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Kids Stuff and Minimalism

In one of my recent posts on minimalism in my digital life, I mentioned that such a path is a personal choice. While seemingly self-explanatory at the time, I realize that there are whole books about decluttering the stuff that children inevitably bring with them. As such, I wanted to expound on areas in which I feel I have little power to change anything at the moment.

My house has a unique layout. The reason I start here is the idea that the ability to live minimally is often tied to layout and design, whether intentionally or not. If I have five pieces of furniture in a room not meant for them, it doesn't matter that the number of pieces is small, the room will not work toward one of the major goals of minimalism: less stress. In my home, I have an almost prescient open floor plan, since the house was built in the late-1940s.

The main floor includes an L-shaped living room and accommodates traditional living and dining spaces, if you want to lay it out in that way. My wife and I have always been reorganizers, so we tend to rearrange spaces often in the attempt to find the best layout possible. We have no traditional dining space on our main floor because we don't need it often and we enjoy the flexibility that comes with moveable and ostensibly multipurpose furniture. In other words, our dining table is just a table and can act as a desk, a game space, etc. Our couch location accommodates a seating area, but also allows for the cook (read: me) to be around conversation in the living space. This is just a microcosm of the other spaces and the larger house, so I won't be going room by room, though people naturally treat different rooms in different ways.

However, our living spaces also includes kid stuff. There is the obvious: books, toys, games, puzzles, craft supplies, storage for all of the above. And the not so obvious: art work, work space, and more storage for the first list. Take into account then the desire to decorate for every holiday and the storage needs for that stuff and we are living in a minimalists nightmare. And it all spreads. No matter how good your minimalist storage system is, the kid stuff will spread unless you want to make clean up a full time job.

I think the ideal for me is that I treat each space uniquely but with a shared vision. Fewer things, more flexibility, less unnecessary fluff. Desires, needs, and hobbies will each come and go. The key is not holding on to things that no longer serve their purpose. Of course, storage will always be necessary, but ideally storage spaces are used as temporary for the items that serve their purpose as often as they can.

Some of these ideals might simply have to wait until I no longer have children under six years old.