one of my big things is working with DS to let things go that he's outgrown (infant toys, for example). Typically, I engage him in the process, but sometimes I just cull without him. He's only (nearly) 4, so this is the painless way.
i love having a capsule wardrobe. it's really the best thing ever. Just having less in general is super nice.
I'm not quite sure how to effectively word this, so I will just jump right in and hope you don't take anything as criticism, which it isn't meant as -
Originally Posted by zoebird
Q. If you have bare minimum for DS, why are you still very focused on weeding his stuff? Since you don't keep/get much in the first place, why not let him come to the realization that he is done with a developmentally outgrown toy all by himself? From infancy to 3 is not much of a distance - perhaps he isn't as done as parents think?
If he doesn't play with something for more than 6 months, he's effectively outgrown it.
He has christmas in Dec and Birthday in August. Every 6 months he gets new stuff from family (we tend not to buy him gifts because they buy more than enough). In October and April he gets clothing from them.
I cull the clothing he outgrows, because it takes up space that I need for the clothing that he can wear and/or will grow into. The same is true of toys.
He does get new toys. For example, he's getting a real bow and arrows (actual archery set that he can use for the next 5 years according to the maker because of how the pull increases over time). While sporting equipment, it needs to be stored wehre his toys are. If i'm holding onto his little "bead toy" that he hasn't touched in a year that's sitting on a shelf with a couple of other infant toys, where am I going to put his new archery stuff?
He has also asked for a baby doll (an actual baby doll, not stuffed toys that he has). We talked about letting go of the stuffed toys that he doesn't play with, so that other children can play with them, to make space for his doll (which he'll get for christmas). He's put aside about 5-6 stuffed animals that he didn't choose or didn't want to begin with (given to him by random folks when we moved here because they are kind and generous). So, we're passing those along to other children (we're giving them to the local organization that aids families whose children have terminal illness), and he'll have space for his doll.
Toy minimalism is important to me for three reasons: 1. DS is highly active and can get over stimulated. When he gets overstimulated, he gets aggressive. It's not his fault; it's how he tries to cope. By having fewer toys, he doesn't get over stimulated and can play with those toys more freely and creatively. 2. we live in limited space (500-600 sq ft), which means we have limited space. I simply do not have the space to store more toys than what I choose to keep in the house for him. It's a delicate balance to both meet his needs for stimulation without overstimulating while simultaneously balancing the realities of the storage of our home. I also do not want or need a larger home, so just going to rent a bigger space so that DS can have more toys because people are used to children living in a veritable toy store is just beyond silly in my mind. 3. I want to pass on these various values related to minimalism to my son.
Also, he has toys at the office: books, coloring books and art supplies, and lego. And he has a bicycle as well. So, it's not like the poor kid is deprived.
Ah. I get the overstimulation thing. I just have a huge developmental range in the house still - from the oldest (high school age) to the youngest there is only a 6-year span for my 4 kids, but my second youngest is developmentally delayed and she plays at a K or 6 y.o. level. So I have playthings for K through HS.
Originally Posted by zoebird
Moving to a big house in the country was our thing, and we love it. It wasn't to house the stuff - we have actually ditched a lot - it was to have more rooms with doors (in the country). For example: Third (the special-needs one) needs a lot of physical input for her sensory issues, but the weather does not always cooperate - so we built a space in the basement and made that into a so-called "gym" with padding on the floor and crash cushions and therapy balls. And we have a dedicated large playroom down there - Third doesn't sleep if there are any toys in the bedroom, so our bedrooms are totally feng-shui compliant: nothing but beds and clothes in the closet so all toys are housed in the playroom. Also - most of us love arts and crafts, so another room was built in the basement for all the indelible inks and such that Third really shouldn't get into without supervision, but tries to anyway - hence rooms with doors with locks. Otherwise, the house is open-floor-plan on the main floor. And having 2-1/2 baths for 6 humans is awesome. No bathroom lines when the grandparents come to visit or when SIL comes over with her 3kids.
I didn't think so at all. Not from a Steiner mom.
Originally Posted by zoebird
I had next to nothing growing up due to poverty, so I know that play can happen just as well with rocks in the creek, for ex. Even though we had very little, we still had to weed out even more because families of low-ranking military members going overseas get to bring next to nothing, and I have memories of having to choose between still-beloved toys. My mom probably could have done it in other ways, I don't know, but it made me wonder if your process was just going too fast. Like I said, no criticism was implied.
I think it's important to note that minimalism is not about amounts, but about space-use.
It sounds to me like you found something workable that keeps your life simple (ie, easy!), and that is what is important. Because ou have more people, in a wide variety of ages and a wide variety of needs, you have discovered what you need to have in order to really have a creative, happy, and restful environment.
I really think that's what "minimalism" and/or "simplicity" is. It's about really having what you need -- not more than you need, and not living without things that you do need -- and then keeping it and using it well. If your family does best with these specialized, designated spaces, then that's absolutely what is right for your family!
In our case, I decided that art would be an "outside" of our house activity. I discovered that having finger paints and art supplies in the house made me anxious. DS would color on walls, for example, and if I wasn't watching him like a hawk (heh! his name is Hawk!), then it would become a disaster that would take days to get really clean.
By choosing painting to only be done outside (honestly, at school or at his friend's house where families are either A. ok with the mess or B. have a specialized area like you do), I decreased my stress without sacrificing DS's exposure to doing painting. We have chalk and chalk board at the office, as well as colors, paper, and coloring books there. It's because we tidy it quickly, and those things can be tidied simply by DS. He also has lego there, which I kept there because I didn't want to step on them in the night at our house if I happen to miss one when we tidy here. It also makes going to the office "special" and "pleasurable" for DS, so he's able to have more fun there (he's there about 4-6 hrs a week -- usually no more than 2 hrs at a time).
I like living in a very small and efficient place -- while the idea of living in the country is *very* appealing, it's not for our family. DH and I are just "city folk" and that's how it is. I'm not even that happy in suburbia (though I like our view a lot). DH likes it here, but I'm like -- lets go back to the downtown! I have my eye on a similarly sized apartment in the downtown with a great view.
I've just learned over the years (and continue to learn) how I like to live. I'm always in a process of refining, learning how to balance all of these different needs that we have. DH has more of a "stuff-ness" about him, so understanding how to manage and contain that and balance it with my own need for "lack of stuff-ness" is an important part of the equation. It's important that no one feels "deprived" of what they need. That neither DH feels deprived of his stuff (nor DS), nor that I feel deprived of my need for lack of stuff.
It's an interesting balance to figure out.
I honestly thought that minimalism had equal components of both, in a kind of yin-yangy relationship.
Originally Posted by zoebird
This has nothing to do with anything, but if you go to the website, it may please you: Dwell Magazine. Try it out sometime. I think it might be appealing to your practical and aesthetic sensibilities. I borrow each issue from the library - Second is a fan, as am I.
Suburbia kind of stinks (my opinion) - you can't be as farm-y or wild or secluded or in contact with raw Nature as you can in the country, and it ain't the energy and interest of a city apartment either. My perfect set-up would be to keep this place but buy a big-city apartment to visit. Hope you get to that city apartment sooner rather than later!
Yeah, with the three competing "stuff-ness" categories, you do have a tightrope to walk!
I'm really inspired by Dwell and the Not So Big House ideology.
The second focuses on how you use space, and the first -- well, I love the subtitle "at home in the modern world."
The reality is that some people might say that "to be truly minimalist" you should "squeeze" your family into a smaller space. There's a beautiful (modern) home here in NZ that is really cool. I love the house -- but it's a choice. Would your family do well there? The kids all share a bunk-house and have the smallest amount of storage for their "stuff (clothing, personal items, toys and books). The lounge fits two chairs. There are three kids.
I think it's totally do-able, if that's what a family wants, and it's definitely minimalist and certainly fits within 'simplicity.' But I think it would *complicate* a lot of things for your family, and what they would have to sacrifice for it would not create happiness.
This is why I try not to tie "minimalism" with "number of objects." Because then it becomes a pissing contest of who-has-less and therefore is a "level 5 master minimalist!" or whatever. It's mostly about "what works for you? What is required for happiness, and what can be let go of?"
For me, the journey of moving into what is essentially a one-room cottage in a small beachy-suburb of a small (awesome) city has been a process of freedom. Releasing a lot of old stuff, a lot of old ideas about who I "must" be and how I "should" live has been amazing. My friends are often quite different from me -- they require more space, or more stuff, or both. It is simply how they want to live, and what makes their life "luxurious" -- but I feel the exact same way about my life. I do, honestly, feel like I'm living a "lux" life in this tiny little cottage.
But, it's really only possible if I continue to 'let go' -- to contain the amount of stuff we have. This is a process that I both enjoy and find truly liberating. But I know that the number of dresses or shoes or toys or whatever that we own would be "too little" for others.
I can recognize that the minimalism that I go to is not for everyone, and that the minimalism that others may go to (more minimal than I am) is not for me. There's a great little blog called "everyday minimalist" and she describes her life as a minimalist. She has more clothing and tech stuff than I do, but sleeps on a futon bed. I've done the futon bed, and prefer a bed. But I have less tech stuff. Is she more or less of a minimalist than I am? Is it defined in a hard/fast way?
I don't think it is, because every one's needs and understanding of what minimalism is -- is different. It might be living off grid (city or country) or mean 200 sq ft or 500 or 1000 or 2000 -- it just depends. It might mean any number of things.
I think we could do well in the house that I linked -- but it's just going to be the three of us. I don't want any more children (lots of reasons), and so having a bunk area for DS and his stuff, and then our own room and then a simple LDK would be awesome.
We have a loose plan to buy this plot and build on it (like i said, awesome view! ), and I probably wouldn't go above 1000-1200 sq ft. It might just be two bedrooms, you know? I don't think we need much more -- if we even need that. And the only reason to build? The cottage needs a lot of work. It would cost more to reno up to standard than to just start from scratch and get the modern, efficient, off-grid home that we want (and seriously, we have priced it). And maybe that would be 600-800 sq ft again. Or maybe it would be 1000. I don't know. I haven't built it yet.
But it's always an interesting exploration.
Neither, the true level five minimalist-
Originally Posted by zoebird
Don't ask how to make Lvl 6