Simple Living for Kids: Knowing What “Enough” Feels Like

“Living simply makes loving simple.” — bell hooks, American author and activist

The pervasive drive for more stuff complicates parenting.

When we promise kids a treat or toy for good behavior, we condition them to depend on things to validate their worth. These children grow up to be more materialistic adults, and materialism, as studies show again and again, is detrimental to well-being.

Fortunately, the answer doesn’t mean we have to be glum. Quite the opposite!

As the author Roman Krznaric says, “Simple living is not about abandoning luxury, but discovering it in new places.”

It’s about being in choice with how you spend your finite energy and time, and being together in ways that nourish and connect your family.

Here are some practices to try:

  1. Have more by owning less: Invite your kids to regularly donate or sell toys and clothes they no longer use or need, so they internalize what “enough” feels like.
  1. Rest in routines: Without being rigid, having routines can reduce conflict and free up time. One meal together, a moment to breathe, a nightly expression of gratitude — it’s simple, but it adds up. 
  1. Be mindful of time commitments: Instead of stuffing the family calendar, opt for one or two activities that truly bring joy and fulfill family members’ innate interests.
  1. Prioritize experiences over things: Family trips and outings create lasting memories.
  1. Let kids contribute: Kids benefit and family life is fuller when all members participate in the ways they can. Include your child in making meals and doing chores around the house.
  1. Embrace digital minimalism: Cut back on use of technology in the home– including social media– and opt for real-life, real-time interactions instead.
  1. Let go of perfection: The pursuit of an imaginary perfection is exhausting, and can distract us from the wholeness and beauty that is already here when we accept family life as it is, with all its messiness.

Ask yourself: What’s one small way I can simplify my life today?

Our lesson on simple living in our lesson library makes it easy for parents to get started. It features curated videos about when craving for “stuff” goes too far as well as activities kids can do to learn the difference between wants and needs.