Joining the Modern Minimalist Family

How to adopt a minimalist mindset toward household consumption—plus a mindfulness practice for kids.

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Curbing consumerism is a growing trend for young families. You might even call it a movement. The Internet is rife with articles on how to do more with less and one mummy blogger went so far as to pledge to spend nothing on her baby for a year beyond necessities.

Adopting a minimalist approach is applauded by some children’s health professionals as well. In his book, The Good Life, psychotherapist Graham Music asserts that although kids are smarter today than ever before, their capacity for empathy and compassion has reached new lows, thanks to growing consumerism.

If you’re about to become a parent and are considering a minimalist approach, you may want to reflect on these tips from author and co-founder of the Inner Kids Foundation, Susan Kaiser Greenland:

1. Be clear about your motivation. Maybe, as a practical matter, you need to reduce your expenses, or want to deepen your connection with family and community while respecting resources. Consider what you want to accomplish.

2. Identify your ideals. Being thrifty is laudable but it’s not the only thing to think about. Be careful not to hold onto this one ideal so tightly it overshadows other equally important ones. If your family system begins to feel out of balance, it might make sense to ask yourself whether there’s another way to foster your principles.

3. Be flexible. If zero child-related spending sounds good in theory but your work schedule makes it impossible to trade disposable diapers for reusable ones, or it complicates your life rather than simplifies it, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater (pun intended). Meditate on other means to reinforce your values.

4. Be aware. Notice how one person’s spending decision is one link in a chain of cause and effect, both internal (how we feel about something) and external (affecting other people and the planet).

Another goal for your family might be bringing more mindfulness into your home. Here’s the “Stop, Breathe, Be” practice for kids and teens from Susan Kaiser Greenland.

For more tips to simplify, see “14 Way to Parent Lite.”

This article appeared in the October 2014 issue of Mindful magazine.
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