Minimalism + a Toddler: Where to Start

If you’ve ever felt like it’s impossible to keep your home clean and you’re wondering why you have so much stuff — this is for you. And honestly it’s for everyone but especially for those with little ones at home!

Right before we moved to Hoboken we watched “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” on Netflix and I realized this was the answer I had been looking for.

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Watch it! If you only have 10 min check out this TED Talk featuring Maura Malloy for a quick rundown on living simply.

Most of what I’ve watched and read on minimalism is created by singles, married couples without children, or by one couple with children in grade school. Which left me empty-handed in my search for how to live a minimalist lifestyle with a toddler at home.

So here’s how we’re doing it!

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WHERE WE STARTED: Clothes. A big inspiration for me has been Jennifer L. Scott who lived in Paris as a foreign exchange student and wrote a book about what she learned from the family she lived with about always looking your best with a small, high-quality wardrobe. We got rid of any clothes we hadn’t worn in the past year, anything with holes, and anything that we didn’t fit into anymore. We’ve gone through our clothes a few times over the past two years and gotten more serious about getting rid of things each time. Eventually we decided to develop capsule wardrobes so that’s what we’re in the process of putting together right now – even for Calvin.

Having a capsule wardrobe for your kids means they can get themselves dressed and no matter what they put on – it’ll coordinate! It means less decision confusion – that feeling you get when you’re staring into your closet and think you have nothing to wear – because all of your clothes will go together and you’ll love each piece you have.

It also means less laundry! Wahoo!

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Calvin’s tops go in the second drawer and his bottoms and pajamas go in the third drawer. That’s it!  He wears 75% of his clothes every week and I don’t feel like I’m wasting space with those clothes kids never wear. The right basket is his laundry hamper so it’s super convenient when I’m changing him.

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RULE OF THUMB FOR TODDLERS: Designate a space for toys. Toys can take over your home if you let them, which is why I’m SO glad we’re working towards minimalism while Calvin is still young. We don’t keep any toys in the living room — all of Calvin’s toys stay in his room and have a place to go. We bring them out to the living room to play sometimes but they always go back before naptime/bedtime.

For the most part, we’ve been trying to limit his toy collection to the two white bins at the bottom of his bookcase and his books to the shelf above it. We went through his toys before Christmas and I set aside anything that was either no longer age appropriate or items he didn’t play with as often. We were in a really good place…and then we had Christmas! We had a wonderful holiday and enjoyed our time with family but I had to go back to the drawing board to figure out if and where to keep everything.

It happens more often than I’d like but it’s always good to assess where you’re at on a journey and look for ways to improve along the way.

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We gifted the kitchen + play food to Calvin this year for Christmas and he absolutely loves it! It’s been a great new addition that’s added value to his imagination play and I love seeing him cook and be more interested in helping me in our kitchen.

His closet is currently housing a shallow bin of Duplos, two puzzles, his grey/white teepee, this IKEA rug for driving his cars on and a puppet that Mr. Layland couldn’t live without named Pedro – he’s teaching Calvin Spanish 🙂 Right now this works for us but I’m considering a roll-out bin that will fit under his crib for those toys.

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THE BEST PART: Having less to keep up with! Even when Calvin pulls out ALL of his books and toys from his bins (like he did last week) it takes less than 5 minutes to clean it all up. It’s helping him really use the toys he has and helping us both have less stress in our lives. So far it’s working really well and he’s a fantastic picker-upper!

THE HARDEST PART: Gifts. You control what you bring into your home but you can’t always control what others give you. We’re doing our best to ask for things our entire family can enjoy, things we need, or experience-based gifts. Despite a few bumps in the road I think it’s going pretty well so far!

So that’s where we’re at in this journey towards minimalism with a toddler!

If there is something specific you’re curious about please leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to fit it into a future post! I’d also love any ideas you’ve tried and love!

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