Let’s be honest — millennials have a bad and largely unearned reputation simply because they do things a little differently than previous generations. Instead of the white picket fence and the 2.5 kids, they enjoy smaller homes and new types of family dynamics.
Instead of starting at the bottom and working their way up through one company, millennials are starting more businesses or spending their time turning creative endeavors into profitable ones.
And instead of cluttering up their homes with furniture and material goods, more millennials have decided to opt for a more minimalist lifestyle. Why are so many millennial parents choosing to keep things minimal?
Choice vs. Necessity
There are two types of minimalist — people who choose to do so and those who live a minimalist lifestyle by necessity. The minimalist lifestyle is showcased by the lack of a need for material goods. Instead of basing their value on the items they own, they base the value of their life on their experiences and relationships. It’s an idealistic lifestyle, but for many people, it’s the best way to make the most of their income and resources.
Dropping Square Footage
Two words — tiny houses. These little houses are designed to make the most of the square footage available, which is usually less than 500 sq ft. These houses utilize space-saving techniques to fit everything you need into a small space.
Most also rely on windows and natural lighting to make the space look infinitely larger than it actually is.
For families or parents with children, these tiny houses can provide a unique opportunity because many can be hitched to a trailer and towed anywhere in the country. There’s nothing quite like falling asleep in one state and waking up to an entirely new vista for you — especially for curious young minds.
Unfortunately, some cities have started making tiny houses illegal. Their small size means they’re classified as additional apartments rather than main homes and, as such, cannot be the primary residence on a property. On the other side of that coin, though, some communities are making it easier to own tiny houses by relaxing zoning and building rules to allow these tiny homes to be built.
Parenthood seems to come with its own obligatory form of clutter — from the time the kids are born, you find yourself buried in toys, clothes and diapers. Cutting out the clutter can be tricky, but it’s one of the primary reasons so many millennial parents are leaning toward the minimalist lifestyle.
According to a recent poll, the average adult woman has around 120 items of clothing in her closet at any given time, but an average of 80% of those items go unworn. With kids, the primary source of clutter comes from toys, so it’s essential to find the right balance of kids to toys so you don’t end up with crates upon crates of things that never get played with.
Drop Everything and Go
Everyone wants to travel the world, but it’s hard to do when you’ve got a big house with a big mortgage that’s filled with big stuff.
That’s one of the biggest draws of the minimalist lifestyle — it’s much easier to drop everything and travel the world.
Anything that doesn’t fit in a couple of suitcases can either be put in storage or just left behind to be replaced when — or if — you decide to return. For millennial parents, there is the additional bonus of being able to teach their kids about the world firsthand, rather than learning everything from books.
Traveling with kids gives them a unique perspective on what they learn in class, such as history or political science, and an appreciation for other cultures you’ll never get if your only exposure to other cultures is the local Mexican restaurant.
Focus on What Matters
When you look around you, what do your eyes linger on? Surrounded by material goods, it can be harder to focus on the things that really matter — your friends, your family and your experiences.
That, beyond anything else, is what the minimalist lifestyle is all about.
Instead of focusing on what you want to buy someone for Christmas or their birthday, you tend to focus on what memories you can create for them. For a minimalist, a flash drive full of pictures of your last trip together is worth more than an expensive frame to put them in. Memories are more important than material goods, and the experiences behind those memories are the best currency of all.
This focus tends to make minimalists more likely to step out of their comfort zone, both at home and at work, and, because of this, they tend to be more eager step up and lead others. One survey found minimalists are more likely to become leaders because they want to empower others. The focus and clarity provided by living a minimalist lifestyle is an essential tool shaping the leaders of today and tomorrow.
You don’t have to throw away all your stuff to live a minimalist lifestyle. Instead, focus on getting rid of the clutter in your life. Reducing clutter can help you to de-stress in addition to making your home or workplace look much nicer. If you decide you want to keep going, simply remove one thing at a time and see how it works with your lifestyle.
Don’t jump feet-first into a minimalist lifestyle unless that’s how you started out — you’ll find you don’t want to continue and it might make you bitter. Instead, start small and see how each step makes you feel. If you start to feel bitter, take a step back and see where you need to stop.
Minimalist parenting might seem like a challenge, but it’s a lot easier than you’d think. Instead of focusing on the things you buy your kids, spend your time focusing on the experiences you have with them. When memories become more meaningful than things, you’ll know you’ve done the right thing.