Minimalism – My kids can’t mess up what doesn’t exist

A work colleague of mine reminded me recently of an effective way of solving problems using a minimalist approach.

In her house, she had a serious of hooks on the wall. Over time, these hooks became the final resting place of anything her family was carrying that didn’t have an immediate home. My colleague was feeling frustrated with the situation and with the mess so she took a very straightforward but effective approach. She removed the hooks. With nowhere to just hang random items, things began being put away and the area where the hooks had been became clear and looked and felt a lot better.

I’ve found the same thing in my own house with surfaces. My children are naturally attracted to leaving their toys, books, cups and pretty much everything on any surface or shelf in the house that’s available. The solution we accidentally stumbled across, apart from encouraging them to be less messy in the long term, was the effect of reducing unnecessary surfaces from the house. Our minimalist activities have resulted in a lot less places to leave things. With less surfaces, the mess left on them builds up faster and is more obvious. It’s also faster to clean up. When we had more surfaces, the kids could spread their mess far and wide and it took longer to realise it was getting out of hand. It’s also made the kids naturally tidier as they tend to put their things away more often so are now building better habits.

By taking a leaf from my clever colleague’s book next time you find an area frustrating or messy, consider what would happen if there was nothing in that area to mess up in the first place.

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