The older I get, the more I feel an intense urge to purge unnecessary items. Every time I look around my house, I see clutter, clutter, and more clutter.
Papa Y, once a champion hoarder, is slowly starting to see the light, too. For example, once he realized his dusty collection of Atari games will not fetch him a small fortune on eBay, he got rid of them. And I have started to catch him wandering around the house, picking something up, and asking me if I would “miss it.” My answer is almost always no.
Unfortunately, a powerful force is working against my desire to streamline: my child. For every item I have set free at Goodwill, Baby Y’s very presence has meant five more have taken its place.
Babies = SO MUCH CRAP.
While I was pregnant, I fantasized at various points about how I would pen a book on minimalist child-rearing. I would detail the good ol’ days, when kids needed little more than a cardboard box and a kazoo to entertain themselves. And I would opine that surely babies didn’t need five different types of swaddling blankets, a bouncer AND a swing, and then a new bouncer when they outgrow the old bouncer, and …
Well, whatever claim I made to being a minimalist flew out the door when Baby Y was born. I soon realized that any item – any item at all – that promised to make parenthood easier was one that I had to have immediately. I was (am) a total sucker like that.
In reality, I do not regret most of these purchases. The first months with a baby can be so hard. Baby Y’s cradle swing took up a substantial chunk of real estate in our living room, for instance, but he slept so sweetly in it that I would have paid for it in precious gems and solid gold, if forced.
But now that he’s outgrowing a lot of these items, I am getting twitchy again. And the fact that we may have more kids one day means I can’t just throw a big yard sale and reclaim some square footage. And so the swing sits in the corner of the living room and laughs at me. The barely used Bumbo taunts me in the nursery. The bouncer clutters a corner of Papa Y’s office. And so on.
If I got a do-over when it came to the accumulation of baby stuff, here’s what I’d try to do differently:
- I wouldn’t buy so much in advance. (To be fair, I would have blithely ignored this tidbit when I was pregnant, as I’m sure most mothers-to-be do. The nesting urge is powerful, I know.) Some irrational part of me was convinced that I would never again have time to shop after the baby got here. Less time? Sure. No time? Nah. And with the advent of the Internet, you don’t even have to go to the store.
- I wouldn’t abuse Amazon (as much). This especially goes for Prime users. Whatever I want at my door in two days or less? No sales tax? Cheaper than the big-box stores? Yes, please! The number of Amazon boxes that have come through the doors of this house since Baby Y got here is obscene. Oh, and TURN OFF YOUR ONE-CLICK ORDERING, people!
- I would wait a few days before throwing money at the problem. I’ve slowly learned that babies go through phases. Lots and lots of phases. Sometimes they’re long, but sometimes they’re over almost as quickly as they began. When Baby Y was teething, for instance, I was convinced he would be teething for the rest of his life, so I think I ordered every teether known to man. A few would have sufficed. Oh, and when he started fighting the swaddle, I ordered more swaddle contraptions, all short-lived, before I finally figured out that he was probably telling me, “Hey mom, I really don’t need this anymore.”
- I would borrow more items with short lifespans from friends. I would put things like the Moby Wrap, Bumbo, and bouncer in this category. If you find that your child will be an absolute miserable shell of a baby if and when you return them, you can always buy one yourself.
- I would hold off on stocking up on diapers. I have a ton of newborns, 1s and 2s that never even made it onto his behind because I obviously overestimated how many I would need.
- I would try not to buy a lot of clothes. Obviously, this is not new advice, but Papa Y and I snagged a bunch of stuff on clearance and generally had a field day doing so. I figured there wasn’t much harm since 1) we got such great deals and 2) boys generally aren’t on the receiving end of quite as many gifted clothes as girls. Well, combine what we bought with what was gifted to us (much more than I expected) and we have so many outfits that have never been worn or have only been worn once. (However, I will say I have enjoyed not having to do Baby Y’s laundry constantly!)
Do you have any strategies for keeping the tide of baby stuff at bay?