Today's guest is one of my serious mom crushes and minimalist heroes, Alison from 600 Sq Ft and a Baby. She has two kids in 600 square feet (!!) and you can follow her here.
Alison's lovely family, minus baby Mae who came later :)
1. What does minimalism mean for your family?
us, minimalism has been a gradual journey that I hope we always
continue. Initially our efforts to have less things stemmed from not
having enough space. Our choice to live small dictated a more minimalist
lifestyle. But by living small for so long we have realized that
"things" don't really make us happy. In fact too many "things" can be
overwhelming and cause stress. Having less things is actually quite
freeing. And though I used to shy away from the term minimalist, it is
hard to deny that we lean that way and benefit from a more minimalist
And if you knew me in my twenties
you would find this quite funny because my favourite thing to do would
be to spend an entire day shopping! I looooved shopping, finding a deal
or hunting down that perfect item. I still love the thrill of a good
chase but I've realized the shopping high wears off and you are just
left with "stuff". Now I find much more joy in the one perfect pair of
boots I wear everyday. Or the t-shirt that fits just right and can
withstand so many washes that I wear it at least once a week. There's
also the joy in simplicity. Choosing my daily clothes from a handful of
items because as a mom I hardly have time to shower let alone try on
It's funny... the things we hold
onto because we think we need it or might use it one day, or loved it
once upon a time. Because we purge/edit our house about once a month we
have become acutely aware of the things we bring into our home that
quickly leave. We have realized how wasteful we can be and it is a great
deterrent to fast, thoughtless consumerism. We have very much adopted a
"quality over quantity policy" for most of our belongings ( though this
concept is always a work in progress!). Sometimes we can't buy quality
the moment we want to, so often we will wait and do without until we
can afford the right quality item.
Before we buy anything (except groceries) we ask ourselves...
Do I really need this?
Do I have something like it already?
Could I wait and do without it for awhile?
Is it beautiful and useful?
Could I borrow or rent it instead?
return for this more thoughtful way of consuming goods we have gained
so much. We are able to stay in our small space and have a walkable
city lifestyle. We get outside a lot and experience our city. I find we
are also more connected with our community as we are often out in it
rather than just staying in our home. I've also started realizing that
living small and more minimally is more environmentally sustainable but
that is for a whole other conversation.
2. How has minimalism influenced your family's culture (i.e. how you parent)?
is 3.5 years old and Mae is almost 7 months so we are still carving out
our parenting style and adapting to two kids. With Theo we talk a lot
about what toys he plays with and which ones he doesn't. We often ask
him if there are any toys he hasn't been using that he would like to
give to another boy or girl. When we donate toys or things, we walk
We also spend more time doing
activities with him like going for a walk or to the park. And we try
not to reward him with toys or presents and instead reward him with
activities or time together. For example, if he's been behaving well we
will go for a bike ride, or play with the soccer ball at the park, or go
to the Aquarium rather than buy him a new toy. It's too early to tell
but we hope that we will instill in him the value of having experiences
and relationships over things.
The act of
borrowing and lending has become very integral to our minimalist
family. Due to our limited space and our intention to live more
minimally, we lend out many of our baby/kid things to friends. This
unexpectedly has come back around, where friends lend us their items
when we need them. We are loving this idea of sharing kids items among
friends as most of our city dwelling friends lack space as well.
Moreover it feels so wasteful to use some baby gear and toys for such a
short period of time. For us, the more wear, use and love a key
baby/toddler item can get, the better. Because some of Theo's toys or
Mae's items are borrowed we spend time explaining to Theo about sharing
and treating others' things carefully and respectfully.
4. What's the hardest part about living minimally for your family?
so easy to compare yourself or your family to other families and I am
not immune to feeling guilty at times about our minimalist choices. If
we visit friends who have a big playroom with tons of toys or a big
backyard with a bouncy castle and sandbox etc. I will sometimes worry
that in some way we are depriving our kids.
5. What's the easiest/best part about your minimalist lifestyle?
best part is all the adventures we have been on as a family of 3 and
hope to go on as a family of four. By focusing less on buying things,
we are able to save up for weekend trips away and bigger trips abroad.