What to do if you’re the only Minimalist in the house

What to do if you're the only minimalist in the home

It doesn’t matter if you’re a total convert to the benefits of Minimalism or whether you’re new to the whole thing and just finding your feet. Living in the same home as others who aren’t quite as keen on the lifestyle or haven’t yet discovered what a difference it can make, can be a frustrating thing. Check out this post on what to do if you’re the only Minimalist in the house.


Although my husband can see the benefits of Minimalism he is still an outright hoarder – the polar opposite of me. He can see that living more simply, closely curating my time and my possessions has had many benefits, for example, in how much more relaxed I am, that I have more time to play with the kids or take up new interests and that the house is always clean and tidy no matter how many kids have trampled through it. The list could go on.

In some areas of his life my husband has seen my Minimalism make a difference to him, such as having more time to spend together as a family, always having clean clothes and food in the fridge, more money in the bank…

But, he would still find it difficult to identify how going totally minimalist would help him any further.

What if he needed that bit of wood or the third set of drill bits for a DIY project, my husband would say. His usual argument is that you never know whether we might need it in the future. Why throw something out because we’d just have to buy it again if we needed it. Tools are different, he would say to me, you can never have enough.

men's clothes hanging in wardrobe

As for the wardrobe, I must confess that I have weeded out his clothes (and his bedside table) several times over! I remove things that he hasn’t worn or used for a decade, thinking that he’d never possibly know what’s gone from the bottomless pit of his half of the wardrobe. Why is it then that he always comes to me a short while after, saying he can’t find the shorts or t-shirt he was looking for?!

Although I plead ignorance and ask him if he’s had a good look for them, I’m secretly muttering under my breath about how he could possibly know what I’ve done and does he have some sort of sixth sense or a hidden camera set up.

Then there’s the time when I decide to clear out some house stuff. I put it all in separate piles for donate, recycle and rubbish and put the items in the three black bin bags accordingly.

If my husband spots these bags before I’ve re-homed them then he’ll go through the bags and pull out stuff that I’m sure he never knew we had in the first place saying ‘I was looking for this’, ‘You never know’, ‘Just in case’, ‘I might need this’.

When I’ve spent the last 30 minutes sorting carefully through things and bagging the stuff up, it is so frustrating when he does this. So, in the past, it’s either been a race against time to get it all done and out of the door before he comes home or I don’t do it at all.


My children are much better than my husband. I’m very lucky in that one of them at least is a very tidy and organised child. My other daughter is messy and creative but she will tidy things up eventually in her own time.

However, when it comes to Lego, stuffed toys and art things, they are mad collectors so this is another area where, if I pick the wrong moment or do it in the wrong way, I can bang my head against a brick wall rather than make spectacular minimalist progress.

Change my family’s life for the better by going minimalist? When my husband and children are in full-on hoarding mode, it’s more like a recipe for divorce and disaster!

But don’t get put off, it is possible to make it work and do your Minimalist thing without alienating your entire family. You need a strategy so let’s talk tactics!

What to do if you're the only Minimalist in the house
#1 Map out areas

Work out which areas of the home are more under your control and agree which areas are in his. Where do you each spend the most time, for example, are you mostly in the living room and he’s in the garage? Or maybe he’s in the kitchen and you’re in the garage! Declutter and minimalise the areas that are yours but leave his stuff alone until he’s ready to either do it himself or ask you to help.

#2 Make it fun

Encourage the kids to help you choose a time when you’re all in a good mood and make it a fun experience by turning it into a game. For example, who’s the quickest at bagging up 5 toys they no longer play with to give to charity? Depending on their age and ability, maybe you could explain to your children that there are many other children who don’t have so many toys and by donating some of theirs, your children are making other children very happy.

#3 Implement the one in/one out rule

Make this a habit for all of you. If you buy something new then swap it out for something old. If you like clothes shopping but still like the idea of a minimalist wardrobe then buy a new bag by all means, but maybe give one of your existing bags away to charity? That way you still get to go shopping and enjoy a new bag but your wardrobe doesn’t get bigger in the process.

#4 Spend money on making memories

Suggest to your family that you spend your money on experiences rather than material possessions. Encourage them to stop buying new ‘stuff’ and use your money to go out for a family meal or a day out. You can have a lot of fun and come away with memories and photos rather than yet more clutter.

#5 Choose gifts carefully

Consider giving gifts that are for experiences rather than actual toys – what about annual passes to local attractions, vouchers for a dinner date, a magazine subscription, adopt an animal or name a star. There’s a huge variety of gift experiences on offer which may lead to exciting new opportunities rather than more stuff.

#6 Take it slow and be persistent

Over time your family will learn to love the benefits of Minimalism but you might have to take it slow with them at first. Be persistent but don’t throw away their stuff unless they’re totally on board and happy for you to do so, otherwise you’ll just upset them and they’ll dig their heels in for the future!

#7 Lead by example

Show them the benefits of Minimalism applied to different aspects of your daily life, whether it’s decluttering your home, simplifying your calendar so you have more free time, being more intentional with your finances so you don’t spend money on material possessions that make you feel good when you buy them only for them then to sit there unused and unwanted.

#8 No one-size-fits-all

Help your family understand that they don’t need to go minimalist in 0 to 60 seconds to experience the benefits. It’s not all or nothing and there are differing degrees of Minimalism.

#9 Bag it all up

Once you’ve managed to put some items in bags, make sure that you deal with them, then and there, before you’ve finished. Don’t be tempted to sit back and think you’re done until the rubbish bag is in the bin, the donate and recycle bags have been donated and recycled. Otherwise you’ll find your family rooting through the bags looking for items which they feel simply must be kept and all your hard work (and theirs) will be undone.

#10 Reward yourself

If you’ve decluttered successfully, no matter how much or how little, treat yourselves to something nice. A cup of tea and a biscuit, a dance around the room, take-away pizza, family film night. It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as it’s a treat for a great declutter session (just make sure it’s not a trip to the shops to buy yet more stuff)!

It may take time to find what works for you and your family. Go slow with them if you meet resistance, be persistent and use every opportunity you can to help them understand and reap the benefits of a more Minimalist life.

They’re more likely to want to give it a try, even if it’s just baby steps (one tool or stuffed toy at a time) and hopefully your family will thank you for it in the end!

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What To Do If You're The Only Minimalist In The House

4 Comments on “What to do if you’re the only Minimalist in the house”

  1. My husband invented ‘just in case’ …

    Small challenges seem to work though, like ‘let’s take 10 mins and see who can find the most items to get rid of’. Even if it’s just a couple of t-shirts that don’t fit anymore or some old pens, it’s better than nothing!

    1. Hi, yes I agree. That works in our household too! Small steps are better than none at all!

  2. When I go through a closet, bookcase, etc. I prepare a pile of things I think we no longer need. I tell everyone where it is, and give them a month to re-claim anything they want. They must find a tidy home for said item. Most times they don’t get around to looking. This way, I’m covered if they miss something; they had their chance.

    1. Such a great idea and I love the fact that you cover your back! I know how difficult it is when others in the home aren’t quite as keen on decluttering as you are!

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