My 5-Year Old Minimalist

It’s hard to find writing done by people who have raised their children minimalistically.  I remember searching through articles and blogs, looking for success stories.  What I mainly found, at that time, were pointers for getting your children used to the idea that you were adopting a simpler lifestyle.  I wondered if we were doing the right thing, by actually raising our child counter-culturally, from birth.

My research led me to write this post, about the benefits of simplicity, for everyone.  And, as I left Facebook, I have corresponded with many minimalists who have successfully raised their children this way, “before it was cool.”  It was heartening to hear so many success stories, and not one negative. 

So, here we are.  My daughter is 5 years old.  She has attended public preschool for 2 years.  And she doesn’t own a television (although she does watch Netflix when she is sick, and we occasionally have a family movie night), has never watched a Disney movie, has been given equal access to “boys'” and “girls'” toys, and enjoys a hot, homemade breakfast everyday. 

What surprises have we seen?  Plenty!

  • Beanie does know all the names of the Disney princesses, through osmossis.
  • She has a VERY strong love of reading. 
  • Beanie has excellent problem-solving skills, and tries to find solutions on her own, before coming to us.
  • She hates it when people are doing anything threatening to children in movies (She especially hated “Brave” when she saw it at a friend’s house–she couldn’t finish it!).
  • She also gets mad when characters in movies talk back to adults.
  • She does not really recognize ownership–and she prefers other children to toys.
  • Beanie definitely prefers living on the boat, and talks about it frequently.
  • Her play is 50/50, as far as “boy” activities and “girl” activities.  She’ll play with toy trucks, while wearing a princess costume. 
  • She is comfortable entertaining herself.

I would say, at this point, raising our daughter minimalistically is working out well.  What have your experiences been?

Playing children clip art

7 thoughts on “My 5-Year Old Minimalist

  1. What I find the most fun about talking to other minimalist parents is how different every family is. I’ve raised my three girls minimistically, but we’ve also been very influenced by radical unschooling so my girls have seen every Disney movie, and have free access to the tablet and computer in addition to lots of outside play time, library trips, dolls, cars, trains, dressups and the normal kids stuff. One daughter could care less about things, and the other LOVES her toys. Every. Single. One. They’re all very interested in wearing princess dresses and hair and I consider myself a bit more of a tomboy. Ultimately I’ve decided it’s important for me share my values with them, but in the end they are still their own person with their own needs and those might be different than mine and that’s okay and (especially with my minimalism) there is space in our home to honor all of our passions. : )

    I think minimalism definitely puts the perspective on the people in our lives and that helps influence everyone around us.

  2. I can look at this from the point of view of seeing the results as they now play out in my adult children’s lives. While I wouldn’t say we were complete minimalists, we didn’t have nearly as much as those around us in our community. For my oldest he always saw the glass half full and wanted the bigger house and all the trappings. My youngest loved his life and never really asked for more. My boys went to public school through grades 4 and 6, and after that were home schooled/unschooled. I saw them return to the children they were before school and the pressure to fit in. Reading and exploring became much more important than watching programs they knew would be talked about on the bus to fit in.

    As adults, I can’t say they are minimalists, but they aren’t hugely materialistic either. Their homes are average size (1200 and 1400 sq ft), they aren’t out shopping all the time, and they spend more time with their children than their peers with families. One has adopted the family bed with their children. And both my sons tend to spend more money on experiences with their children than toys.

    I will say that my oldest went through a period of wanting all the things he didn’t have growing up, again that glass is half full mentality, until he got into debt and realized his credit would prevent him from having the life he really wanted. He cleaned up his debt and began to take on the values he grew up with.

    So looking back from where they are today, I’d say raising a child in any way that is different from the norm is difficult when in public/private schools but much easier when they are home schooled and can chose their friends and experiences. They will take what they learned, even though it might take a while and build on it.

    • Thank you for sharing, Lois. I think it is very neat that you were able to (quite successfully) home school your boys WHILE being a single, working-outside-of-the-home parent. 🙂

Join the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s