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Topic: How your childhood affects the way you accumulate stuff

  • I would love to hear your viewpoint on how you think your childhood has affected the way you accumulate items in your home. Does it also affect your desire to acquire things in the first place.

    I am also intrigued as to how similar upbringings can have two completely oposite outcomes on the above mentioned behaviours. It is clear that subtle differences can have an enormous impact.

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Shoot! I’m on a FaceBook free month, so I’ll just have to post here. My parents are big keepers and buyers. My dad had a horrible upbringing and had almost nothing during his childhood, which caused him to be a massive keeper as an adult. My mother keeps things, but is the big buyer in our house. My brother is a bit of a buyer and definitely a keeper. My sister is a big buyer. And me? I’m the minimalist who hates buying things most of the time. I have rebelled against my upbringing most of my life. I just wonder now how my minimalistic tendencies will affect our boys. I don’t want to be a catalyst to future hoarders, but I just can’t give up my inherent need for minimalism.

  2. I grew up traveling and with minimal things. It’s been fascinating to see how each of us turned out regarding clutter and stuff. We each turned out cluttery on various levels, but a few of us have become either minimalist or are striving for it. We didn’t ever have to learn to care for a lot of stuff or ever have the need to learn to get rid of clutter. Some of us probably keep to much for that reason, others for fear, and still others just don’t know how not to be cluttery.

  3. My parents were very loving, neat, clean, organized people. They taught me by example that
    1. A treasured possession deserved to be cared for, and luxury items were acquired after much thought.
    2. Everything you own should have a home (A place for everything)
    3. Your home should be a place where your friends and neighbors love to hang out.
    4. It just feels better to be clean. Fresh linens!

    I grew up in a series of rentals, so white walls with nice pops of color was it. Never any clutter, even though both my parents enjoyed flea markets and shopping in general. I’d go to friend’s homes and would have to fight the urge to dust or pick up dirty dishes & clothes off that were lying around. I learned that it takes a lot less work and stress to keep a minimalist place clean & comfortable than to clean up a great big terrible mess. My parents didn’t smoke or drink but served alcohol to guests and didn’t mind people smoking in the house. They had lots of friends who came over often for dinner or to play cards. My friends enjoyed staying over and we had lots of slumber parties. My childhood influenced me a lot — to pay cash, to save for a rainy day, to live simply, to set up my home as a gathering place for friends. And we kids always had a variety of pets. 4 kids = at least 4 exotic pets plus my parents always had a bird and a dog, and a cat or two.

    I am more minimal than my parents, because I never liked the whole drapery / carpet thing. Most of my windows are curtain-free. I have no rugs, no dishwasher; no his and hers dressers, we have a lot less camping equip than they had ( we are ultralight minimalist backpackers) and we have empty closets & cupboards in our house. My parents never had an empty closet or cupboard.
    (we only have 2 cats.)
    I live in a small house (approx. 1,100) that feels much larger due to empty spaces. My husband likes it, and found de-cluttering to be freeing once he started. (he has a lot of clothes, shoes, and books but he’s very organized)
    It’s fun to have parties, because I like to cook huge feasts, and people seem to relax & settle in to stay a good while. We never worry about messes or breakage, so we really enjoy gatherings. Smokers are pleased, that in winter, that they can sit comfortably in our nearly empty basement with a cocktail & have a cigarette with another smoker, rather than put on a parka and stand outside in the snow. I do keep extra chairs /misc. for parties & holidays tucked away down there.

    My siblings are very neat, clean and organized, they buy a lot more things than I do, but they also declutter and donate. I’m very comfortable in their homes.

    My daughter and most of my nieces and nephews are fairly neat & organized and probably half of them are pretty serious about trying to live simply, green, & vegetarian.