Less Stuff More Living: How to be a Minimalist Family

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You’ve seen the aesthetic everywhere, white everything and minimal décor. Minimalism isn’t just a trend, though. More and more people are starting to embrace minimalist living to reduce feeling overwhelmed. There are real mental and practical benefits to becoming a minimalist family. Here are my best tips for getting started.

mom and daughter laughing in minimalist kitchen with vegetables and salad bowl on counter

What is Minimalist Living?

Family minimalism is associated with lower stress, better productivity, and a higher sense of well-being. That makes sense. After all, clutter free areas equal less time cleaning, organizing, and making decisions. Minimalists often rave about the increased mental and physical space and enjoy a more meaningful life.

Practicing minimalism can be a challenge for anyone. It involves letting things go, and decluttering your home. It also involves changing your habits to allow fewer items into the space in your home in the first place.

When you have a large family, those changes are compounded even further since you’re changing the habits and belongings of many people instead of just one. 

We’ve been trying to be as minimalist as possible. While we have a long ways to go, we have made progress and it sure does make life easier! I believe it is possible to embrace minimalism as a large family.

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woman decluttering with keep and discard boxes for a more minimalist lifestyle

Benefits of Simple Minimalist Living

How will a minimalist lifestyle benefit your big family? Let me count the ways! 😉

First, embracing a minimalist lifestyle means less time spent on managing and organizing stuff, and more time for what truly matters. With fewer possessions to maintain and clean, you’ll be free for game nights, outdoor adventures, and simply enjoying each other’s company.

Minimalism in a large family significantly reduces stress and overwhelm by creating a more streamlined and organized living space. Can you imagine not searching frantically for lost items? Minimalism creates a calmer environment for everyone.

A minimalist lifestyle for a large family isn’t just about getting rid of excess—it’s also about being mindful of what you bring into your home. Prioritize needs over wants. Avoid unnecessary purchases – even it it’s a great sale! Intentionally purchase experiences and items that bring value to your life instead of more clutter.

girl on swing in front of minimalist house

Choosing a minimalist lifestyle also gives us as parents a unique opportunity to pass on our values to the next generation. They learn to make intentional decisions, how to discern needs and wants, and develop healthy relationships with material possessions.

Finally, minimalism and environmental consciousness go hand in hand. By reducing your family’s consumption and waste, you contribute to a more sustainable way of living.

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Creating a Minimalist Home

There are three main parts of minimalism: decluttering, organizing, and minimizing. As I mentioned above, start by going through each room and drawer in your house. What can you donate? What can you get rid of?

Spend time organizing the things you decide to keep. Simple organizational tools like hooks, magnet strips, and bins will improve the functionality in your home.

Once you’ve gone through everything you own and have organized your belongings, make a commitment to minimize what comes into your home. I love a good deal, but I love simple living more.

woman choosing from her capsule wardrobe in closet

Start With Laundry

Many people in the home means a lot of laundry. Streamlining everyone’s wardrobe can make a big difference. Cull everything down to just what everyone needs. A few shirts and pairs of underwear and pants and one or two nice outfits is a general guideline to start with that works for most people. Capsule wardrobes are very popular for people living a minimalist lifestyle.

Consider sharing socks to go minimalist even further! Buying all plain white or black socks for everyone saves time matching them up. Depending on your kids’ ages, there might be other clothes they can share, too. 

Even if you’re saving clothes for younger children to wear in the future, it should be stored away when it’s not being used. (Store by size!) The same goes for seasonal items like heavy coats, and sweaters.

young girl drawing a rainbow surrounded by art supplies

Keep Artwork In Check

Artwork and projects can really take over in a large family, so start decluttering. The fact is, keeping everything is just not practical – even though it can be painful to get rid of kids’ creations!

One compromise is to take photographs of projects before discarding. That way, you have the memories without the clutter. Aim to keep only the most extra special pieces.

I also like to make my kids’ artwork part of our home decor. I have some picture frames that I frame their art project and then switch it out for the next piece. My kids like seeing their art framed and are more open to getting rid of projects in the rotation.

Create Systems

Your family will be much more empowered to keep clutter at bay if there are good systems in place to do so. You will save time and money if you can find items quickly when you need them. Consider implementing some of these in your home: 

  • Set a standard. When surfaces and storage spaces are free of clutter, make it known that this is the standard. When these places begin to build up with junk again, start decluttering.
  • Donate bin: designate one place for items that can be donated to a local thrift store and set a reminder to bring those items in regularly. A box in the garage, for example, is one idea.

Practicing a Minimalist Lifestyle

One of the most difficult aspects of minimalist living is letting go of items, particularly those with an emotional attachment. Consider the big picture and look for ways to encourage a minimalist culture in your family. This includes habits and ideas such as:

  • Enjoying items for awhile, then letting them go.
  • Thoughtful gift giving, rather than exchanging items just for the sake of it.
  • Learning to “make do” and use what’s available instead of acquiring specialty items.
  • Valuing relationships, freedom, and time more than things.
  • Reducing waste by making more meaningful purchasing decisions.

If possible, live in a small space. Today’s houses have really gotten out of hand and we really don’t need so many square feet to live a meaningful life. In addition to huge homes, lots of families fill up a storage unit or two too! Smaller homes will you save money by being cheaper to purchase or rent, and heat and cool too. Decluttering for minimalist living and letting go of storage units will save you money.

wooden cutting board with fresh cut spinach on a counter with a knife block and towel in the background

Learn How to Cook

It’s possible to cook delicious from scratch meals without owning every appliance under the sun. I’m a big believer that good knife skills and cutting board will serve you better than so many different gadgets you could spend your money on.

Instead of investing in all the latest and greatest kitchen items, get a good knife, a good cutting board, and a good dutch oven. Then take a class and learn how to use them! Here the 13 items I find most useful in my minimalist kitchen.

Share Common Items

There are certain items that serve well as community items. Every family is different, of course, but look for ways you can cut back on duplicate items.

If you never go on family bike rides, for example, maybe your family can get away with having just one of each size. Electronics can often be shared. Everyone in your family does not need their own television or shampoo bottle either.

Use Color Coding

For items that do need to be specific to each person, color coding is a lifesaver. Having a color assigned to each person helps everyone stay accountable and organized. Dishes, towels, backpacks, water bottles, and electronics are all examples of items that can be color coded. You can buy items that are those colors or use colored stickers in the meantime. 

become a minimalist family in the kitchen

Declutter Frequently

Large families need to declutter more frequently. This is due to the larger number of people and moving through ages and stages at a higher rate. Baby items need to be stored or donated once the baby grows out of them, for example. 

Every month, plan a declutter day. Everyone goes through their papers or clothes and other items. Each person decides to donate or discard anything that is no longer needed.

Decluttering can become a full time job, so setting a good strategy is essential for large family minimalist lifestyle.

Do I Have to Throw Everything Away?

Decluttering is a huge part of a minimalist lifestyle. However, it’s really more about intentional living. Do the things you have serve a purpose? Do they add value to your life?

Spend less time managing things and build an intentional life instead.

How Can I Convince My Family to Embrace a Minimalist Lifestyle?

When you start a minimalist journey, start small. My kids were resistant at first, but they soon realized it was easier to keep rooms clean when there was less stuff.

Initially, we put extra toys and clothes in storage. Eventually, they were ready to just get rid of the extra things.

Embracing minimalism as a large family might seem difficult at first, but it will ultimately make your life so much more peaceful and joyful. If you’re wondering how to become a minimalist family, these tips are a great way to start!

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About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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1 Comment

  1. There were some great ideas in this – the regularly scheduled declutter day sounds perfect! But I do not think we could ever share socks.