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Minimalism and Baby Making

Photography by Bryon Lippincott

Sometimes the littlest things can derail simplifying the home space.  I want minimalist simple living and I know you want it too because you are here.  I have had questions from friends about what they should keep if they decide to have another kid and I wanted to do up a post on it.  Really, the big question is:

“What if I need this stuff down the road?  Shouldn’t I keep it?”

So, this post is specifically for those trying to sort out baby cloths, but the principles can spread just about anywhere. (so feel free to change the wording to apply to your specific situation if you want)

So you have your first darling little child. Life turns upside down and the contents of your house doubles.  Baby showers, grandparents, friends, and ever excited parents acquire everything possible that junior will ‘desperately’ need.  Typically there is a move or planned move to a larger living space.  Everything follows mommies belly and expands.  Storing stuff that junior is going to use or need for the next year or two becomes a problem.

After junior starts growing out of things and exiting the first few baby stages stuff starts being stored for junior #2.  The problem comes from the volume of stuff that junior #1 actually had.  Parents are still feeling the burn of the expense of junior #1 and are excited to try and spread the expense out on juniors #2-#15 ;).

But, stuff is stuff and we want less of it right.  As soon as you keep 15 boxes of baby things it makes sense to keep lots more things ‘just in case’ and the cycle carries right back to where you started….with too much stuff and wanting a simple minimalist life.

I wrote up some steps or questions to go through to tackle this tough issue.  Feel free to get rid of anything that fails these questions.

  1. Did junior #1 use it? – …. still have new baby outfits that were never worn? Shower gift packages that were never opened?
  2. Did junior #1 need it? – so much stuff is used because it is there, but it wouldn’t be missed if it wasn’t.
  3. Is it gender specific?
  4. Is it season specific? – 3-6 month cloths for a kid born at a different time of year don’t work well
  5. Is it stained?
  6. Is it broken?
  7. Is it recalled?

I would keep some of what is left only if you have plans for another child in the near future.

Lets look at a worst case scenario of what might happen if you get rid of all of it.  If you are embracing minimalist ideas, even though you have to buy again you will be buying much less because you know and understand what you need this time around.  Also, now that you are a mom and hang out with other moms there is a good chance someone will be looking for someone to hand down their baby things too.

But lets look at this farther.  If this storage is contributing to you having a bigger living space, bigger garage needs, or a storage unit take a look at those costs.  Lets average the cost of storage space at 50-300 dollars per month.  The low end being storage unit costs, the high end being bigger houses to hold all the junk (it could be much more, but lets keep it here).  For 2 years between kids this costs on the low end is more than 1000, and on the high end more than 7000.  I don’t know what you spent on all your baby stuff but mine was less than 1000.  If it is 3-5 years between kids….you get the idea.  Storing stuff is not always cheapest.   

I would suggest taking that money and having the fun of purchasing (new or used) specific stuff for the next little junior.

Sure, there are some things to keep.  I have kept an outfit or two from both my babies as memories and I think they will love to see and have that as they get older.  Some things might go through the list above and still make the cut to keep.  This is totally up to you, your family, and your plans.  Just don’t let the ‘what if’s’ derail the whole simplification process.

Proving the point with an example:

When my son was born my friend and next door neighbor brought over a box of cloths from her son that she wanted to pass on.  This was super sweet and I totally appreciated it.  The thing was that her youngest son was in eighth grade.  I went through the box and learned that it is a waste to hang onto things that long.  Lots of the cloths had elastic in them and the elastic had turned to powder (or popped when I tried to tug on it).  The styles were far gone.  Any stain or water mark had become a huge spot.  I was able to pull one cute button up shirt with sail boats on it out for him and it looked really cute.  However, the moral of the story is that it was a waste of space, hassle to move several times, and just baggage for all those years.

Happy sorting!

15 Comments

  1. Oh goodness I am the opposite of this story! I got rid of EVERYTHING as Noah grew out of it…I literally could not wait for him to grow, so I could switch things out! Out everything went…then I got unexpectedly preggers with Keegan. We had to buy a whole new wardrobe for the first year, an in-bed co-sleeper, diapers (extra cloth ones), car seat, pacifiers, etc. Thankfully, we borrowed some stuff and still had the big stuff (crib!), but we did shell out a couple hundred on the other stuff. Yes, we could have saved that money. However, it did make me take a hard look at what we REALLY needed this time around. There was much less that we actually “needed”…didn’t even get a changing pad or receiving blankets! The best part is that since we didn’t have to buy that extra stuff most 1st time moms think they need, I had more dough to spend on the clothes I actually liked. It actually worked out well for us 🙂

    • Yep, I totally understand. I got rid of almost everything after Lily. When Ian came around I got most handed down from other mothers or at garage sales. It wouldn’t have worked to keep much anyways because the had the gender and seasonal differences.

  2. I just went through my kids clothes last week, I had been hanging onto a lot of my daughter’s fancy dresses and other nice clothes (those little baby jeans are just so dang cute!). I was finally at a place where I could let go a lot of that stuff, and realize that I have a lot of pictures of said daughter in said clothes, so I don’t need to keep the clothes as well. Their closet now looks empty to me – and it actually is, I need to buy some long and short sleeve t-shirts for my kiddos now 🙂 You can see my post about it here http://www.townsend-house.com/2012/03/project-simplify-kids-stuff.html

    • Thanks for sharing your post 🙂 I love the little dresses and jeans too. So cute 🙂 You are right though, the pictures work great. I kept one baby dress of my daughters as a memory.

    • Doesn’t it feel good! Congrats on the move. Toys are another place that needs to clear out. Enjoyed your post, thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. I wish I had thought about these priorities 16 years ago when we started our family! My youngest is 3 and I’m so glad to move the outgrown baby clothes on to another family. I still haven’t figured out a good system to minimize this area of our life. We have 6 kids: 2 boys, 2 girls and 2 boys and the pairs of kids are close in age making it easy to pass on one size of clothes to the next. I try to keep just the classics (button down shirts & khaki for boys) as purchasing new clothes for 6 kids each season is cost prohibitive. Right now we are working on just cutting down on the sheer volume of clothes everyone has, more than we all need. Thanks!

    • Wow, 6 kids is a bunch of work sorting out. You know you will use them again so hanging on makes a bunch more sense in your case. I really cut down the number of cloths my kids have in their closets as well. More cloths really just equals more mess (just like extra toys). Thanks for your comment 🙂

  4. Mereta Mereta

    LOL you know this was for me 😉

    • You caught me 😉 Keep sending me more good post ideas. Haha, Post ideas 🙂 … sorry, been a long day.

      • Mereta Mereta

        You are too funny 🙂 now if only my husband would agree on the baby stuff- we did that with our first and we regretted it but I look at things differently now.

  5. With the first we got so many gifts. So many clothes (because it was a girl, and everyone LOVES buying little dresses for girls)…and so much never got worn—even once. Much can be donated or shared with others and you will still have plenty. You have shared some nice tips here, Lorilee.

    • Thanks, I had the same thing. Girls cloths are so fun. 🙂

  6. Jennifer G Jennifer G

    Going through that right now. We were sure we were going to be a one child family, so EVERYTHING went as my son outgrew it. And now here we are pregnant with our 2nd (on purpose), and having to get everything all over again. Thankfully our son just outgrew his 3-in-1 baby/toddler/double bed (well, the toddler version of it, anyway) so we have a perfectly good baby bed. But we need everything else, now including a bed for my older son since we are stealing his for his little brother. We are cloth diapering this time around and breastfeeding (if it kills me), to save both money and space. And I’m keeping stuff down to a minimum, the best I can. I only have 33 items on my baby registry. And a few of those items were “fluff” that could possibly be taken off.

  7. Michael Maloney Michael Maloney

    Now that our kids are growing up fast, my wife and I planned to give away their clothes and toys to her sister who has a newly born baby boy. It would be a great idea to pass the baby items to her (but we will be keeping a few that would remind us of our kid’s growing years). Being in the self storage facility business, we inculcated this habit of sorting things and grouping these to those that we could keep and those that we could give away. We have kept our house uncluttered even though we have young kids, who are always a magnet of clutter. Now, our kids know how to share their things and even giving these items that they do not use to those they think would find a better use of.

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