Ep 54: Making Room for More with Minimalism
Christine Koh, author of Minimalist Parenting, reveals how to get more out of your family life by doing LESS. She says “minimalism” isn’t about getting rid of apps and toilet paper, it’s about making room for the stuff that helps your family thrive while cutting back on everything else.
Full Show Notes
Do you ever look back on a week and feel like you’re spending 90% of your family time doing stuff you don’t really love? Isn’t parenting supposed to be rewarding and inspiring at least 50% of the time? Why does it so often seem exhausting and overwhelming?
Christine Koh knows all about this feeling. This lady does a lot every day. She runs five businesses, hosts a podcast, works as a freelance writer, and speaks around the country! On top of that, she is raising a family and trying to be a good wife and member of her community.
A minimalist mindset has helped her keep everything in balance and she breaks down exactly how she does it all in her practical and humorous book Minimalist Parenting. As she explained to me this week on the podcast, minimalism isn’t just about having less stuff or living without toilet paper, it’s a mentality that will allow you to make more room for the things you actually want to be doing in your family life and your professional life.
She shared some really insightful hacks with me during our interview, including:
- how to use the simple but effective “More and Less List”
- Christine’s philosophy about teens getting jobs
- tips for cleaning out your teen’s (and your own) “stuff”
- ways to mitigate an over-abundance of stuff in the first place
- a lesson on traveling with your teen
Set your family up to thrive by making more room in your lives for the things that are truly important to you, both in your home and on your calendar. By engaging in the minimalist practices Christine explains on this episode, you and your teenagers will be forced to re-examine your deepest values and decide what you truly want to stand for.
Bonus: Clean-Out Tips from a Minimalist Parent
A few things you can implement with your teen:
- Resist upsizing. Never buy more storage space (e.g. an extra set of drawers). If something doesn’t fit, get rid of something else! When your teen runs out of closet space for their shoes and clothes, it’s time to give away some old stuff!
- For the myriad art projects: give every kid/teen a box in the basement to put their favorite pieces in. When it’s full, it’s up to your teen to decide what they want to keep in the box.
- Some items do conjure up special memories and it can be hard to part with them. A few things you can do are make a display out of the items – whether it’s framing a newspaper clipping or putting some knickknacks in a shadow box or making a quilt out of old t-shirts. If it really is special, find a way to bring it out into the open!
- Have a “quarantine” area. If your teen or another family member is having an awful time parting with something but they don’t have a place for it, designate it to “live” in a special quarantined area for four to six months. If no one has thought about it or used it in that time, that’s permission to get rid of it. But remember, the rule applies to your stuff too!
- Be proactive: Join a local “Buy Nothing” group or similar organization on Facebook. If there’s not one in your area, you can easily start a swap group on Facebook for the street in your neighborhood. Encourage your teen to join! Instead of buying new things, group members are encouraged to offer up items they no longer use (prom dresses, toys, boxes of Mac and cheese they bought in bulk and ended up not liking, tools, yard games) all for free.
The 24-minute public version is free to listen to, and the 36-minute extended version, packed with extra goodies, is reserved for site members. Log in or start a free trial to access everything our site has to offer!
Step-by-step guides for applying the ideas from this interview
1. Stop Nagging Your Teen and Focus on Progress Instead:
Does it ever feel like your teenager is dragging their feet on a project when they should really just be getting started? As Christine explained during our interview, it can help improve your teen’s motivation if you help them focus on ways in which they’ve already made some progress (even if it’s very minimal). To take advantage of this psychology, grab a piece of paper and write down two things your teenager has been dragging their feet on. Below each of these, write down what progress your teen has already made. Even just thinking about the project or telling you about it counts! Try to come up with at least 3 things that your teen has already done for each of the two projects you wrote down. Next time you have the urge to nag your teenager about one of these things, try focusing on what they’ve already done instead. Give them a compliment and say you’re proud of the work they’ve done so far. Be specific about exactly what “work” you mean.
2. Rethinking Values: Getting Specific:
3. Get More of What You Want (and Less of What You Don’t) From Your Teenager:
4. Connect and Make Memories with a Special Parent-Teen Trip:
About Christine Koh
A former music and brain scientist, Christine now works as a writer, speaker, designer, and consultant. She is the founder and editor of the award-winning blog Boston Mamas, the graphic designer behind Posh Peacock, co-author of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less, and a digital strategist at The Mission List. Christine has been featured in the New York Times, Redbook, Boston Magazine, The Boston Globe, Parents Magazine, National Public Radio, ABC News, and other fine media outlets. She lives in the Boston area with her husband Jonathan and daughters Laurel and Violet.