday and Christmas gifts. He, in return, gave his time and cultivated more meaningful relationships with others. Inspired, I began to notice the stuff filling our house and the house itself required most of my “free time” to maintain. My sister-in-law introduced me to the 30 Day Minimalist Game where you get rid of one possession on the first day, two on the second, and so on until at the end of the month you have tossed, donated, or otherwise re-homed 465 items from your home.

Making Progress

This convergence of ideas hit me at exactly the right time and started me on a journey to simplify my surroundings and concentrate more energy on my relationships. This, in turn, led me to my current career and professional training as a Certified Specialist of Wine and also inspired me to pare down closet space and declutter my home. So regardless of how the rest of this turns out, I see minimalism as a big win.

Unfortunately, while I have scaled down, donated, cleared out, and shifted resources, I can’t quite get it simplified enough. I’m still looking for the right personal balance between owning only the essentials and creating a warm and hygge-centered home, because I do need a little “extra” in life. Also, the business of raising my family and owning a home still takes time, effort, and resources. Houses need cleaned, laundry needs done, families need fed regardless of whether I own 16 pans or two. I am thankful home maintenance takes less time now than it did two years ago, but I still feel like there is room for improvement. I’m just not sure how to get there while I still have kids at home.

My day today was organized and efficient and it was still draining! I worked 9-5, checking all the tasks off the list and while my kitchen might be minimal-ized, there were still dishes in the sink and dogs to be fed once I got home. As it turns out, my family doesn’t see the improvement of only having a few pans in the kitchen when they still get used and have to be cleaned. So it fell to me to wash the dishes so I could start making dinner, which needed to be done before I could start in on the rest of the household chores, the ones not delegated to the children.  No matter how “simple” I make things, my to-do list remains packed and I am TIRED. I might not have a six-week stockpile of clothes in the closet anymore, but the clothes I do have still need to be washed and maintained regularly. The kitchen still needs swept and wiped down. Don’t get me started on the bathrooms, I live with teenagers. They do help but often under duress, in which case, sometimes it’s just quieter if I do it myself.

Still Feeling Stuck

The desire to have an efficient and organized house while living with kids who must be continually reminded to participate is a little like Sisyphus perpetually pushing the stone up the hill. My kids are older now and they don’t have toys strewn across the family room and they choose to own less things. But the few possessions they do own are rarely put away! I am at a loss as to how to instill a sense of organization in my 15-year-old who would rather budget for new earbuds once a month instead of keeping the current pair out of the dog’s reach. What I’m learning is that owning less and picking up are not necessarily related.

While we follow many minimalist principles, keeping track of shoes continues to baffle my household.

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Anyone else know the struggle?

Kristina Haahr
Kristina is an El Dorado native who spent a lot of years trying to live "anywhere else.” She returned to El Dorado with husband Chuck (m. 1994) and their children Isaac (b. 1998) and Isabelle (b. 2003). A SAHM for 16 years, Kristina is now a wine rep for Demo Sales Inc., living her dream of a wine-saturated life. Kristina is a Geographer (BS K-State), Historian (MA WSU), and wrangler of two tiny dogs. She loves to travel, shop for shoes, and spend time with her teenagers, though she’s probably on her back porch saying “there’s no place like home.”