7 Ways to Encourage Simplicity at Home

When you get excited to simplify and declutter and your family isn’t all in, motivation can wane and momentum may slow. How can you get everyone on board, on the same page, wanting exactly what you want?

7 Ways to Encourage Simplicity at Home

1. Host a simplicity summit.
Organize a family meeting with kids or without to talk about how you want simplicity to work in your family. Bring big questions and open ears and hearts to the table as you discuss things like what’s complicated in your life and how simplifying it would improve relationships and family dynamics. If kids join the summit, keep the topics lighter and save the heavy hitters for partners only. You can read about my first simplicity summit here.

2. Start with your stuff.
It’s much easier to direct your focus to the clutter your kids or spouse create, but start with your own stuff. Lead by example and simplify your personal belongings before moving into shared items or other people’s clutter. That might be just enough inspiration for family members to take a look at their stuff.

3. Give freely.
Unless you are selling your stuff to pay off debt, give it away. The opportunity to give provides incredible motivation to let go. Giving feels good and is a great practice for adults and children.

4. Talk about the why.
Why do you want to simplify your life? What are the benefits? If you want to be debt free so you can make a career change, or live in a smaller home so you can spend more time traveling, share that with your family. Don’t leave out the little whys too like the fact that without clutter, cleaning is easier, and there is less to keep track of. If you are paying less attention to stuff, you can give more attention to everyone around you. 

5. Read Clutterfree with Kids.
My friend Joshua Becker just released a new book to help families simplify together. My favorite chapter is Parenting over Possessions where Joshua writes, “We can trade our finite resources for the desires and values held deep within our hearts—the purest passions unspoiled by the culture around us. We were created to live for pursuits far greater than comfort, luxury, and competition. We were created to trade our lives up, not down. And this decision holds benefit for us and our kids.” Read Clutterfree with Kids.

6. Announce a challenge.
Make simplicity fun in your home by announcing a collective challenge. Instead of competing with each other, encourage collaboration by offering a fun prize like pancake picnic for dinner or a family outing if you donate 50 things together. Join this challenge or pull something from Mini-missions for Simplicity to make the process less of a chore and more of a celebration.

7. Put relationships first.
Even when your family isn’t as ready as you, or if they aren’t ready at all, they come first. Gentle encouragement, leading by example, and demonstrating the benefits of simplicity will help, but recognize when your actions are getting in the way of what means the most. Use simplicity to bring your family closer.

Small actions, compassion and love are so much more important than getting everyone on the same page. Just leave the door open and be waiting with a hug when they are ready to come aboard.

Slowing down and simplifying life with your family will allow for better connection. Life is short, but the time you have when your children are home is even shorter. Remove everything that gets in the way of enjoying every moment.


  1. says

    Hey Courtney,

    i love minimalism, but i have a tough challenge at the moment. A few months ago i moved with my family from Germany to Canada. Here we live with my mother in law in her house till we are financially stable. She is the opposite of a minimalist and i really have to focus on staying in the now in-between all that clutter. I feel that i am not really having the permission to say something to her, because she is so nice to let us stay here.

    You know the feeling when your fingers getting itchy (thats a german saying), because you just want to start right away to make everything more spacious.

    Love your website and your authentic being!



    • Courtney Carver says

      Paula, It sounds like you will have to create space in other areas of your life and go along with things until it’s time to move. Thanks for your kind words.

  2. Tonya Magonigal says

    Courtney, I am new to your blog. I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed it. I live in Herriman, maybe one day we can meet for lunch.
    One thing that I did with my kids when they were younger was to put half of their toys in a box in the attic and then switch them out every month or two. What didn’t get played with was donated. Another thing was that I only let them have ten sets of clothes and three pairs of shoes. This kept down on a lot of clutter. They also had a special box for their treasures and when it was full they had to choose the item that would leave when they wanted to add something new.

  3. says

    Hi Courtney

    I live alone at the moment but my partner has a lot of stuff while I regularly throw things out of my cute shoebox. We don’t quite see eye to eye on this. Apparently I need two kettles in a teensy studio flat :) I like your “encourage collaboration” approach. I’ve recently used this at work. Thinking of myself as on the “same side” solving an issue worked beautifully. Who would have guessed?!
    So maybe the polar opposites (“two of everything” versus “one and only if I use it”) can find a middle ground. You’re right, relationships do belong first. I might need to relax a bit about all the stuff. Thanks, I always enjoy reading.

  4. Cindy says

    I have found “Give Freely” to be the most important aspect for me in actually getting things out of the house. In the beginning, I felt like I should try to make what I could by selling things…which only meant they piled up elsewhere waiting for me to have the time to get things listed on various websites. I began to change my view by focusing on the fact that the things I was getting rid of could bless others who really needed them. Seeing things leaving the house felt freeing and has helped move things a little faster given then I can devote my limited time to focus completely on getting things out of the house rather than divide it between the de-cluttering and selling processes.

    • cheryl says

      cindy, this comment was so helpful to me. we’ve pared down our possessions by about 50%, but we still have a big pile of stuff that’s marked “sell on craigslist” because our budget is tight these days. that pile has been sitting there for more than 6 months waiting until we free up time to post them, and i think we might be hurting our ability to move forward and feel even freer. thanks again for your perspective.

  5. says

    Hi, Courtney.

    Thank you for the suggestions. They are sure worth a try.

    Personally, I regularly purge my stuff. Even digital. There’s something about having your belongings in their proper places and doing their intended purpose in your life.

    Then I discovered my 5 year-old child’s unattachment to stuff.
    It all started when I asked her for the toys she no longer needs/wants and donate them to the children of Haiyan typhoon victims. We’ve rearranged her books and toys since then and now there are a few boxes of toys ready for the taking. I plan to ship it to the Philippines in time for our vacation there so she can personally give them to the orphanage near our place. Two things I would love for her to learn: living a quality life with less and generosity.

    A little bit challenging is the husband. If I can have my way, I want HIM to purge his stuff. Because usually what happens is – he brings home whatever he thinks “we” need (even if I’m pretty sure I can live without it), and I deal with it once it’s here. He’s still at the stage where he’s not so discriminating of the want vs need thing. Though I’m quite certain he’ll come around. 😉

  6. Sarah says

    Moving from a 5 bedroom home to a considerately smaller 2 bedroom sea side one meant we had to look carefully at what we really wanted and needed in our life. Cupboard space and valuable surface space is radically reduced and everything has to earn its right to be in our life. This has given me a new outlook on things. Is it worthy of my time to clean it? Does it deserve the space in my closet? I was amazed to find the answer was no to 75% of the things we owned.

    It was liberating to give them away and we’ve begun the next stage of our lives in a fresh airy space. It’s made everything easier.

  7. Michelle Stewart says

    I love the encouragement from this blog. We are moving to a different house soon and the “just in case” stuff was overwhelming. We had a garage sale and donated the rest to charity. We have cleaned the place from top to bottom and it looks beyond minimalism since we don’t know when the house will have it’s next person walking through as a potential buyer. Once the house sells, it’s time to go through drawers and get rid of more!