I had my first child while living in a very small, two-bedroom house. We were low on storage, so when we moved in, we got rid of a ton of stuff because we didn't want to feel overwhelmed every time we opened a damn closet. Then, we got pregnant a few months later and, before I knew it, we were making room for the third member of our family.
Goodbye, spare bedroom and extra storage closet—we had to make room for this precious gift. During the process, I was very selective about what I wanted because I knew we could only afford a little bit of space. I guess we could have used that dining room buffet as a changing station, but I rather liked to store dishes in there instead of diapers and something about changing him two feet away from where we had dinner every night was unappetizing.
I purposely kept my gift registry light. I didn't want my tiny house to look like I was running a daycare. I felt a crib, bassinet and pack'n' play would even be a stretch, but I heard you needed those things. I didn't go out and buy a ton of clothes either. The kid only had one dresser with four drawers. I knew he would grow out of things super fast, so I figured less was more. And, by that, I knew less stuff meant I would feel more sane.
So, when neighbors and friends I hadn't seen for a while came by to drop off some of their old baby stuff because they "thought it would be helpful," I began to get a bit testy. It was clear some of them were simply using my home and the fact I had a newborn as an opportunity to get rid of all the old baby crap they didn't want.
Grandmothers and women I used to work with came out of the woodwork. They would stop by and say, "I heard you had a baby. Here, you can have this baby swing/ bouncy seat/play gym/chest of ratty clothes/dirty baby toys."
They don't need four years' worth of onesies or frilly dresses—so, please, stop the madness.
I know some meant well and were genuinely trying to help, but I got a strong feeling some of them had been traveling around with old baby gear in their car and their first thought was, "Hey, Katie's house is closer than Goodwill and she just had a baby. Perfect!"
I can pretty much guarantee if a new mom doesn't have everything she needs and then some, she will let you know or someone close to her will spread the word. Parents of a 6-week-old only have so much space and patience for toys their baby can not play with until they are 2. They don't need four years' worth of onesies or frilly dresses—so, please, stop the madness.
Don't drop by to see a new mom with your old baby stuff, your sister's old baby stuff or your grandson's baby stuff, unless you have asked her (or her partner) if they need what you are giving away first.
It's not because they aren't grateful. It's because they can't find a sense of calm when they are drowning in baby crap (or toddler crap). It makes them feel like they may lose their damn mind. Clutter can make anyone feel agitated but throw it on top of a huge life change and it's downright paralyzing.
There's only so much storage dedicated for child stuff. If a new mom can't use an item or doesn't have a space to put it away for later, it's she and her partner who do the dirty work to get rid of it—and that's the opposite of being helpful.
To get started on a clutter-free lifestyle, go through your home with a basket or paper bag, room by room, and return everything to its rightful location. Found the drill and a bunch of screws? Return it back to the garage. Kid's shoes, toys and the like should go to the appropriate place. Remove dry-cleaning from the front closet and so on. You won't be able to move onto the next step if you continually run into objects that belong somewhere else.