Today’s post is from Dusti, Shalom Mama’s new contributor!
Nobody wants to be told the way they are living has to change, and kids are no different. Change is just as uncomfortable for your kids as it is for you.
The key to getting your kids to want to simplify their possessions is to make it less scary, help them see the benefits, and make it (dare I say) fun.
1. The one in, one out rule
For older kids especially, this rule is easier to swallow than having to outright get rid of all their things.
2. Make it a game
Remember how not so long ago it was practically a contest to see how little you could live with?
If you’ve got competitive kids, this is a good way to go. Set them up with a kid version of The 100 Thing Challenge, and help them make room in their lifestyle.
Not just any bribery, but really excellent bribery. This kind of bribery takes some detective work on your part, but it is so worth it. Answer the question: What is something they want that can also provide an experience?
Let me give you an example. My daughter has been asking me for a violin for months. It’s an expensive “toy” for sure, along with the cost of lessons.
But guess how much space a violin takes up? And how much of her time will that violin occupy? Because I will expect her to practice and attend lessons, we are talking 5 to 10 hours a week. That is significant!
If she were older, the trade I would be offering her would be to cut down to X number of possessions in exchange for the violin and lessons.
You can do this, too! You know what your kids are interested in. What is something that would help them be even better at that thing they are already interested in?
4. Explain why you are simplifying in their language
Kids care about other people, other people’s feelings, and about helping other people. Have you tried telling them that that’s why you’re simplifying?
Downsizing is great and all, but don’t forget the values underneath the physical act of it.
Whether it’s to opt out of consumer culture, enhance your relationships by removing the stuff, live more sustainably or all of the above, if you can explain to your kids why this is so important to you – beyond the fact that you are tired of picking up their crap (which is a valid point, but one they translate as nagging and negative) – then you are going to have the breakthrough you want with them.
Give your kids some credit. They are smart and loving! If given the opportunity, they are happy to prove it. You can downsize with your kids and with the right support and timing, you will all be happy you took the plunge into simple living.