Joshua Becker's new book "Clutterfree With Kids" is out now. Credit: Provided
Once upon a time, dad-of-two Joshua Becker was living a typical American life. He worked hard and bought nice things for his family, just like every other dad. One Saturday morning, he decided to tackle cleaning the garage. His 5-year-old son kept asking his dad to stop cleaning and play, but Becker wanted to get the job done. He later lamented to his neighbor about how much it stunk cleaning the garage instead of playing with his son, and his neighbor suggested he try living a more minimalist lifestyle, with less stuff.
"It was a lightbulb moment where my life changed completely," Becker says. "I remember looking at this pile of stuff in my driveway, and none of the things I owned was bringing me any lasting joy." Not only that, he realized they were distracting him from the things that really did bring him joy, like playing with his son. "I had just spent hours organizing a bunch of stuff that I didn't care anything about, and it was all at the expense of the one thing that was the most important to me."
Becker and his wife decided to declutter their lives and start living minimally, and it's only changed their lives for the better. Now he's sharing his tips in his new book, "Clutterfree With Kids." Anyone with children knows you can accumulate a lot of toys and other kid stuff pretty quickly. Becker says the key is keeping what you need to raise your child, not excess. That doesn't mean your kids will be doomed to live a life devoid of toys or fun. It just means getting rid of old toys they no longer play with, buying fewer new ones and not giving in to every tantrum.
"There is great value in kids hearing 'no.' It sets boundaries," Becker says. Giving in to a tantrum in the heat of the moment may seem like the easiest route, but it will only stop that one tantrum, not the pattern. If you're used to buying your kids a lot of stuff on a regular basis, Becker says you can start living clutterfree by going certain timeframes without buying your child any new toys. "For some people, a week will be a big stretch. For some it could be a month, but that's a good trial period for saying 'no' to your children," Becker says.
"It's about more than just decluttering," Becker says. "It's about becoming a better parent." When you own less stuff, you can spend less time cleaning and more time with your kids. And if you get paid hourly, you might be able to work fewer hours because you won't be as buying as much. "It's an exercise in learning gratitude, contentment and self-control in new ways," he adds. "It's taught my kids that buying things isn't the way to happiness, and they don't have to give into a consumer society."