“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts from it.” – Joshua Becker (Clutterfree with Kids: Change Your Thinking. Discover New Habits. Free Your Life.)
Joshua Becker is one of my favorite online minimalist writers. His blog, becomingminimalist.com has a nice mix of inspirational posts and practical advice. However, the thing that really got me interested in his writing is that he has kids that weren’t much older than mine when his family started their minimalist journey a few years ago.
Our oldest daughter, who is four, says that she loves each and every one of her roughly 50 stuffed animals and can’t part with a single one. She may be one of our biggest obstacles to de-owning all spaces simply because she’s still learning the difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ and, unlike her younger sister, she notices when her toys move around. I don’t want to sneak around removing our kids’ stuff without their buy-in, so I was excited to read Joshua Becker’s book Clutterfree with Kids: Change Your Thinking. Discover New Habits. Free Your Life.
Clutterfree with Kids Review
Part I: The Case for Minimalism
If you read the Amazon reviews, you’ll notice that a lot of them say something like, “Not what I was expecting, but just what I needed.” I believe this is because most advice on clutter is simply about how to organize your clutter. Becker spends roughly the first half of the book making the case for why you should remove your clutter by “de-owning” it.
“There is more joy to be found in owning less than can ever be found in organizing more.” – Joshua Becker (Clutterfree with Kids)
Only when you’ve whittled your possessions down to what you really need and love will decluttering and maintaining a decluttered life become sustainable. He gives good advice like “start with the easiest possible place in your home” and put the items you can’t quite part with in a box with a date. If you’re already convinced that de-owning is for you or you’ve already realized that having fewer toys is actually good for your children, you can probably skip Part I.
Part II: Practical Advice Galore
Part II is where the book really takes off as it goes through all kinds of situations you’ll experience when trying to de-own with kids. There is a chapter on toys, clothes, art, sentimental items, collections, screens, photos, gifts, packing, schedules, and preparing for babies. This part is filled with practical ideas and is easy to skim when you have specific problems for which you need advice. We’ve adopted Becker’s advice to develop a confined space for toys and get rid of toys that exceed this space. I also got some great ideas for purging and curating my daughters’ artwork and I actually take and save fewer photos now (yes, that’s right, digital clutter can be just as stressful). This section alone makes the $5 price for the book completely worth it.
Part III: Free Your Life
The final part zooms out and covers a couple more general topics such as how to remain clutterfree, being clutterfree with a reluctant partner, and how to stop comparing your life to others and start living it! These sections are inspirational, but not as practical as Part II. You will still glean some excellent ideas from this section. For example, I wish someone had told me long ago to live off of one salary and save the second.
Overall, I’d give this book four out of five stars, simply because for an existing minimalist, Part I is not as beneficial as Parts II & III. It’s well-worth your money and your time, especially if, like me, you need to convince your family that minimalism is also for them.