Being a minimalist is something I end up talking to my kids about every so often because they are all minimalists. Most of the time they only want to do the bare minimum when asked to do something. Fortunately, this doesn’t apply to their schoolwork but rather times when they are asked to do something around the house and in other situations. For example, if there are three books on the floor that all go on the bookshelf in the same spot but my son only read two of them, he will only put those two away when asked (and reminded) to clean up and will leave the third on the floor. They often moan and groan at being asked to do simple chores like bring in the recycling bins. If I ask them to throw a food wrapper away that was left somewhere right near where they are sitting, I usually get, “That’s not mine.” or “I didn’t put it there, so why should I have to clean it up?” as a response. When there is a large amount of stuff in one room to be cleaned up, I sometimes get asked, “What is the minimum amount I need to do right now?” They want to get back to or don’t want to be pulled away from what they want to do.
I realize this is pretty typical for kids because I was also a minimalist when I was a kid. At some point though I started to think about what I could do to be helpful to other people and how it would make them feel, rather than always thinking about how it would impact me. I think of doing something for someone else as a way to make their life better or easier and make them feel good, rather than think about how much more work or time it is going to involve for me. I know how good it feels to have done something that I didn’t have to do for someone else, which is the pay off for me. I am trying to help my kids experience that and hope they will remember how it feels so that they will want to do it more often. I also have the self-initiative to just get things done that need to get done. Sure, I would rather do fun stuff too, but I try to find a balance.
Unfortunately, my husband is also a minimalist, and the kids seem to be following his example so far. He’s not the type of person who offers to do things for other people on his own unless he knows he will benefit somehow. He rolls his eyes just like a kid and moans and groans about stuff that he needs to do. Meanwhile, I have friends like me who will do things like offer to paint their neighbor’s house for free or who are always offering to lend a helping hand in other ways. And they do these things not expecting anything in return but just out of the kindness of their hearts, knowing how much it will be appreciated.
I do wonder how different my kids would be if they had two parents who thought along these lines and enjoyed doing things for other people instead of having one parent who expects people to always cater to them. I keep trying to impress upon the kids that it is always easier to give to people who are givers themselves. They may continue to be minimalists for a while longer, but I hope that someday they will not be so self-absorbed and will be willing to not only do more than the bare minimum but will be willing to go the extra mile for anyone without thinking about how it will benefit them. I figure my work is extra hard in this department with having a minimalist for a husband, so I started talking to the kids about this a long time ago. I’m crossing my fingers it will pay off someday.
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