Monday, May 10, 2010

Minimalist? But kids are so untidy!

Untidy city. And another not so secret - I'm only about average in the tidy department myself. Total slob? No. OCD neatnik? Don't make me laugh. But do you know what? If you're not the naturally tidy type, minimalism is an even better idea.

If you have too much stuff, and not enough space or inclination to put it all away, what's going to happen? Yeah, you know it, and that's what happens at my house too. Generally, things are where they shouldn't be. When expecting a visit from someone who might object to your inhome obstacle course, with a herculean effort, things get tidied and/or hidden. And the next time you look around, the untidy fairies have sprinkled their wee magick again.

You can't ever win unless you actually get stuff out of your house.

I have been working harder on releasing my own things than the kids'. I have been working some minor miracles getting rid of outgrown toys and clothes, but I unashamedly keep kid toys in many rooms of our house. We have more great toys than they can possibly play with at once.

How is that still minimalist?

1) It reflects my values. Even if at 10pm, I am faced with a lounge covered with three sets of scattered toys plus those kicked for touch into the kitchen, I have a wee frisson of triumph if I know that this joyous abandon kept them away from the TV. TV for kids is a constant battle for me. I'll revisit that. And maybe I'll tidy up myself, or maybe figure there's some magic left in them for early risers the next morning.

2) This toy bonanza is housed in various baskets, trays and boxes, and many of them live out of sight underneath couches. Last week, I even filled a storage bin (recently emptied of bathroom stuff following VERY successful purge and rehoming) with many of the less organised toys that are still age appropriate. Boxed up, out of sight, unmissed, but all the more entertaining when they appear again.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

But wait, there's do you keep things under control at your house?


  1. Gifts are a bit of a pain, I find, especially with kids. "Manners" from 100 years ago tell us it's rude to get rid of a gift. But modern consumerism means gifts don't have the meaning they used to. I have a little rule of thumb (especially for toys my kids have been given that we're not strongly attached to): it's "polite" to keep the toy for one week for every one dollar it cost the person.

  2. That's a great rule! I also am quite sneaky about gifts that nobody is attached to (especially if it's me :-) I will often tuck them away before anyone can _form_ a great attachment and then rehome them appropriately and thoughtfully. What they don't see, they don't miss when they have 15 others just as good.

  3. We have toy wars too - but I am pretty OCD about tidiness and minimalism and our family knows that and generally respects it. I do the regifting thing - I have a box set aside for that and straight after parties and Christmas I put things away before the kids can really get into them. I think your line 'you can't actually win unless you get the stuff out of your house is a great one!'.

  4. Great article, thanks Jess. I've just started a minimalist mum blog too!! big effort is required to continue Editing so that I'm not drowning in Toys...luckily I live close to a Vinnies store, so when I put the baby to sleep, I usually walk up there with a bag to donate. But I gotta resist the urge to go in!! "Step away from the op-shop!!!"
    here's my blog if you want to have a read:

  5. Hi Glorya,

    Thanks for visiting here - and great to see another mum talking about minimalism!

    Drop by anytime...