I read Clutterfree with Kids by Joshua Becker on the airplane home from a meetup recently. It’s a good, quick read for anyone looking to learn more of the benefits of decluttering their lives. I think the tips and themes mentioned work well for anyone looking to live a more stress-free life, not just those with kids.
In this book, Becker highly emphasizes the idea of not just decluttering, but changing habits. New ways to think about how each purchase will affect your life. How much extra time and attention will this new thing use? How long until it becomes largely unused or set aside for the next thing? We have finite resources in money, time, space, and attention. We should use it wisely.
If you can change your habits of buying and think more about keeping just the essentials, the minimalistic lifestyle starts to get easier. Everything should have a defined boundary for storage (like toys, books, photos, collections) and in order to add new items you must remove items. “Removing to add” forces you to think hard about the value of that new thing you want to buy. He calls this intentional living — being very intentional about what you choose to bring into your life, whether physical or mental/emotional.
Minimalism with kids?
The mention of “with kids” in the title of this book is actually largely unnecessary in my opinion. Most of the points made and advice given are generalized, with only a few things framed from the perspective of having kids involved.
However, Becker writes on the benefits of minimalism with kids in terms of the lessons we can teach and gifts we can give. These gifts are not physical gifts, but greater gifts like character traits we all want to see in our kids as they grow.
For example, “significance over success” is one that I hope my kids grow to learn. Success is measured in terms of stuff and financial success, but also ends the day you die. Significance continues even when you’re gone and is much more satisfying to our soul.
Sprinkled throughout the book are only a few practical examples of how to handle clutter with kids.
What’s in the book?
He writes in length about the benefits of minimalism, de-owning (not just decluttering), and intentional living before getting into some tips. Owning too much stuff depletes our resources like money, time, and energy. But owning less also provides us with the opportunity to redirect those resources towards things that matter most: contentment, generosity, appreciation, and more.
Each section tackles a part of your life that can be de-cluttered. Some are easier like toys and clothing, but other things like sentimental items are harder. He wisely suggests starting small with the easier items, so when you get to the family heirlooms and keepsakes you have a better idea of how to handle them.
What I do like about this book is each section isn’t just a list of tips. It starts with an anecdotal story, then goes into detailed advice about steps to take, and finally asks some questions to get the reader thinking about how these suggestions and ideas can be applied to their own life.
A strong theme throughout the book is the time-honored idea that money can’t buy happiness. We all know that and all readily admit it, yet we still continue to compare our lives to others. The final point is to “stop comparing your life and start living it”.
I recommend this book for those looking to learn about the benefits of minimalism with a little bit of practical advice on how to get there. No kids necessary.