Bringing up the subject of minimalism to family members can be a tricky situation, especially if the concept of a minimalist family is a foreign one. Part of our Ultimate Guide to Minimalism series.
Nobody wants to constantly nag their loved ones to pick up or clean up after themselves — even if it’s something that is getting in the way of your joy and well-being.
Your family may also feel torn about how much time and energy it takes towards becoming more minimalist. Everyone has a busy schedule, whether they’re busy with work, school, preparing meals, or their social life.
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Tidying things up and decluttering are some of the last things on the minds of your family members at the end of an exhausting day. Yet there’s seemingly no end to the mess and accumulation of stuff the longer we put off doing something about it!
Here are several ways in which you can get the rest of your family on board with simplifying their belongings — along with their lives.
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Introducing Minimalism to Family
1. Minimalist Family 101: Living With Less
“Minimalism is about intentionality, not deprivation.” – D. Stojanivic.
Not everyone understands what minimalism is, or the benefits it can bring.
Trying to force your opinions onto others rarely works. People have their comfort zones, and nobody likes it when a loved one breathes down their neck about a lifestyle habit which they may have no intention at all of changing.
Instead of pointing out your family’s flaws, focus on how you can get them to make a positive change. The first step is to educate and inspire them on the concept of living with less.
Try setting up a date night or movie night with the family to watch one of these programs together: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.
Popular YouTube channels on minimalism include Clean My Space, Break The Twitch, and Exploring Alternatives. A simple search for “minimalism” will yield plenty of results which might appeal to your family.
This resource page on Becoming Minimalist lists a range of different blogs which share tons of information that’s dedicated to simple living.
And check out our Pinterest board on minimalism quotes to get motivated right away!
2. Focus on the Bigger Picture
In Marie Kondo’s book, Spark Joy, there’s a section titled “Dishware” which resonates with many.
She mentions that there were five members in her family, and that the kitchen cupboards were always filled with dishes — not all of which were used. Not only that, but the pricey plates were stashed away and not used at all.
This is a common occurrence in many households, where people run out of space because they’re afraid of breaking or damaging expensive cutlery they’ve purchased or been gifted. Are you leaving expensive cutlery forgotten in a box in a dark corner? You and your family could choose to donate the cutlery, gift it, or use it.
Going along with the book’s title, it’s really not about the type of dishes you’re using and how you want them to be organized.
When you sort out your kitchen, dishware and utensils, it brings you a step closer to a “joyful dining table.” It’s a chance for your family to gather, relax, talk to each other, and share a healthy meal together. It’s precious family time that won’t be there if your kitchen and dining table are always messy high stress zones.
Keeping the bigger picture in mind will help you and your loved ones to get and stay on board with minimalism.
3. Be A Role Model
Instead of getting frustrated, focus on the better home environment your family is creating for themselves.
When your family seems reluctant or disinterested in embracing minimalism, focus on being a positive role model so that they can see the benefits for themselves. Make it a point to show how minimalism has brought a higher level of quality to your own life.
You don’t have to limit minimalism to stuff around the house either.
Have you curbed your spending on unnecessary items? Are you more organized at work because you’ve set aside some time each day to maintain a clutter-free desk? Does your skin look better because you’ve chosen to cut down your intake of sugary soft drinks and junk food?
Great! All of these are examples of minimalism in action. Make sure your family SEES the happier and more vibrant version of you.
Before long, they'll get the message that minimalism is the key to your newfound joy, and they’ll want to have some of that success for themselves too.
4. Work as a Team
There's a reason why support groups exist. Team effort works!
Research shows that teamwork creates synergy and promotes a sense of achievement. The forward momentum created by teamwork naturally works against feelings of overwhelm and defeat.
Instead of assigning tasks to your family with military efficiency, why not turn it into a team activity to motivate each other?
Fun activities include The Minimalism Game, where you and your family minimizes their stuff with you over the course of 30 days. As Sarah at The Contented Minimalist says, your family may not “understand your sudden interest in minimalism, but they will understand that you want to focus on spending time with them.”
You could choose to tackle a messy part of the house together, or schedule some time each week on a specific task. One weekend could be spent on sorting out clothes and deciding which ones to keep and which ones to donate or give away. The following weekend could be spent watching a documentary or YouTube video on minimalism, after which your family members can decide which area in life they’d like to apply the concept of “living with less.”
Another way to get your family more involved is to re-allocate some family time towards actively practicing minimalism. You could swap a weekly movie night for keeping the home neat and tidy. Or you could skip the fast food driveway on a Friday and get your family to be involved with cooking a healthy meal from scratch at home.
5. Get Started as a Minimalist Family Member
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain
If you’re going around in circles wondering when’s the perfect time or place to begin de-cluttering, stop and take a breath. Nothing will happen if you don’t take the first step.
Focus on one thing at a time if the thought of taking on a huge minimalism project “as a family” is enough to give you a mini panic attack.
In the home renovation show, Fix It and Finish It, there was an episode featuring a 7-member family who had to clear out a crowded, cluttered garage.
By the end of the day, the same family looked ten times happier and more relaxed once they had organized what to keep, donate, or discard. It all started with the first cardboard box that was taken out to be sorted, until all of the remaining boxes had gone through the same process.
You'd be surprised at how much momentum can be created with an initial first step.