As I have been getting rid of stuff, I have realized that a huge part of keeping my house simplified is coming up with a system to minimize what stuff comes into my home.
Purchase Consumables || Encourage family members to purchase consumables. My kids have the opportunity to earn money each week. Once they earn it, they want to spend it. I encourage them to spend on consumables. Treats, art supplies, clothing, or a trip to the movies, things that they can use up. When they get that birthday money, could they spend it on a memorable activity? An experience such as a day trip to a museum, or an amusement park, or to a play, something they will remember forever.
Use Up Perishables || When we receive those candles, lotions, notepads, art supplies, treats, we need to use them up. These items can collect and after a few months or years they just aren’t as fun to use. I try to make a point of using the fun new whatever right when I get it.
Look At Non Consumable Items As Consumables || I look at many items in our home (such as toys, books, and decorations) as things that are enjoyable to play with for a few months and then we are ready to let them go. The item was fun and served its purpose, it was useful to us for the time we spent playing with it, and now we are ready to let it go.
Ask For Consumable Gifts || Let family members know you enjoy consumable gifts. I always have a hard time telling people what to get for our kids, but when I am asked, I give them a list of consumable items.
Celebrate Experiences || We are toying with the idea of doing this more, especially as our children get older. We still purchase at least one toy (or more) for birthdays and for Christmas. Times that by four children and all the other gifts they may receive, it adds up to a lot of items coming into our home per year. We have been chatting about gifting our children experiences for birthdays and Christmas versus giving them gifts. We have to experiment with this but we see real value in focusing more on these types of gifts.
Set An Amount || This is the idea of one item coming into the home means that one item must leave your home. We focus on going through our belongings a couple times a year. We go through our toys and stuff right before summer birthdays (my three oldest are summer birthdays) and right before Christmas. We purge the old to make room for the new. This also helps me in the buying department. How many pairs of jeans do my children need, how many pads of paper? If I have an idea of what we have I can limit what we bring in.
Encourage Collections || This may seem counterintuitive since it encourages buying more, but I have found that when you add to collections it almost doesn’t feel like one more thing added to your home. Though I encourage my children and family and friends to buy consumables, I know that my kids sometimes still want something bright and shiny and new. I know the feeling, it is fun to have something fun and new. Collections can help solve this problem. The child or grandparent is able to buy a new toy, but when we bring it into our home, it is just added to the collection. It doesn’t feel like it takes up too much space because it already has a place. I can see how this could easily get out of control but I think there is value in focusing on collections. It can be a great tool to keep things simple and minimal.
Reward With Consumables or Experiences || I remember potty training my oldest with cheap toy prizes. These often ended up broken or in the goodwill pile after a few weeks. Now I try to reward with experiences or consumables. I few things we reward with are extra screen time, ice-cream cones, sitting in the front seat, staying up late to watch a movie, choosing what we do for the day, getting the mail, and going on errands alone with mom or dad are just a few ideas of rewards that do not add items to your home.