Baby Clutter

My post on Tuesday regarding clutter foisted on you from other well intentioned people inspired one readers to send me an email. I am so excited for this reader, even though she sees a potential problem looming I am thrilled for her. Not only because of her happy situation but because she has already discovered the joys of living with less before starting a family. What a great opportunity to for getting it right. My children were 18 & 20 went I embarked on my more minimalist lifestyle and although I am sure they will tell you I was a miser there were a lot of things I could have done differently and better.

Here is what our reader had to say…

“…I’m pregnant with our first and although I’m really happy about that I’m already getting anxious about the huge amount of stuff I see other new parents drowning in. I know you need some stuff for the baby, but since when did baby’s start to need stuff in stead of love, care and attention? (and food and clean diapers of course) I’m really interested if and how other readers have resisted the flow of stuff into the house as it seems that I allready get overwhelmed by the stuff offered or just plain dumped on me…”

When I had my first bub almost 23 years ago now I couldn’t afford to lavish her with stuff. We had gone from double income no kids to one income, a baby one month later and threw a home mortgage in on top of that seven months later. Luckily I found having baby to be relatively inexpensive because I really didn’t have to provide much except breast milk. Honestly the grandparents, uncles, aunts and friends provided just about all I needed. I let them know what I required and they gave it to us as gifts. Of course there was also lots of stuff given that we didn’t really need but in those days I was happy to receive anything and everything. I am much wiser now and so is my reader.

The beauty of pregnancy is that it takes, all going well, nine months to arrive at the wonderful day of delivery. That is nine months to prepare for the happy day. In this case that is nine months to let people know that it is important to you to maintain a more minimalist lifestyle even with a baby in the household. Now is the time to make it clear to people that you do not want to raise your child surrounded by unnecessary stuff.

I would suggest that mothers-to-be investigate what products they will need as the bare minimum to take care of baby from day one. Narrow it down to the specifics of what brands you prefer. Then let it be known to those around you who will not be able to resist (namely grandmothers-to-be) that these are the items you would really appreciate receiving. It takes the guess work out of gift giving for your loved ones and hopefully will appease their need to adorn baby with gifts without unnecessary clutter build up.

My reader is so right, there are only so many things that she will really need to begin with. The only things essential to a babies survival is food, clothing, shelter to be kept clean, have somewhere to sleep and last but certainly not least love.

Here is a list of things I would think to be essential for when baby arrives…

  • Somewhere for baby to sleep
  • Sheets and blankets
  • Something for transporting the baby safely in the car (If travelling this way)
  • A pram/buggy/stroller or sling (not immediately essential)
  • Diapers/nappies
  • Food and feeding supplies (If breastfeeding is unsuccessful)
  • Enough clothing to keep them cosy
  • Baby bath (optional)
  • Change table (optional)
  • Some toiletries ~ baby wash, lotion, powder.

Correct me if I am wrong but outside of that short list everything else is either optional or a requirement brought on by special circumstances. And this list gives lots of options for gift giving ideas.

Without wanting to sound melodramatic or pessimistic I personally don’t think it is advisable to acquire anything but the absolute essentials for bringing baby home prior to the birth. And even restraint should be shown to acquire those items until the last couple of months. It is unthinkable but unfortunately there is no guarantee that everything will go well. If all else fails this is a good point to make to those people who will try to insist on purchasing items for you in advance or who bombard you with all their consumerist ideas on what you  “absolutely will need” for you baby.

Now is the time to set the guidelines as to how you want to raise your child, without excess or unnecessary gadgets, thing-a-ma-gigs, fluff and nonsense. In a non-consumerist environment that respects nature and you and your child’s sense of identity. Stick to your ideals regardless of what others might think ~ because there is a good chance they are wrong ~ and if people do insist of endowing you with stuff you don’t need feel free to find it a new home. There are no shortage of people out there who would go without otherwise who would appreciate your kind donation.

Our reader would love to hear her fellow 365’ers views on this subject.

Today’s Declutter Item

Shopping for craft supplies is like shopping for baby supplies ~ you only need what you can use at the time. There is no need to stock up for the future. And once the items are not longer necessary pass them on to someone who might need them.

More craft supplies out the door

Something I Am Grateful For Today

The reader who was the inspiration behind this post. I congratulate you and wish you all the very best for the future.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


Continue reading with these posts:

  • Awkward clutter People give things to friends and family members for all sorts of reasons and three of those reasons are 1. Gifts  2. Trying to be helpful and  3. Offloading things they no longer have a […]
  • Useful Gifts? I’m Skeptical Cindy's Weekly Wisdom I hate to be a cynic, but I think I might be becoming one when it come to this oxymoron* ~ Useful gifts. More specifically, useful generic gifts. My mother gave me a […]
  • Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ You Don’t Have to Have One Too Every time you see something fun, intriguing, clever, imaginative, or functional at a friend's house, are you tempted to buy one for yourself too? When your child loves a toy that he or […]
About Colleen Madsen

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

Comments

  1. I bet there are quite a few of us who were lovingly placed in dresser drawers to begin with. My children never slept in cribs. One of my favorite baby gift is books for when the child is a bit older. Of course I used the library, but I consider children’s books in the home essential.

    I recommend taking a like-minded friend or relative who has a baby to the store with you and letting her show you exactly which products she finds essential and which she can happily live without. It’s hard to know when you haven’t done it before.

  2. Not buying stuff for babies is a challenge for me. We had our first grandchild 2 years ago, and I bought him a lot of stuff from garage sales around here that were in excellent condition. I know what name brands to buy and know a lot about what toys are the tried and true and the expensive ones in the toy store. I try to only buy the best, but was hard not to buy too much because I wasn’t sure what my daughter wanted. She was in school and money was tight, and she appreciated the help and stuff. I didn’t end up spending much at all since I also bought a few name brand winter things and took them to a resale shop and that money covered everything else I bought that summer. She kept what she wanted and shared with other poor college couples things that she didn’t want or need. She doesn’t live in a place where they have good garage sales, so she was grateful. Now that they are out of school, I don’t buy much at all. I ask before I buy and make suggestions of things that might be good for a gift at my grandson’s age. She chooses or asks me to look out for something she really wants. She is now passing on all the boy clothes to another daughter who is expecting and plan on just passing clothes back and forth to whoever needs them to save all of them money. She is expecting a girl and last year we found some adorable “‘Gap” outfits with shoes, etc. for hardly anything at a garage sale last year. She is set to start of and will just pass those clothes around when she is done. This makes it easier for “grandma” since I am not showing favoritism or buying more for one than the other. I can buy it once if I want to, and they just pass it around. My youngest daughter felt like she was a part of things since she chose the outfits we found at garage sales. I probably won’t be going to many garage sales this year, because they don’t really need much. They also are taking extra clothes they don’t need to a resale shop and trading for things they need. I do think you should be grateful for the things people give you and realize that they are happy for you and want to help. If they are good friends or family members, you can let them know what you need and want or ask for a gift card for diapers in the future or to donate to a savings account for the child. If they are not good friends, just receive it graciously. You can drop hints here and there if you really don’t want stuff, but be kind and gracious. Some people enjoy shopping and that is why they give gifts. Another thing to mention is to try to be more “Green” instead of buying everything new. Just getting things from friends is even better where you don’t have to search for it. I never had anyone who ever gave us stuff and could have really used it since we were in school, so I would be grateful to people for whatever they give, because it will save you lots of money and as long as you can pass them along to someone else, you have no commitment to keep them in your home to give back when you are done. Use it to bless someone else in need who can’t afford things or use it to your benefit by exchanging for what you want at a resale shop. The only thing that bugs me when people give something is if they come and ask to see it in your home. Now, that may be an idea for a new post, Colleen…….

    • Dear Spendwisemom,

      You sound like a really thoughtfull Grandma! And I just want to say that of course I am greatfull for all the stuff I need (or think I do) for the baby, it is just all the other stuff. I’m not even in second trimester yet and I’ve got bags and boxes full of stuff I find unnececery. I like to live simply out of choice to preserve the planet and hope that it will be a good place for my future child to grow up. Living simply is not something I need to do moneywise and I will keep on working after my baby is born. So although I’m glad that I don’t have to waste resourses by buying things new, we only have a small home and none of the charity shops or donation points in my area accept baby stuff anymore because they just can not cope with the ammount of stuff. So I seem to be stuck with boxes and boxes of baby stuff 🙁

      And that’s not even including the stuff I fear our family’s will want to give to the baby. (who needs a silver birthspoon anyway?, maybe I could cash it?)

      • Wow, I that’s a lot of stuff even before the baby is born! Are the things yours to keep or do you have to give them back? If I were you, I would go through them and only keep what I want and donate the rest to a women’s shelter or homeless shelter or take them to a thrift store if there are things you want and don’t have the money for. When you register, make you can just ask for gift cards instead to places like Walmart or Target that aren’t exclusively for babies or let everyone know that you have a savings account started at a certain bank. Congrats! I hope everything goes well for you!

    • Hi Spendwisemom – my sis-in-law had her 1st in her 30’s, and I thought she’d go crazy doing the ultimate nursery and designer everything – so was very surprised when she bought most things 2nd hand and re-finished them, and borrowed a beautiful crib off a friend. She says it is easier now that there is trademe (ebay) so you can shop from home, in my day there was a listing in the classified and often across the city and not want you wanted.

    • Hi Spendwisemom,
      your family seem to have done a great job of buying, using and sharing secondhand. Well done to you all. And I am sure that it is all gladly accepted or passed on if not needed and everyone is down with that.

      But although I would never throw something back into someones face, when it comes to gift giving, I don’t agree that just because someone else enjoys shopping I should have to happily accept stuff they give me. Especially if I have told them that I do not approve of rampant consumerism and would prefer not to receive gifts. That is like telling a vegetarian they should accept a hamburger from someone who loves meat. Not only will they not eat it but it goes against what they believe in (the ethical treatment of animals). My objection to people giving me gifts isn’t just because they might give me something I don’t like or want but that I am against rampant consumerism. I can’t control what other people buy for themselves but I sure should have some say in what other people buy for me. Does that make sense? It may seem a little anti-social to some people I suppose but If seems fair to me.

      • beautiful comment. you are so right about this. and I think reverse: its actually very anti-social to give without respecting the other in this. and seems like vegetarianism can always be a good comparison to anti-consumerism. 😉

        • I did think of you when I wrote that Lena, and thought you would approve. I must say I was glad of the comparison too, it really brought home my point.

      • Colleen,

        I appreciate your frank and honest answer and sharing your point of view. I look at clothing as being different from a hamburger. You can always bless someone else’s life by passing along the clothing, but you can’t pass along a hamburger for others to use when you are done. I have seen people offend others by their lack of gratitude. For example, I know two people that have concerns about their health: one quietly just eats what they can and doesn’t announce it to the world and the other announces it to everyone and comes off offensive and ungrateful. Even if I don’t really want something, I believe it is good to graciously accept it for the good intent is was given, and pass along the things I don’t want. We may also be saving those items from being put into a dumpster somewhere. My point was to remember to be kind, respectful and gracious when others make sacrifices for you. It doesn’t bother me that you disagree and I hope that you have not been offended. No offense was meant.

        • No Spendwisemom, I was not offended at all, I can understand you sensibilities on this subject. There are always at least two sides to every situation and on this one we just differ slightly. I, like you, believe it is important to be courteous and would politely accept gifts given to me. I would then pass them on as you suggest. But a person who knows me and my belief system when it comes to clutter and consumerism who also understands that I do not wish to receive gifts but insists on continuing to offer them anyway, aren’t they being somewhat discourteous.

          It intrigues me that you made the comparison between the clothing and a hamburger. My argument was not about the nature of the stuff but about the belief system behind the stuff. Should my belief system take a back seat to their wishes even though they are in direct opposition to one another. What I am hearing is that I should accept the giver for who they are ~ “Some people enjoy shopping and that is why they give gifts.” but they don’t have to respect me for who I am ~ Someone who is concerned for the environment and the level of clutter in my home.

          Using your example of the two women and their dietary needs.”…I know two people that have concerns about their health: one quietly just eats what they can and doesn’t announce it to the world and the other announces it to everyone and comes off offensive and ungrateful.” I don’t know these people nor the situation but perhaps the second person doesn’t like seeing food go to waste and has tried in the past to make it clear about her dietary needs but has been continually ignored and is now frustrated with the waste perpetually generated on her behalf. I have a friend who is diabetic, when we go to their home for a meal they never offer dessert, so when they come to our house I don’t include dessert on the menu either. Even though I love my dessert I feel I would be rude to not only tempt them with it but to eat it in front of them. I feel their greater need should usurp mine in this situation. Likewise I think that someones desire to shop comes second to my need to not pollute the environment. I personally feel that their need is superficial to mine in this instance.

          That being said, I don’t expect you to change how you feel about this subject I just want to present my point of view so you can have a full understanding where I am coming from.

  3. One of the most fun, “green” things in my opinion is having friends or relatives with older kids to give us hand-me-down clothing, and also having friends/relatives with younger kids to whom we can eventually give those same clothes. Since I don’t love shopping, receiving a big bag of used clothes has always been great fun, plus a time-saver, and of course a money-saver. My daughter loves getting “new” clothes from her slightly-older friends and it inspires a friendly connection and nice thoughts while wearing them. We’re still at it although my kids are now 11 and 13. When passing along the clothes to others, we always say “Take what you want and give the rest to the Goodwill,” thus letting people know we aren’t offended if they don’t want to keep them.

    I agree with your advice about starting slowly and cautiously on acquiring any baby “equipment,” as much of it is just consumeristic nonsense. It’s not nice to clutter up a baby’s room, or your whole house, with bulky plastic items that are more of an eyesore than anything else. Once they start walking and toddling around, it’s nice not to have a lot of clutter in their way or under foot.

  4. Sabrina from Italy :

    I have no children yet, but when I have given gifts to new parents I always tried to avoid toys, imagining they already have many, and bought some clothes instead, but not for immediate usage: thinking of what season will be in 6 months and buying bigger clothes (6-9 months size) I hope I avoided adding up to the “newborn size” clothes that I’m sure they already had bought / received. This way when the baby is bigger they already have something. Sometimes I also bought children books, but this mostly for 2-3 years old birthdays. A couple of times I also gave a gift card for a shop that sells all you need for a baby, from clothing to food to diapers to strollers, so the parents can choose what to buy.

  5. Rebecca B. A. R. :

    I saw that The Minimalist Mom just wrote an e-book on this very subject, called The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year. It is only around $10, so your reader may be interested in it.

  6. I have no children so I can only speak from the experience of being the friend of several who have grandchildren and the excess I see in those situations. For instance, I have a friend who has one room in her house she calls the girls room. She has 3 granddaughters. The youngest will soon turn 5. That room has so many toys stuffed in it you can barely get around. This grandmother has been known to go to yard sales or other sales and buy a car load of toys or garabage bags full of clothes. Not long ago she bought the youngest 50 pieces of clothing for $5. they were all in good condition and fit. But I have to ask what child needs all that clothing? From what I have seen the child has over 100 pieces of clothing. She no longer has to be changed a several times a day. Why does she need 14 Barbies along with every building for Barbie that is out there? I don’t understand this idea of having so much for kids. Added to that, the child has that much at home too. I think we need to be really careful about how we buy things because that child is being taught to want to have lots of things.

    • I have a friend who is a minimalist, and her daughter has in the wardrobe a set of plastic cube drawers. The drawers pull right out. The top one is Barbie, the 2nd one is craft stuff and I can’t remember what is the 3rd one. But that is it. When she wants to play with Barbie she pulls out the drawer-cube, plays and then later when her mum tells her pack up, away it all goes and back into the drawer unit.
      Its so true, she doesn’t need Barbie’s Vet Clinic, Barbie RV Camper Van or Barbies Pool Party.

      I fell into the toy trap when mine were little – I had this Fairy God Mother complex that I wanted them to have things to make them happy and to have something tangible of the love I felt for them, and to help with my guilt for returning to work, and all we ended up with heaps of stuff that didn’t get played with all that much.

      If I had my time over I would buy few toys and join a toy library.

    • I am with you all the way Deb J. Why turn them into rampant consumers from the start.

  7. I was an evil mother (I still am, the boys say). When they were very young I used to “vet” all their gifts and either put away for the future things that were not age appropriate or charity shop things that I felt had no educational/developmental value at any age. Sometimes I would put things in the loft to see if they would ask for them. They had 3 months and then the item was gone (it was easy to do this around birthdays and Xmas when new stuff came in). This still happens. Last year Granny gave them both a torch/folding knife thing for Xmas (same as the last couple of years actually). There is no need whatsoever for a “townie” boy to carry a knife (in my opinion) so I put them in a cupboard and they’ll be gone soon too. Despite all this, they still have absolutely MASSES of stuff in their rooms!

  8. Thanks Colleen for writing this post! I’m really interested to read how other people coped with this the situation!

  9. I recently read an excellent nutrition book that had a chapter on food marketed for or to children. It mentioned that baby food isn’t a necessity (although perhaps a convenience), but marketing convinces people it’s needed. Children used to go from breast milk to soft table foods. Now the grocery stores have an entire section devoted to little jars of baby food. How did we ever survive on what our parents and grandparents fed us? 🙂

    • that’s just so true! I sometimes wonder too how I survived up to adulthood as I I think thirt years ago there must have much less stuff to keep me alive :). Funny though the only things I have already found takers for are those unnesecery babyfood jars. lots of men want them, I think they use them to sort screws and stuff.

      • my mum who works in a kindergarden uses them for finger paint… screws and stuff is also good. I prefer small jars for my spices and herbs.

    • Hi Anita, as I’ve said further down, when mine were babies money was really scarse for us, as I was off work unexpectedly longer than planned. I found that baby cans were stretching the budget so I decided to peel an apple and make my own. This might sound really obvious to you but I am catering-challenged, so this was a big breakthru for me. And when I told my mum, thinking she’d be so proud of me…..she was like “Duh! That’s all we used to do!”

    • We survived much better I would say on fresh healthy home cooked pureed food with no preservatives.

      • I made nearly all of my daughters’ baby foods. I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I cooked or boiled the food until soft, ran it through the blender and froze it in ice cube trays. Once it was frozen, I popped the cubes out and stored them in plastic bags. The only thing that was a failure was potato – it gets really nasty and starchy after going through the blender.

        • lol. just the other day, I decided to prove a friend wrong who exactly said that. yeah, she was right… My potatoes turned into glue. I ate it anyway, the taste was still there after all 😉

          I didnt get the discussion of buying baby food in the first place. isnt that WAY more expensive than making it yourself??

        • I cooked most of my baby’s food as well. I borrowed a potato ricers for this task though which worked very well although a bit more effort than blending. The potatoes came out much nicer though.Have you ever tasted that shop bought baby food. We play a game at baby showers here where the jars are presented to everyone without the label. You all get to taste it and write down your answer to what flavour you think it is. I can barely ever distinguish what is what they all taste so bad.

  10. In our household we have a “two use” rule. For example, will the tool that my husband just bought be used for at least two different projects? My children’s favorite toys were ones that belonged to me and my husband when we were young, two generations of use and being saved for a possible third, not much qualifies. Of course, the best toys of all are sticks and mud.

    So, for baby things, some hand-me-downs would serve well. Or ask yourself, did your mother or grandmother use a similar item for their babies? Be firm about not falling prey to the commercialization of a new baby!

    • I like that advice, if your grandma didn’t need it probably neither do you. These thoughts went through my mind while I was writing this post. In fact being 40+ years old and seeing the stuff new mum’s have these days I wonder whether it is more of a hindrance than a help.

  11. I remember chatting to a colleague who had immigrated from Russia to the UK and she told me that the Russian custom was that it was bad luck to bring things for the baby into the home before s/he was actually born. I guess that might well be a hangover from an era when too many poor babies died during birth. She was a doctor herself and was keeping this custom. I think it’s a good idea not to burden the new parents with too much stuff which is only suitable for the tiniest baby as they grow so quickly; some children I know didn’t ever fit into 0-3 months size clothes, they were too big for them at birth. And perhaps loving grandparents and friends need to declare a moratorium of soft toys as every child I know is in danger of being buried alive in them.

    I was laughing with a girl cousin the other year about how different things were in our early 1960s infancy and how we managed to grow into healthy, happy individuals without a fraction of the kit which is now deemed necessary. It’s such a shame marketeers have to manipulate parents’ natural anxieties and desires to give their children the best………Excellent advice to find a sensible and experienced Mum or Dad to be your guide and mentor in sorting the useful from the useless when hitting the shops.

    • Grey Queen you are right about sizing – a size 3 month old outfit, may not suit the season if the baby is tiny, slow grower, or is a whopper. I prefer to give a Pumpkin Patch gift voucher so they can get what they need. I can remember having stacks of clothes that my son never wore because my beautiful friends grabbed something cute without thinking about season or sizing. I was the first to have children, so my baby shower was more like a hens party, lots of single career girls and beached whale me 🙂

    • Good advice GreyQueen

  12. I loved this post! I am pregnant, after many years, and it is sweet to know that we have cleaned up our spare room already, before getting pregnant. I had few things when my others were babies, but got too much for gifts, particularly huge, loud toys. This time I won’t expect so much, but if we do get things we can’t use, I plan to happily pass them along to someone who will enjoy them.

  13. Thanks for this post! My kiddo is 6 months, and I’ve been planning to write about this issue for a while but hadn’t gotten around to it. I finally did, and it’s over at my blog if anyone wants to check it out. Bottom line, I had to fight hard to keep the baby clutter to a minimum, but it worked and has set a good precedent. Less stuff means less stress for me, and that’s good for the baby too!

    Here is a link to my post: http://knitfitter.blogspot.com/2012/03/baby-essentials-and-baby-clutter.html

  14. Mine are now 17, just about to turn 15 and just about to turn 14 – yes 13 months between my last two and yes that was hard work and no we didn’t plan it that way 🙂

    My eldest slept in a cot from the start and was happy, but my 2nd didn’t like that arrangement. As we’d just bought our first house and a do-upper at that which required a lot of improvements that could not wait, money was scarse. And I mean really scarse! I couldn’t afford a crib and as I didn’t plan to have any more babies couldn’t justify getting on HP or charge card. (this was pre-ebay days). So I used the baby bath. I put a pillow on the bottom, made it up with sheets etc, and everyone slept happily. My friends were appalled, but I told them that baby didn’t care. I do need to add that I did take the mattress/pillow out every day to air given that it was plastic. But it got me thru those first couple of months.

    So what did we bath the baby in? Well, in the laundry tub. Yes once again friends were appalled, but it was deepeer than a baby bath and she loved the floaty feeling (my eldest hated baths so this was a lovely change for us) and we have beautiful photos of her little face smiling out from among the bubbles. As I’d had a ceasarian this was actually easier for me not having to bend so much, and then I’d take her out and pop her onto ……..the washing machine lid covered in towells.

    Ok it wasn’t my dream nursery, but we were young, first mortgage and two little ones, and you do what you have to. And baby doesn’t care as long as it fed, changed and loved.

    • Well done Moni,
      just about everything except the pram was secondhand for my kids and I was find with that. And they got bathed in the wash tubs more than once too. I had a baby bath at home (secondhand) but when we went to visit people the tub was good enough. I look back on those times with pride now and didn’t feel like I was missing anything then either.

  15. The other bit of advice I have is this: Join a toy library.

    • Yes Moni, I was just going to say that! We loved being in the Toy Library when my kids were younger (now 15 & 13 yrs). Its a great way to have good quality toys, that are usually expensive and out of my price range. We could borrow for 2 weeks and the kids were usually bored with the toys after that anyway, so back they would go and new ones chosen. Kid heaven and bliss for me too! I like to give a Toy Library membership as a child’s 1st or 2nd birthday gift.

      • Bronwyn that is a brilliant idea to give a membership as a gift, I will look into that one.

        • My kids weren’t overwhelmed with toys either, not like kids of today seem to be. What I did do with my kids was play with them myself a lot. Drawing, playdough, card and board games, swings in the park… They even played with rice in a baking pan at times for something different. They also spent a lot of time playing with other kids in the neighbourhood.

          • I always felt we didnt have enough toys. Although now I have to admit, I might have been wrong here. We had the biggest Lego collection (and a supercool platform that my dad made for us) in the neighbourhood, but we didnt own ANY toy that required batteries. I guess you always want the stuff you dont own.

            I can remember my mum saying: if you are bored go outside and ask your friends if they want to play with you. I dont want to see you for the next 3 hours. and then for 3 hours I was busy playing hide and seek, catching, teasing the mad woman at the hill who was always yelling at us… ah, childhood memories.

            • You hit the nail on the head with that remark Lena ~ “I guess you always want the stuff you don’t own.” That is what gets us all in a decluttered mess in the first place.
              My siblings and I didn’t have a lot of toys when we were young either but that was probably a lot more normal then. I certainly didn’t feel I was missing out on anything. We made the most of what we had. Having three brothers and a sister I had plenty to play with without needing toys. We also had access to bits of wood and my dad’s tools which he didn’t mind if we played with so long as we put them back. We lived by a river in which we swam, dangerous now that I think about it but we never swam alone. We climbed trees and rode out bikes all over the place. Our kids are so protected in comparison these days. I think we had it so much better than they do.

              • we didnt have a river, but the bikes and the near by swimming center (with two HUGE slides), we also climbed trees and we also were together with other kids most of the time. I only felt I was missing out on something, because my parents were very strict with TV and computer things. I remember that I was often jealous and envied my friends for their cool mums who would allow them to watch as much TV as they wanted to. thats for sure not the way to raise children too, but somehow you need to find a balance between super strict and laissez-faire.

  16. Ok – what to do if you find yourself given/dumped with tonnes and tonnes of baby clothes. First of all remember that the giver was probably a wee bit emotionally attached to these items and couldn’t bare to throw anything out.

    Sort thru and anything stained or needing repairs – get rid of. If you are spoiled for choice, be spoiled, be fussy.

    Second, I saw this recently, a friend of a friend is the youngest of 5 sisters, all of whom had already had 2-3 children each. They’d gave her bags and bags and bags of baby clothes.
    So here was the master plan: she split them into neutral (which was usually only new born sizes), boy and girl. (Lets not get into the boys can wear pink and girls can wear blue debate). She proceeded to sort each group into sizes ie boy 3 month, girl 3 month etc etc and each size got its own cardboard box labeled appropriately. These went into baby’s wardrobe.
    Items that could be worn by either and that are valuable such as jersies and rain jackets got their own box, but she wrote on the side of the box what was in there so she didn’t need to go rummaging or overlook that she had something in a particular size.
    When baby was born a girl – all the boy stuff got put up in the ceiling, and I imagine if she has a son, it will all be swapped over.

    She said she had to do it that way to save being overwhelmed. She did think about doing it by season too, but in the end she just went with size as babies grow at their own rate, and if baby was a size 9 months in Spring she just took out what she needed, and put box back in the cupboard.

  17. When my girls were little, I bought the eldest Pumpkin Patch clothes which were good quality, but not excessively expensive. There is only 13 months between my daughters, so everything was handed straight down.

    My sis-in-law’s sister lives near me (and is a good friend) and she asked if I could keep the stuff as she wanted to start her family soon.

    Yes there was a 5 year wait storing the first of the toddler sized clothes, but that’s what ceilings storage is for, and that’s what’s family is for.

    So each year I kept clothing up until my youngest was 10. And I tell Treen she was under obligation to keep or use any of it, keep what they want, get rid of what they don’t. As I had more space that her, I only handed over a couple of sizes at a time. Now Jenna is 8 and the last of it has gone to her. She LOVES having her big cousin’s stuff.

    Now all the minimalists and anti-clutterers out there are scratching their heads, thinking, isn’t this everything we DON’T believe in???

    I’m getting to it. So my girls each had a year wearing the clothes, then 5 years later, my sis-in-law’s sister had a daughter Jenna, she wore them, 2 years later the next daughter Peyton wore them.

    Recently I was visiting my sister-in-law and her daughter Jessie is now wearing the very same clothes my eldest wore 10+ years ago! Had to replace a zip in a jacket, and not everything survived the first four girls, but my niece’s wardrobe is made up clothes bought in early 2000’s .My sis-in-law has recently had a baby daughter, and she said she fully intents to keep them for her too.

    So while I would never keep anything that long again, I’m really glad we did, as the same pieces of clothing will go thru six of our girls, and that is most excellent value for our money!

    Not surprisingly, boys clothing doesn’t seem to last long enough to hand down. Everything is so stained and torn, its just too embarressing! My son was 14 when his only male cousin was born, so wasn’t an issue.

  18. Refuse the things people want to give you. For now.
    The first months, they just need you, clothes, and a few health items like a thermometer.
    My main advise would be to accept things, or buy second hand, only when you need it, so you know exactly what you need. And then get rid of them as soon as you don’t need them anymore.
    I think toys are a must in the first years. They do need to explore a variety of things, on their own. Toddler music, books, DVD, sometimes even toys, you can find for free at the library. No clutter!

    That’s how I would do it if I had to do it again 🙂 10 years after I still have clutter from their first years…. I sold a baby gate last week! It had been stored in the back of a closet for years! 90% of my clutter is kids’ related stuff.

  19. OMG OMG OMG!!!! It’s babies that start the evil clutter! hahahaha when my son was born you would have thought I’d given birth to the first Prince of Persia! Oh my Lord he was the only boy born into a family of girls, whoa!!! I was inundated with everything you could possibly imagine and more! Somewhere in the ‘Stuff Storm’ was a baby with at least 30 ‘onesies’. My son was a big bubba and grew so fast he bypassed everything. No one within a decent radius had a boy so I was showered with everything. I did fall into the trap of having the latest and greatest all from the family, well meaning and great at the time but what a job to keep up with it all!

    If I had my time over knowing what I know now I would have slammed the door and moved to another country till the child was well past the mid school age hahahaha. Although well meaning it can get on top of you so fast. All that baby needs is his/her parents love and attention and feeding and a few choice items neccessary to get through the day in a happy way. No child I know was damaged from having a bath/bed, a few 2nd hand clothes and very few baby toys. So why is it so hard for everyone around us to comply with our wishes! I don’t know why but I do know that although a few people may be put out, just ask for money or cash cards, gift cards to stores that sell variety goods and you can get what you want when you need too. If I had the money instead of the goods I got when my ‘Prince’ arrived I’d still be using it I’m sure! The baby goods merry-go-round is massive and truth be told you only need the absolute minor essentials.

    Babies have a habit of ‘growing’ that is their job and they tend to do it in jumps and jives. My advice would be to deal with what you have been given right now and make plans to let everyone know what you want. I just want to know who said you have to have the best of everything straight away, baby has no recollection that you may have dressed them 2nd or 3rd or 4th hand, or that they slept in a pretty drawer or had a straight forward run of the mill highchair or even just mum’s lap.

    My Mum raised 4 kids in a 2 storey house with a huge staircase and never needed a baby gate! We also ate whatever was going it just got mashed and as soon as we could walk that’s what we did, my Mum used the same pram for us all, and the same cot, although my brother slept in a drawer until my Dad finished building the cot. We all survived. Yes money was short but when they became Grand parents I think they thought they should give the G-Kids what they couldn’t give us! Beware of the Grands!!!

    ‘You are about to enter the Twilight Zone’ 🙂 🙂 🙂 Good luck with the baby gear and Blessings to you for the safe arrival of your ‘Prince or Princess’ just minus all the trappings! Have Fun!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Stuff Storm – I like it!

    • You are so right about the grandparents trying to make up for what they couldn’t give us. Although it wasn’t the case for both sets of g-parents with my kids. My mum’s mission is always to make the kids laugh and spend time having fun with them. I think I know who I took after. My mother-in-law was the things and baby nurturing one. Kiss and cuddles and stuff.

      Your boy would have been as hard to predict size wise for the next season as mine were but for opposite reasons.

  20. When my kids were babies/toddlers we didn’t have a lot of money due to mortgage and going back to one income. I would scrounge garage sales and markets because I didn’t want the children to miss out on having what I misguidedly thought was needed (advertising marketing, pressure of keeping up with the Jones). It was not a positive aspect of my life because:

    – I wasted time going to these “sales”
    – I wasted money, even though they were cheaper than the original prices if bought new
    – I was totally cluttered with stuff
    – The kids hardly used the stuff
    – I had to sort through the stuff
    – It was harder to clean up because there was so much stuff
    – I had to get rid of the stuff when they outgrew it – all exhausting and time wasting when I could have been focused on other things like cooking more wholesome meals for them.

    People passed on things anyway when their kids had outgrown them which was great but did add to the clutter. If I had my time over I would be more discerning in what I would accept and/or accept and reassess and pass on. I look at the advertising mail I get in the post and laugh at all the merchandising and pressure to get the latest licenced product e.g. sleeping bag, cup and saucer etc, etc. Buying these products is just advertising them further.

    One thing I do think is great to have in the house but can be borrowed from the library is books.

    I remember a mother of a friend of one of my children who had older children as well said she hated toys. How could she hate toys I wondered? I now get it – they cluttered up her life. Looking back, when I was a child I had very few toys in comparison to my friends and I now realise I was over compensating my kids for what I didn’t have. At least I can now see this!!!

    I laughed at a friend who gave minimal things to her child for her first birthday and Christmas and now think it is a great idea. The child is not going to feel less loved for not having presents when they have no idea what presents are. They need love.

    If people ask you what to buy for the baby when it is born, maybe you could ask for home cooked meals for the freezer, nappies and baby wipes or a pedicure or massage!!

    Everyone loves the joy a baby brings and many people will shower you with presents. I know of someone who puts the baby in the outfit, takes a picture (just in case they are ever asked if the present was used) and passes it on if it is not to their liking.

    My children are still young teenagers but when they have children I will not be cluttering up their lives with “stuff”.

  21. Julia St. Charles :

    Thanks for posting this. When I was in college and friends started having babies in our “hippie” community I remember how little everyone got by on and the kids turned out just fine. Nowadays women go home from a baby shower and need a moving truck for all the stuff.

    This is another reminder too, for those of you saving stuff “on behalf of” your children, “for them to have when they grow up,” or “for memories.”

    NO ONE remembers being an infant. So no adult will have sentimental feelings about their infant toys and clothes, simply because they do not remember that part of their lives.

    So if you insist on saving infant “memory items,” admit that you are saving them for your OWN memory box, people. Your kids will not remember being infants. That’s a section of “memory lane” that will not BE there for them. And remember, the local battered women’s center needs gently used baby things MUCH more than your attic does. Take pictures of baby items if YOU must have a visual cue for that memory, and give most things away when the last child outgrows them.