Minimalist Parenting 101

by Inês Morais
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What is Minimalist Parenting?

Minimalist Parenting
“Mum and kids” by Jenni Pulkkinen

The generation of Baby Boomers were helicopter parents of Millennials. Baby-boomer parents earned notoriety for practices such as calling their children each morning to wake them up for class and complaining to their teachers about grades the children had received. As has happened throughout History, there’s a reaction to every generational trend or habit. Hence, minimalist parenting appeared.

The idea of minimalist parenting came to be when two moms, Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest, wrote the book Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Life More by Doing Less (you can find the best books about minimalism here). Naturally, the point of this book is giving more emotionally to children by giving less physically. Their approach involves not only less clutter but also less scheduling and a more subtle role in a child’s life. 

The authors define minimalist parenting both a “mindset and a set of recommendations for simplifying and streamlining” family life. 

Minimalist parenting is, thus, about doing more than hoovering over your kids – or, in this case, less. By reducing obligations and choices that overwhelm any parent that focuses unhealthily on their children, minimalist parents can take care of their children while still having time for themselves, their work, and their relationships. 

How to Become a Minimalist Parent?

minimalist parenting
“Mom and Dad” by António Cruz Rodrigues

Embrace the challenge

The first step towards becoming a minimalist parent is, of course, to evaluate why you need this change and then embrace the change. It’s important to focus on your new mindset and be ready to face all the challenges it may bring. 

Give your children space

It’s important to let your children live. Making mistakes and getting hurt play a big part in our learning process. Giving your children space will instill a sense of responsibility, which is crucial. 

Moreover, give space for your children to settle their own arguments with others. Practice in learning how to solve daily problems is something that kids benefit from acquiring sooner than later. 

Don’t schedule so much

Kids already have full days. From school to activities, parents more often than not make the mistake of burdening their kids with stuff to do, from Monday to Sunday. Children have classes, for which they’ll have to study later at home if they have time because then there are their extra-curricular activities. One of the most important things in childhood is the freedom to play. Children that are overloaded with chores don’t have time to play, which has an immense impact on them as teenagers and as adults.

Another priority in childhood is rest. Well, in fact, that’s a priority for all of us. Both children and parents need rest. Mental and physical health depend on making rest a priority!

Buy less

This a point that’s incredibly relevant nowadays. We know that clutter doesn’t benefit anyone: parents are stressed because the house is a mess and they will lash out at their children for not tidying their space. Buying your children less stuff helps solve that stress-inducing messiness issue and help your kids develop a mindset that allows them to focus their attention on important things rather than being dragged into the consumerist lifestyle of compulsive wanting. Spending time with loved ones instead of buying toys to keep your children entertained will surely make them happier as kids and consequently as adults who’ll be able to reminisce about a pleasant childhood. 

Minimalist Parenting at Different Ages

minimalist parenting
“Green Balloon” by Denise Parks

Minimalism might sound harder to apply, having younger kids. Babies and toddlers require more attention and stuff than teenagers, however, here are a few tips, shared by The Fun Sized Life, on how to parent minimalistic at every age:

Pregnancy

  • Declutter your home to it doesn’t get (too) messy
  • Take time for yourself – go for walks, enjoy your partner’s company, and nap while you can.
  • Seek professional help before registering so you know what your baby will need.
  • Start a savings account for your child. 
  • Stockpile diapers to avoid running out of diapers unexpectedly – it’ll reduce your stress!

Birth – Age 2

  • Keep toys to a limit – sometimes kids care more about the simpler things than the large, complex, expensive toys.
  • Automate what you can, as grocery shopping and pharmacy runs through apps, for example. 
  • Make simple and healthy meals because not only will it save you time but it’s also what kids need. 
  • Get sleep. Nothing can be properly done without some rest. Try taking a nap at the same time as your baby. 
  • Don’t forget to take time for yourself. It’s important you feel great so you can give the best of you to your kid.

Ages 2 – 5 

  • Get out of the house. Going for walks, romantic dates with your partner or just enjoying fresh air can improve your mood quickly.
  • Let your child be creative through color.
  • Let them play alone every day so they can work around boredom. They must learn to be by themselves and enjoy it. 
  • Skip screen time. It’s unhealthy to keep your kids quiet and still by putting a tablet or phone on their hands in public places. Letting your kids be kids, within the boundaries of societal coexistence, is the best option when it comes to parenting. Less screen time as kids will be rewarding in the future. 
  • Answer their crazy amount of questions to encourage their quest for knowledge. It’s not always easy to keep one’s cool – and some questions are truly preposterous, at the lack of a better word – but giving them the drive for seeking questions is the right thing to do. Simple answers will do – don’t complicate. 

Ages 5 – 10

  • Set location restrictions for toys so you can start teaching them boundaries firmly. 
  • Start encouraging chores. Start small and keep the chores fitting to their age level.
  • Choose neutral bedroom décor to facilitate your life and to give room for your child to get creative with their space.
  • Have simple birthday parties. Keeping it simple will allow you to enjoy the party and your kid will still love it.
  • Let them read bedtime stories to you. Be it a whole story or just a few pages, it’s both a way to allow them to improve their reading skills and it can also boost their confidence!

Ages 10 – 15

  • Be open and honest. This is the time of changes. Your kid will begin to go through a lot of different feelings towards the world and themselves. If they come to you with questions, be open and honest. Never let them feel like their genuine curiosity makes you uncomfortable. Trust is key.
  • Let them help with making dinner. Be sure your kid gets familiar with the kitchen from a young age. Soon enough, you’ll be able to take some load off your shoulders and make the little chef responsible for the meal. You can make this a weekly thing so they can practice regularly. But they’ll be in charge: they should choose the meal. Be patient with mistakes. We all make them when we’re still learning!
  • Encourage them to face their problems. Parents have the tendency to try and solve all their kids’ problems. It’s not easy to stand by and watch your kids suffer because of something you could probably fix. Well, don’t fix it. It’s important they fight their own battles. They can’t grow up if you’re always behind them, cleaning up the messes they make. You can accompany them, but they’re responsible for their actions.
  • Embrace their changing personality. Whatever their tastes, dreams, and desires are, as long as they’re healthy, try to be supportive. Remember that you don’t get to project your wishes on your offspring. Let your kid live their life and be there for them when the time comes. Embrace who they are.

Ages 16 – 18

  • Remain calm. Teenagers are complicated, but when you feel like they’re driving you crazy, pause and take a deep breath. Puberty is just a phase, and you can still discuss boundaries with your kid to make life easier. Just remember to count to ten and remain calm!
  • Help them start a budget and teach them how to manage money. Share your stories, your failures, and successes so they can simultaneously trust you to share their failures and successes with you and so they can learn from you. Encouraging them to pay at least one of their bills can be very rewarding because it will show them how it feels to manage money to pay bills and they will feel more grown-up (a feeling all teenagers seek for incessantly).
  • Encourage them to work. Having a job as a teenager helps build character and develop a sense of responsibility. It can help them to manage schedules, adapt to the workplace, learn to work with people in a workplace environment, and give them experience as they walk towards adulthood.
  • Spend time one on one with your child. They’re not a kid anymore. If before you played the role of the boss, as they grow older, you might be closer to finding a friend. You can plan a trip or just stay home, relaxing and chatting for a while.

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