benefit #18 – room to add

my daughter celebrated her 3rd birthday this past weekend.  princesses were everywhere – on the decorations, the paper products, the cake, and on her presents.  everywhere i looked this weekend, i saw princesses… and my daughter smiling.  she couldn’t get enough!  every card and every gift with a princess brought a smile to her face and a cheer of “princesses!”  her joy brought me joy.

looking back on the day as we were taking the new princess toys to the basement toy room, it occurred to me that one benefit of minimalism is that there is “room to add.”  because we have kept our kids’ toys down to a minimum through regular sorting and purging, there is room in our basement for new princess toys.  conversely, if the toy room was already stuffed full of toys, there would be no room for my daughter’s new treasures.

and this benefit relates to more than physical belongings.  consider this, if our schedules are so full with no room for margin, there is no opportunity to add something new or something better (whether that be joining a gym, getting to know the neighbors, or handling a family crisis).  a too-full calendar leaves no room for addition.

although adding things may seem counter-productive to one who wants to become minimalist, it is in fact, one good reason to consider it.

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Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    I was wondering what your regular process for purging your children’s toy is? I TRY to do this, but my son always says, “But it’s my favorite…” I know it’s not really his favorite, but I don’t want to FORCE him to give up anything.

    Any words of advice? (I have a 5 year old and an almost 3-year old.)

  2. says

    @kirwin – i can offer two ideas that we have tried successfully in the past.

    1) i think it started when my son was three and we convinced him to give up his pacifier to “the new babies” at the hospital, but my 6-year old son has always responded well to “let’s find some toys to give to kids who don’t have any.” this, of course, only works if you actually have a place to take them because goodwill/salvation army won’t typically accept toys.

    2) we have explained to our kids that we need to get rid of some toys because we are running out of space in their toy room. then, we asked them to each pick 5 toys (or 10 toys) that they would be able to get rid of. that gives them complete control of the situation. they will usually start small (little plastic animals), but hey, at least it’s a start.

    all in all, we have always tried to include them in the maintaining process so they felt in control and part of the decision. i hope that one of those ideas will be helpful to you. our kids are 6 and 3 so pretty similar to yours.

  3. says

    I started off with minimal content in a small flat.

    5 years later, still have the small flat, now have a wife and we’re bursting at the seams; time for a huge clear out!

  4. Sarah says

    Before or after a Birthday, or Christmas, we tell our 5 and 6 yr old boys that we only have {this particular space} for toys and that in order to have room for our new items we need to find homes for other toys that are no longer played with. We then donate, or sell. When we sell, the boys get to keep the money and put toward a single item (if there is room in their toy area),or they put it into a savings account. Just today we the boys made $97 and are buying a much approved lego set, a minimalist “must-have” with kids as they can make many different toys out of one set! Other times they choose to use the money for a super special activity. They really like to even treat mom and dad to the activity. They feel so important and proud. When we donate, the children feel great giving to those who may not have the blessings we do. We have found that this really works for us in keeping our home a minimalist one.

  5. says

    One of the reasons why I love minimalism :) Before I started to think minimalistically, I had often problems with guilt and like “ahh, I can’t buy this beautiful red skirt as I already have three old ones and I’m not even wearing them”. It’s usually good to realise that you don’t need a new thing if you have an old one already, but sometimes it’s a silly acting, considering those old skirts are really old and ugly to me. I don’t wear them because I hate them and they don’t fit me. I would definitely wear the new bright one ’cause that’s the one my heart really longs for, that’s where I see perfection and that’s what I fell in love with. It’s so good to become intentional and minimalistic about your shopping, get rid of everything that you hate or don’t love, and make space for new things, that will respond to your needs and current style.

    • Kira says

      That’s how I’m approaching this journey, Em!

      Except I’m focusing on making lists of what I want to replace what I have (or already got rid of) rather than buying items right away; making do without for a while sometimes helps me realize a new object really wasn’t what I was looking for.

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