FAQ: How Do I Get My Family On Board with Minimalism?

Two years after beginning our minimalist lifestyle I finally showed my husband a picture of what I wanted our home to look like.

I came across a post in a Facebook group of a four year old’s bedroom, the mother posting proudly how she had minimized his room. There was a simple bed with one stuffed animal, one dresser with a small lamp and obligatory succulent (because:minimalism), and one small basket with toys.

It was simple and enough. It was everything I wanted for my home too.

And when I looked around my home I still saw things that if it were up to me would be gone already. But it’s not. I have a husband who tends to have his own opinions. I also have children who collect $.25 toy machine treasures like they’re nuggets of pure gold.

On a whim I texted the image to my husband with a simple caption, “This is my vision for our home,” and waited for his objections. I prepared myself for “there’s nothing on the walls,” and “do we really need another succulent?” or possibly, “it’s cute, but not my style. I like what we have now”.

The Most Frequently Asked Question I Get

By far, the most common question I receive from readers is what to do about a spouse or kids who aren’t on board with minimalism. Their excitement to jump into freedom and clarity has no bounds, until they realize they live with other people who have stuff and like it too!

This was not my experience entirely. In fact, for years my husband was telling me we had too much junk and we spend too much money and why are there so many coffee mugs when we each use the same one every day?!

He didn’t know what he was searching for was minimalism until I enthusiastically informed him of this “new thing I’m trying” two years ago. He mercifully let me have my new thing and spared me the “I told you so”.

I jumped in head first and heart full of ideas and dreams about what our minimalist life would look like and he followed willingly, encouraging the positive changes in our home, and more specifically, my soul. He did this even though I never stopped to ask a couple important questions.

As I waited for his response I imagined how this vision would realize itself in our home. In my head, I’d stripped the walls bare, removed furniture, thrown out picture frames and added at least half a dozen more succulents (because: minimalism).

And then I received this: “Absolutely love this and I don’t see why we wouldn’t be able to accomplish this.”

Adjusting Family Assumptions

Huh. Turns out I may have made a few undue assumptions about my husband’s vision of minimalism. I wasn’t worried that he wasn’t on board with minimalism, I didn’t know to what level he would allow us to go.

I forgot that it was indeed his idea first, years and year ago. I forgot in my search for a simple life to ask him what his vision of minimalism looked like. I realized I’d never honestly shared my vision.

I thought again of the question I get so often, “How to do I get my family on board with minimalism?” and I realized that maybe we minimalism enthusiasts, with the best intentions, miss some key points in pursuing this lifestyle with family members.

If you are pursuing minimalism with reluctant family members, I hope these four tips will help you better navigate through your journey.

4 Helpful Tips for When Your Family Isn’t On Board

Be Clear

One of the most common benefits I see in minimalism is clarity. However, although we may experience a personal clarity in our own head, heart, and life we don’t always communicate with the same clarity. Hence the reason it took almost two years to send a clear, literal picture to my husband of my vision for our minimalism.

Be honest, speak clearly about your why, goals, hopes, and vision for minimalism. This brings your spouse or kids into your minimalism as partners, not as prisoners. Invite them into the clarity, into the peace, into the freedom with a clear purpose and give them the opportunity to join.

Be Patient

They may not join you. They might not be ready when you’re ready. That’s okay.

Be patient. And keep on your journey. Minimize your stuff, declutter your stuff, prioritize your stuff. You do you, be the example, and be patient and longsuffering if they don’t catch on immediately.

Be Respectful

Ideally our family and loved ones would support, join, and experience the transformation with us — but sometimes they don’t. And if we’ve communicated as honestly as we can, we’ve settled into a patient space with them — all we can do is respect their space, their hesitation, and especially their stuff.

We can’t force our loved ones to get rid of their stuff and we can’t get rid of it for them. That’s disrespectful of the soul space they are currently residing in. This in no way will hinder your own growth into simplicity, but the honor and respect we offer with no strings attached will further the freedom you receive through minimalism.

Be Consistent

As with exercise, dieting, parenting, and learning consistency is key. Your transformation into simplicity will undoubtedly be visible to your loved one. They will see you working through sentimentality, comparison issues, scaling back on spending, saving more money, pursuing experiences you’ve always dreamed of, etc… and it will be a constant reminder to them that while you are growing and changing before them, they are staying the same.

Your consistency and persistence with your own stuff — as well with your communication, patience, and respect for them — will make a way for them to join you.

The image I shared with my husband was the clearest I had communicated with him about my vision in two years of simplifying our life. I assumed he had a different vision and that left me with an “almost, but not quite” feeling about our minimalist experience.

Your family may not be on a similar page. They might be down-right opposed to donating those 723 Nat-Geo magazines collecting dust in the basement. Or, maybe with a little clarity, patience, respect, and a consistent example of simplicity they aren’t that far behind.

Need help getting started with your minimalism?

Check out the Resources page and choose the FREE resources that’s best for this stage of your journey. Whether you’re looking for a way to ease into minimalism or need more time and space for soul-care, these guides are designed with you in mind. Go check out the free resources here.


Originally published at simpleandsoul.com on August 29, 2017.