My son is 17 and my daughter is 14.
But when we first began pursuing minimalism, my son was only 5 and my daughter was 2. Which means, they’ve seen us trying to live a minimalist life as young kids, as elementary-aged kids, and now as they enter the end of their high school years.
And whether we like it or not, our kids are learning from us. They are learning about values and worldview and how to live their lives when they become adults.
I know this isn’t the case for everyone. But personally, I’m happy to know we chose a more minimalist life while our kids are still at home. They’ve learned valuable lessons (or at least I hope they’ve learned some valuable lessons from us).
Here are seven ways minimalism has impacted my kids:
1. They’ve learned that they don’t need to buy things to be happy.
For the rest of their lives, advertisers will barrage them (and us) with the message that our life needs more. That happiness will appear if we buy whatever they’re selling.
Many people will believe it and buy into it, and start chasing and accumulating things that they don’t need to be happy. My children have seen, from us, that you don’t need to own a lot of things to be happy.
2. They’ve learned that you don’t have to live like everyone else.
You don’t have to live like everyone else on your block… or in your neighborhood… or in society. Everyone else may be chasing bigger houses and nicer cars and changing fashion, but you don’t have to live like that if you don’t want. In fact, you’ll probably be happier if you don’t.
3. They’ve learned the value of living within their means.
No matter what their income level might be, as they get older, they won’t need to overspend it to find happiness. In fact, quite the opposite is true: When we begin overspending our income is when we start adding unnecessary burden and stress to our lives—rather than finding contentment with what they have.
4. They’ve learned the importance of being deliberate in their purchases.
As my kids have gotten older and found new hobbies and passions and pursuits, there are purchases that have accompanied those new pursuits and new passions.
But each time, they’ve seen us be deliberate and intentional thinking through the next purchase asking questions like “What do you actually need in order to begin playing this new sport or starting this new hobby? What do we already have that will work? What are the needs that you have in order to do it well?”
5. They’ve learned the importance of sharing with others.
Generosity is the byproduct of minimalism. My children have seen us get rid of the things we don’t need and donate them to be shared with others. They’ve seen us become generous with our finances. And that our time and excess can be used to solve problems around the world.
6. They’ve learned the value of spending time together.
As we’ve owned fewer possessions, we’ve wasted less time cleaning and organizing and maintaining all the stuff that we used to have. We’ve been able to spend more time together, making memories together, enjoying experiences together.
The greatest gift we can ever give to someone else is our time. I’m confident my children have learned that over the last decade.
7. They’ve learned they are in control of their stuff, not the other way around.
The old adage is true, “The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you.” I’m just convinced most people don’t realize how much of a burden their possessions have become until they begin to remove them.
That being said, to live is to consume. There are needs that we have and things that we own in order to fulfill our purpose and live the life that we want to live.
But you don’t have to own so much stuff that your possessions begin to dictate your life. You own your stuff, not the other way around.
There are countless values and life lessons that I want my kids to learn from me, but the importance and value of owning less is definitely near the top. It will set them up for a lifetime of potential.