How to: Minimalist Parenting at Every Age

I am 32 and having given birth for the first time at 23 and raising my husband’s 5 year old starting at the age of 20 I have raised a child at every single age from pregnancy to 18!! (Well, technically, I am 3 months away from the 18 mark.) Now, I wouldn’t have called myself a minimalist when I first became a mom but somehow having 3 kids in my life (plus a 24 year old step daughter) forced me to simplify…or die. So how did I do it? I don’t know… but I’m going to do my best to give you simple tips that can help you practice minimalist parenting at every age.

*This post contains affiliate links. Although I may make a commission, all recommendations are my own.

Practical tips for minimalist parenting at any age. Learn to be a minimalist with kids the easy way.

Pregnancy

Declutter your home now

You have probably heard of “nesting.” When a mama goes a little crazy and starts cleaning and prepping the entire house for baby to be born. There is definitely a reason for this!

Now is the best time to start creating a simplified home and getting organized. One great way to do this is by creating a paperless home!

When baby is born, you will have hospital documents, doctor visits, birth certificates and so many more important papers that you’ll be given. The Paperless Home eBook teaches you exactly what you need to do to start keeping track of these papers digitally! That means if you find yourself at a doctor visit, you already have every single important document at your finger tips on your phone! Learn more about going paperless.

Helpful downsize tips

Practice these minimalist parenting tips during pregnancy, the toddler years and beyond.

Take this time for yourself

Trust me, I know what it is like being a mom-in-training. It is so exciting waiting for that little one…and it’s also a little nerve wracking. Remind yourself that this is your absolute last chance for alone time (if this is your first child.)

Take time to enjoy your spouse, nap while you can, go for walks, and love your body. The more at peace you are, the more at peace your baby will be. And that doesn’t stop after they’re born either!

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Take a “baby moon” vacation
  • Enjoy long, luxurious bubble baths
  • Get a pedicure…especially when you can’t see your feet anymore
  • Move your body, keep it healthy and feel good in your own skin

Get advice before registering

Confession: I had a total mental breakdown in the baby isles of Target when I was expecting my first baby. It was all about bottle nipples. At the ripe age of 23 I had no idea that there were different sizes you needed for different months! WHAT?!

So as fun (and/or overwhelming) as it can be to register for baby shower gifts, do yourself a favor and seek professional help first. Haha. I totally mean get some input from experienced moms. What did they need? Which gifts didn’t get used? Were there gifts they wish they had gotten?

Minimalist parenting tips

  • You don’t need the “extras” like a bottle warmer, wipe warmer or bottle drying rack.
  • Think about the toddler years and consider registering for some of that stuff as well.
  • Exchange extra newborn outfits you receive for bigger sizes. Chances are, they will only get worn once … or not at all.

Start a savings account

So many parents kick themselves for not having started a savings account for their children at a younger age. Now is the time. Make a habit of depositing birthday money, Christmas money or any other financial gifts into a savings account. Your child doesn’t need it now, but they will definitely appreciate it in the future.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • High yield savings account – Open a high-yield savings account with CIT Bank and get a 1.55% return on your investment.
  • Savings Builder – Get up t a 2.25% interest rate with CIT Bank by depositing only $100 per month into a Savings Builder account!

Stockpile diapers

Every single time you make a grocery trip, throw a random diaper size onto the conveyor. This is so helpful once baby actually comes! Doing this can help you avoid running out of diapers, making unnecessary trips to the store and can help ease the financial burdens of having a newborn.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Keep receipts. If your child has a bad reaction to a certain brand, you’ll want to make sure you can exchange.
  • Most newborns don’t fit newborn diapers. Keep that in mind.
  • Don’t forget wipes!

Birth – Age 2

Keep toys to a limit

Those big giant toys that boast they are designed to help babies grow and learn and be geniuses are usually unnecessary. You know how they say kids will choose the box a toy came in over the toy? That’s because they really can learn so much from that box…and they know it.

Enjoy this video clip from the Story of This Life YouTube that perfectly shows just how true this is.


Minimalist parenting tips

  • Set a limit to one or two, especially in the main living area.
  • Kindly tell people to avoid large toy gifts.
  • Toys can be old, unused items (like a remote control.)

Automate what you can

It is not always easy leaving the house with a baby believe it or not. A great way to save yourself some time and stress is to automate what you can. There are now companies like Instacart and Shipt that allow you to hand pick your groceries and have someone deliver them for you!

Another great option for those of you needing to make pharmacy runs is PhilPharmacy. They will deal with insurance companies to get prescriptions delivered right to your door for the same cost as the pharmacy!

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Many grocery stores are now getting on board with online orders and at the door pick ups.
  • Chewy is a great source for pet food and pet products.
  • Remember caring for yourself is just as important as caring for your child(ren.)

Make simple meals

When my first baby was born I took pride in the fact that I made every single one of her baby meals from scratch. I even tried to copy store bought baby food by making and finely dicing up noodles for “spaghetti.”

I would spend a few hours a week prepping food, storing it in the freezer and coming up with fun, creative combos like banana/mango.

You know what would have been even easier? Cutting up half a banana, mashing it with a fork and feeding her when she needed it.

Feeding kids simple, healthy meals actually helps their taste buds adapt to fruits and vegetables and it’s really all they need!

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Mashed sweet potato (does need to be pre-cooked)
  • Banana
  • Avocado
  • Peas

Get sleep

They say nap when baby naps and you know what? There is no shame in this. If you were up all night with a little one and you need a nap to get you through your day don’t feel guilty about taking one.

It is so important for you to stay on top of your game and sleep is one thing you need that will help you do that.

Just like it’s important for you to sleep, it’s important for your baby to sleep as well. Now, I can’t make pediatrician recommended recommendations, but I’ll tell you what I did to help my kids sleep:

  • Let them sleep on me (we always napped together)
  • Propped my son in a papa san sleeper (because he always gagged on spit up)
  • Let them cry for 20 minutes or so before checking on them. They would usually fall right back asleep.

Using these tricks helped me sleep better at night so I could be present and prepared when it was time to wake up.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Switch off weekend days with your partner (I have friends who do this so each one has a day to sleep in.)
  • Let your little one play in their room while you nap next to them.
  • Never underestimate the power of a 15 minute power nap.

Take care of yourself

One thing I hate to see mamas do is lose track of themselves after having a baby. Make sure you are still taking time for yourself, your body and your goals. This might mean booking a pedicure once a month, or making it to the gym 3 times per week.

Whether or not you have a gym membership, there is a great, affordable fitness app you can use that can help you make the most out of your workouts! The Aaptiv app has meditation guides, marathon training, HIIT workouts, yoga, abs and weight free workouts. Get 30 days free by clicking here.

There is also a great planner that can help you keep track of your budget, groceries, appointments and help you track your own fitness and/or weight loss goals. See the Deluxe Home Binder.

Other fitness tips

Ages 2- 5

Get out of the house

This tip is something I want you to remember from now until high school graduation. It is so important if you have a spouse (or even if you don’t) to make sure you make time to get out of the house.

It can be a little more expensive during this time, especially if you have to pay a babysitter, but it’s still highly important that you make the time. A great way to start saving is by using the Digit app. Digit syncs with your bank account and saves money for you automatically. My husband and I always plan a date night based on how much money we have in out Digit “Rainy Day” account. Start a Rainy Day savings.

Other helpful reads:

Color

Just color. Take out some crayons, markers or water colors and some blank pieces of paper. Let your child be creative. You don’t need to come up with huge, elaborate art projects. The best way for your children to find their own creativity and improve their motor skills is to just let them be.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Chalk on the side walk
  • Crayon and paper
  • Bathtub soap paints or shaving cream

Let them play alone

When it was just my daughter and I at home (our older daughter was at school and I was pregnant with our son) I used to shut her in her room for 20 minutes a day or so. Doing this helped me get things done without feeling the need to supervise her.

Allowing children to be alone helps them be comfortable with being alone. This can give them the tools to get creative instead of getting bored. There are so many benefits to not always stimulating your child that can show through later in life.

Checkout this great article in Psychology Today: Let Kids Be Bored (Occasionally)

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Have designated quiet time each day for you and them
  • Encourage them to play alone when friends can’t play
  • When they say they are bored, don’t help them

Skip screen time

I know screen time can be a total life saver, but I want to encourage you to keep it to a minimum. Trust me, I know how tough this is. As my kids grew up I got dirty looks in restaurants, funerals, weddings…basically any place where there are other people involved.

As my kids climbed all over me, got bored and laughed when they shouldn’t I would look around the room and see so many quiet, peaceful children happily lost in their iPads. Occasionally I would daydream that maybe this was the better choice. It wasn’t.

I am so thankful every day that I toughed through those times where my kids were…being kids. Now that they are 7 and 8 they are well behaved, respectful and they communicate with me and those around them instead of needing to bury their nose in a screen. Do they still ask for a phone to play on when they are bored in public? You betcha. Do I give in? Rarely.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • In place of screens bring coloring books and crayons
  • During car trips avoid bringing TVs
  • Set screen time limits in the home

Answer their questions

They say that 4 year olds ask around 300 questions a day. Now, no one expects you to have all of these answers or the sanity to answer them all anyway, but I would encourage you to try and answer as many as you can.

Children are inquisitive and are curious about the world around them. Why not indulge them a little and help them love that quest for knowledge?

Minimalist parenting tips

  • There is nothing wrong with simple answers
  • Try to explain beyond just “yes” and “no”
  • Stop answering questions when they stop asking. Example: Mom, where do babies come from? –-Better they learn from you than someone else.

5-10

Set location restrictions for toys

In order to maintain a clean, tidy home, it helps to have your children on board. They are at the age now that they can understand basic rules and begin to follow them.

Having a rule like, “No toys in the living room.” is a simple way of setting boundaries and taking back the space that is rightfully yours. Maybe their toys have to stay in their rooms, or perhaps in a toy room.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Declutter toys before birthdays and Christmas
  • Encourage 5 minute nightly tidy ups
  • Teach children to clean up toys when they have been playing at friend’s houses as well.

Start encouraging chores

Between the ages of 5 and 10 is a great time to start encouraging chores. Whether you decide to pay for chores or not is up to you. Personally we used to not pay for chores…we considered it to be just something expected in order to help keep the house functioning at its best.

After taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University we loved the idea of giving children a “commission” for their part in maintaining the house. This has helped our children manage money and appreciate putting in the work. Checkout Financial Peace Junior.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Start small
  • Keep chores fitting to their age level
  • Understand that you may be helping and teaching and that it can take a while for them to learn

Choose neutral bedroom decor

Enter the age of “phases.” Right now your kids are going to be diving head first into fads, the latest movies and TV shows and all things pop culture. In order to avoid having to redecorate from Paw Patrol to Frozen every two years, do yourself a favor and opt for neutral bedding and room decor.

This is also a great way of giving children a blank pallet in which to use their creativity. With a room that isn’t perfectly designed, they are able to put their own touches on it and create a space that is perfect for who they are.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Keep dresser drawers simple. Ex. pants, pjs, socks.
  • Using sticker decals is a great way to change decor without redecorating
  • Let your children have a say in the colors in their room

Have simple birthday parties

Yes, this is coming from the woman who had a three tiered birthday cake for her one year old.

I used to go all out for birthdays that I literally exhausted myself before the party even started! Don’t do this.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a simple back yard birthday party and a homemade cake. Trust me, I have experimented and my children’s happiness has remained the same if not improved.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Make the cake with your child
  • Encourage party guests to bring a simple $5 donation toward a larger gift. Read about “Fiver” birthday parties.
  • Regular paper plates work just as good as decorated ones

Let them read to you

While your children learn to read, encourage them to switch off bedtime stories with you. Maybe that means reading every other page, having them read a few words here and there or giving them full reign over bedtime stories.

Depending on their age level and their reading abilities, this will look different from child to child but it can be such a great confidence booster and a good way for them to improve their reading abilities.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Stick to books at their age range
  • Let them choose the books they read
  • After a while, challenge them to choose a book that is a little more difficult

10-15

Be open and honest

There will be so many changes in your child from the ages of 10 to 15 and again, if they come to you with questions (no matter how difficult) it’s important to be open and honest.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • If you’re not honest with them, they will get advice from someone else
  • Bodies and growing are nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about
  • Call our body parts by the appropriate names

Let them help with making dinner

Now is the time to take some of the work of dinner off your shoulders! Kids at this age want to feel useful, so help them out! Ask them to help you make dinner or encourage them to make dinner once a week on their own!

If you’re not great at cooking or meal planning yourself, checkout the $5 Meal Plan. These are meal plans and shopping lists created by a busy mother of 4 and designed to help other moms stick to a budget and still eat healthy home cooked meals without the stress.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Let them choose a meal to learn to make
  • Encourage them to surprise you with dinner
  • Be patient. Mistakes will be made
Minimalist parenting tips for every age. Encourage them to make dinner with you.

Encourage them to fight their own battles

I may have marched over to a neighbor’s house once or twice when their kids were picking on my daughter. It is not easy watching your kids fight battles and it can be tough finding the line between helping and doing it all for them, but I encourage you to at least be mindful of the line.

They will never quite grow up if they know you’re doing all the tough stuff for them. We are here to guide them through life after all, not live it for them.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Always be a good listener.
  • Ask them what their plans are to handle the situation
  • Don’t bail them out of mistakes they’ve made

Embrace their changing personality

I think every single one of us has a child and then dreams of what their life will be like. Chances are, they are not going to be anything like you imagined. Now, more than ever, they are going to let you know that. Try to be ok with it.

Our oldest daughter spent so much of her life trying to please us that we didn’t even know she was doing it! We have had to practice letting go of who we thought she was (who she was pretending to be) and are working to encourage her to be her own version of herself while reminding her we’re ok with it.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Just listen.
  • Pray.
  • When you feel like judging, ask yourself why.

Just soak it up

More responsibility is just around the corner along with full-blown adulthood and flying the nest. Even though the preteen and teen years are not easy, do you best to make this time count.

You might be parenting harder than you’ve ever had to parent. Maybe not. Either way, be the best parent you can, because your time with them under your roof is running out.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Go on “dates” with your child, just the two of you. Again, using Digit is a great way to save for this!
  • Start saving for cars, graduation parties and college. Learn about Sinking Funds.
  • Be a house that is welcoming of their friends

16-18

Take lots of deep breaths

Maybe because they are driving you crazy, maybe because they are driving and maybe because this time is almost over. Whatever the reason, you are getting to the point where all you can do is just breathe through whatever emotions are coming your way.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Counting to ten still works
  • Take pictures like you used to
  • It’s ok to set boundaries on driving privileges

Help them start a budget

Now is the time when your child will be bringing in an income of their own. Teach them to manage this money wisely (so they don’t end up like me.) I have a great Budget Binder for beginner budgets that you can take advantage of.

It’s also important during this time that you be open and honest about your financial failures and successes so they can learn from you.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • This doesn’t have to be a painful sit down discussion
  • If they struggle to save on their own, you can still intervene.
  • Encourage them to pay some or all of their bills (phone, car etc)

Listen to their life goals

Just like you are going to watch your child go through changes and phases in life, you are going to have to be present while they plan for life away from you. Give helpful encouraging ideas in support of their dreams even if they are different from the dreams you have or them.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Give practical advice on steps they can take to make their dreams come true
  • Research their dreams with them so you can help them get a plan together
  • If they plan for college, help them find scholarships to apply for

Encourage them to work

School and sports get tough, but did you know teenagers who worked while going to school actually had more success later in life? Here is an article shared by the Washington Post.

Working can help them to manage schedules, adapt to the workplace, learn to work with people other than classmates and give them experience as they head into adulthood.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Be considerate of their schedule and stress level
  • Check out work programs offered through school
  • Even one day a week is a start

Spend time one on one

You may find as your child matures more and more that you are able to take on a different type of relationship with them than you were able to when they were younger. When kids are younger, we’re usually “in charge” or “bossing them around.” As they grow up, you are able to let some of that stuff go and just enjoy the person you have raised.

Minimalist parenting tips

  • Plan a trip
  • Have a night where you can chat for just 20 minutes together
  • Keep breathing

Just enjoy

Remember, no matter the age or stage, just do you best to enjoy all of it. This time will pass and the best way to keep your sanity is to remember to enjoy the minutes before they’re gone for good.

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About The Author

Renee

Renee is the blogger behind The Fun Sized Life. After downsizing with her family, she also took the time to get serious about he finances. Now she is sharing the wealth with all of her readers.