The biggest trend with millennial parents is minimalist parenting. To sum it up, minimalist parenting is doing more with less. It's filtering out the unneeded noise of commercialism and even...dare I say it, bypassing the American Dream of more, more, more. Instead, it's embracing a different sort of dream - the dream of living a more fulfilled and simple life. But, not the kind of simple life Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie lived when Richie stuck her hand up a cow's behind. No, not that at all.
The heart of minimalism is based on finding satisfaction through the experience of living rather than through the materialistic things you can acquire. So, how does this play into parenting. More than one might think. In fact, one might even be practicing some minimalistic ideas and not even realize it.
For instance, minimalists like to leave a small carbon footprint on the planet. So, they're all about reusing, repurposing, and restructuring. The most popular idea that comes to mind is the use of hand-me-downs.
Whether they like to call it minimalism or simply being frugal, most people are all-in on this idea. Not unlike any other subculture, minimalists can get a little lofty in their practices. Sometimes they even go a little overboard on the whole concept.
And that's what we're here for, to give the scoop of what's awesome and what is a little too far out there. Here are 5 good ideas and 10 weird ones when it comes to minimalistic parenting. Check it out!
15 Good Idea: Capsule Wardrobe For Children
If you're like most people then you look at Pinterest when you really should be washing the dishes or doing laundry or some other messy chore. So, you know full well that pins for capsule wardrobes are ALL over the place. And for good reason, too.
A capsule wardrobe is simply a wardrobe that requires fewer articles of clothing. You choose a base color (usual black or navy), grab some neutral colors, and a couple accent colors. All your clothes fit within this color and style scheme, so you're not wasting 20 minutes trying to pick an outfit each day.
The same idea applies to both kids and adults. For kids, it might mean having a drawer full of jeggings that go with any top rather then the matchy-matchy tops and bottoms. More than anything, it just makes for easy outfit planning.
14 Good Idea: Avoid Giving Typical Gifts
A popular "mother earth" sort of blogger introduced this idea several years ago. Since then, many parents have picked it up and are now running with it. The idea is simply that instead of giving materialistic things like toys, you give your child the gift of an experience. This isn't supposed to be the equivalent of that lousy boyfriend from high school naming a star after you. No, he was just plain cheap.
The idea plays out like this: instead of buying your kids a robot dog that will either get broken or forgotten in exactly 27.4 hours, you give them a "day at the zoo" coupon. Then you make good on that coupon. In 20 years, that zoo-going child is going to remember the day at the zoo rather than Cosmo the broken robot dog.
13 Good Idea: Depend On Pre-Loved Clothes
There are those parents who must have only new things for their children. We all know the type. In their defense, maybe those parents are jaded after a childhood of wearing their brother's hand-me-down flannels. They want their kids to have their own personalities rather than being stuffed into another red and black cowboy-looking shirt. Totally get it.
The thing about kids is that even though they're small their clothes usually carry a big price tag. And, let's not even get started on the clothing companies and the fair-trade products and which soul is actually sewing your kids clothes together.
The bottom line is that minimalists totally nailed it in opting for pre-loved clothes. Whether it's a gently used boutique, a community clothing trade-off, or the Salvation Army, there is something for everyone.
12 Good Idea: Adopt A Toy Rotation Routine
As an adult, we tend to get bored with the things that we have. It could be that you always play the same dull games on your iPad. Or that your new pots and pans aren't new anymore. And further still, it could be that you've been wearing the same seasonal wardrobe for the last six months. Whatever your situation is, know that kids feel the same way about their playroom.
Even with mountains of toys at their fingertips, they either get bored or overwhelmed. Minimalistic parenting puts an end to this approach. Parents are now rotating toys in and out of the play area so that with each rotation the kids have "new" toys to play with and the play area is less cluttered. Sound like too much work? Apparently, the key is all in the toy tubs.
11 Good Idea: Forgo The Changing Table
Another Pinterest-worthy idea is the minimalist strategy of repurposing. In this case, it's repurposing another piece of furniture to use as the baby's changing table. What this does is eliminate the need for another big piece of furniture in your nursery. And, saves you some jingle-jangle in the meantime.
Most parents found that they often resorted to changing their babies wherever it was convenient anyway. So the changing table served as nothing more than a storage unit. Other parents swear by their changing tables. While everyone has the right to their own method of diaper-changing, repurposing does sound like an attractive idea. Thanks to Pinterest, it looks attractive, too.
10 Weird: Don’t Buy Anything New Ever
So, we've got the good minimalist parenting ideas out for debate. This point is the beginning of the weird ones. It must be said that nobody ever accused minimalism as an easy practice. It does take some forethought, organization, a willingness to compromise. But, most parents draw the line when minimalism becomes incredibly inconvenient or damages their sentimentality.
There was a certain minimalistic parent who notoriously boasted about not buying anything new for her baby and shamed moms who had. While hand-me-downs are great, it's nearly impossible to have what you need for a new baby without buying at least a few new things. Furthermore, no one should be shaming moms who do buy new things. For the reasons listed, this idea made it to the "weird" list.
9 Weird: Wear Your Baby 24/7
There really are things that you don't need for your baby. But, only you will know what those things are because only you live you life. It's you who will be integrating a new little baby into your daily activities. Not the minimalistic blogger writing witty posts whom you love to read so much. Nope, you're the real boss, mama. Not the cool blogger.
So, when the blogger tells you that you don't actually need a baby stroller, you might want to question that idea. For instance, can you truly always wear baby everywhere you go? Also, how is baby really going to feel if you go for a jog together with her in the Moby Ring Sling or the Ergobaby 360? She will probably be cursing your name in her own baby way. The bottom line is that no one can tell you what you really truly need for your own baby because they don't live your life.
8 Weird: Don’t Spend Your Money On A Crib
Here's another one making the "weird" list because it was taken too far by a minimalist parent. More than anything, people tend to try to cram other parenting styles and lifestyles into the one that works for them. But, not every parent fits into one mold. Here's what I mean.
The idea was presented that new parents don't actually need to buy cribs. That they simply need to practice safe co-sleeping from the very beginning and save themselves the hassle of getting the crib.
Try not to wrinkle your nose or shake your head right now (I know you are), but this just isn't plausible. For starters, co-sleeping just doesn't work for everyone. Secondly, even to practice safe co-sleeping, you need some type of by-the-bed crib.
7 Weird: Give Up On The Baby “Containers”
Play pens, Bumbo seats, swings, bouncers, and a number of other devices that help you to take care of your baby while you can't hold him or her - these are also known in some circles as "baby containers." Especially the minimalistic circle. So, the question remains as to what exactly is so bad about all of these things?
Aside from random recalls, there really isn't a safety concern with any of them. One argument is that they do take up space. Also, they take the place of parenting arms. Here's the thing, moms only have two arms. And those two arms have A LOT of responsibility aside from holding a baby. So, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with employing a little help from the "baby containers."
6 Weird: Try To Mimic Gerber
Let's just face it. Gerber is awesome. The little baby on the front - adorable. The food they produce - yummy. But, sometimes moms want to try their hand at awesomeness aka making their own baby food. And, I'm talking about growing a garden, harvesting the produce, and pureeing it to perfection.
While this is an awesome idea, there's a good possibility that you'll spend hours and hours of gardening, harvesting, cutting, and pureeing only to produce an ice cube tray full of baby food. And, baby might not even like your homemade baby food. Especially the green beans. Let's keep it real, there are few moms who get the green bean baby food right. The bottom line is that you're just as good of a mom if you depend on Gerber rather than going the DIY route.
5 Weird: Diapers Aren’t For “Real” Parents
Mayim Bialik's son was in underwear at 17 months. Alicia Silverstone wrote a book about it. And, several other celebrities have dabbled in this idea of elimination communication. It's basically the practice of potty training from day one. You listen and watch for nonverbal cues from your baby then take them to the potty (or a container) so they can eliminate their waste.
Being able to tout that your 1.5 year-old is potty trained is fantastic. The problem with elimination communication is that this type of training just doesn't work for everyone. In fact, it's simply not even possible for every parent to do. So, to tell another parent that elimination communication training is the primal and best way to parent is absurd. Diapers are for "real" parents just as much as a potty is. Bottom line.
4 Weird: Only Cloth Diapers Are For “Real” Parents
Aside from elimination communication, there are some minimalist parents who have abandoned all claim to disposable diapers. Disposable diapers started to get a bad rap when everyone realized how horrible they were for the environment. After all, it takes about 250-500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose. To top it all off, an estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used in the U.S. each year. It's clear that disposable diapers pose a huge problem to our environment and the environment of our children (and children's children).
But, that's not to say parents who use disposables are not "real" parents. Sure, you use disposables and you leave a bigger carbon footprint on the world. But, like many other minimalistic approaches, cloth diapers aren't always doable for each parent or family.
3 Weird: All You Need Are The Girls
Breastfeeding mothers have taken a significant and bold stand in the past several years. In fact, the picture shown above is of an especially fearless young mother and the look on her face should be enough to scare away haters.
But fearless breastfeeding isn't exactly the point of this. The point is that some minimalistic parents take breastfeeding to the extreme in saying that all you need are the milkies up front. No bottles, no pumping, no formula. Only the girls.
Again, (big sigh) this just isn't doable for every mom. For instance, how exactly is a single working mom suppose to breastfeed on demand when she has to be away from her baby for work simply to put a roof over their heads? Exactly. So, that's how it wound up on the "weird" list.
2 Weird: Never Buying Anything But Organic
As mentioned before, organic and fair-trade clothes are awesome. Most people can stand behind the idea of clothing made from wholesome products rather than some synthetic stuff. Also, most people like the idea of someone making their kids' clothes who is an adult and who is also working in a safe environment getting paid fair wages to do so.
But, contrary to the way it probably should be, the consumer end up supporting those ideals directly from their pocketbook. When it comes down to it, spending $24.99 on an organic onesie versus paying 57 cents at a thrift store or using a hand-me-down from cousin Emilee, the former can be too much to ask. Plus, what exactly are parents supposed to do with all the big chain, non-organics store gift cards?
1 Weird: Give Your Kid Jerky
This last idea coming from the stream of minimalistic parenting is baby-led weaning. Granted, many parents find this idea to be highly successful in addition to incredibly entertaining. Basically, baby-led weaning is the notion that baby leads the way in terms of telling mom and dad when it's time to wean and eat big kid food.
On a list of "things you don't need" for baby, one minimalistic parent declared that parents don't need baby food. This parent simply gave her baby a piece of jerky to gnaw on (yes, jerky). It can't be said enough that this method simply doesn't work for everyone. To push this style of parenting on anyone or to say a parent isn't doing a good job because they're not following baby-led weaning can really be judgmental. For that reason, it made the "weird" list .
Sources: www.parenting.com, www.scarymommy.com, www.nosidebar.com, www.becomingminimalistic.com