Written by Estelle and Julia at The Clearing Concept
If there is one thing I would have done differently when becoming a parent, it would have been how much I gave in to the pressure to buy as much as possible for the tiny little humans in my life. Everything had to be new. I had to have everything, ‘just in case’ and I couldn’t imagine my precious little bundle of joy in something another baby had already used, no matter what the rational part of my brain was telling me. We could afford it and so why not? By the time the second one came along I would have a very different view on this, but for now, there was no such thing as enough. I searched lists online of all the things I could and ‘should’ buy. I felt good as I got closer and closer to ticking everything off. Even as founders of a decluttering and organising business, we too are far from perfect.
The panic sets in that you won’t have enough. The fear that you might be judged at a parenting class because you don’t have this, or you don’t know what the latest gadget is, is too much to bear, especially when hormones are raging and nesting tendencies taking over.
It’s only when you have piles and piles of stuff lying around and stressing you out that you realise where it all went a bit wrong. Charity shops are bursting at the seams; you can’t even give the stuff away, and friends turn down your offers of barely used items in favour of buying the latest version. You might get lucky and sell it on ‘Facebay’ for a fiver, but it can all leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
We are not here to tell you what kind of parent to be or what choices to make, but to share our opinions, knowledge and experience of having to deal with the other side of over-consumption, particularly when it comes to preparing for a new arrival. We have decluttered countless homes where we can immediately see the results of panic buying and the feeling of complete overwhelm that has engulfed the entire house
One of the most important things we hope clients take away from spending a session with us is that it’s fantastic you’ve decluttered, but now your mindset needs to change from lack and need (which makes you spend) to enough (which means you don’t). There’s no point in decluttering if you’re looking for an excuse to fill it all up again. Reducing the flow of items coming into your home is the message, and what better time to put this into practise than now, when a new bundle of joy is about to join your family.
Here are some of our tips to help you transition into this exciting new phase of your life!
People will want to buy you stuff
Ah the well-meaning family and friends…! When I had my daughter, it was also my mother’s first grandchild and all she wanted to do was go out and buy something. Any time she did her weekly food shop she would come back with a pack of vests and another bundle of nappies. I ended up with so many newborn nappies that I didn’t even get though them by the time my daughter grew out of them. And all the cute outfits! Little dresses, patterned tights, bloomers – you name it and my daughter had it. I then had a baby shower and was given more stuff. I felt like I couldn’t even buy the clothing I wanted to put her in because people had bought so much for her already. As difficult as it sounds, be prepared to ask for exactly what you want. Want vouchers for your baby shower so you can choose what you want to buy? Do it. A fantastic thing to ask for is food delivery vouchers; immensely useful in the first few weeks when you’re trying to hold it all together and no one wants to cook. Have a friend that makes a mean lasagne? Ask them to make you a couple to put in your freezer. You will still get the odd thing, but people want to be useful and helpful and are grateful when they can be told what to do and buy for you.
Big changes afoot
Bringing a baby into your world will most likely mean a huge lifestyle shift, and there will be lots of things you did before that you realistically won’t be able to do for a while. Take this opportunity to look at how your space is being used currently and if there are any hobby-related belongings that can be stored away in a loft/shed/garage until you have more free time in the future. This is an easy way to make space for the countless baby items that will all of a sudden be making their way into your home.
Babies will not spend their time in cute little outfits. They will leak (you will leak!) and they’ll need to be changed, possibly multiple times a day. I don’t know a single mother who hasn’t told me that their babies didn’t even wear most of the outfits they had bought. What did they wear? You guessed it, sleepsuits! It will be hard to resist completely, and I’m sure there will be times when you want to dress them up, but think consciously before you buy an excess of those adorable little outfits. As they grow older and start to move, they also won’t be able to crawl in dresses or jeans that don’t have enough stretch, for example. If you end up having events to go to, like weddings or parties, it would be nice to be able to shop for the outfit at the time, in the correct size, rather than feel you have to put them in impractical outfits just you can say they wore them.
They grow up so fast
Between 0 and 1, they will grow so quickly. Many items will only fit them for 2-3 months, so there’s no need to have tens and tens of things. You will need enough so you don’t feel like all you are doing is washing clothes, but not so many that you are overwhelmed and they end up in huge piles that you can’t face putting away.
Sort and label
It’s recommended that we wash clothes before we wear them, and that could not be more true with children’s clothes (the two things over the years that I have not washed before putting my children in them have given them rashes!). This is a perfect excuse to organise them by clothing type and size. Try not to have varying size ranges in their drawers at the same time – buy some boxes or zip-up laundry bags before your little one arrives and take the time to sort and label everything clearly. You’ll be so glad you took the time to do this in advance and you can swap them out easily as and when they grow. Decluttering as you go is always a great idea with these kinds of things, unless you are hoping for more to add to your brood. In which case, if they are sorted and labelled, it will be a breeze next time around.
Next day delivery
If you do forget something that you realise you need once the baby comes, isn’t it better that you made sure you needed it before possibly spending money on something that would not get used? The worst that can happen is that you have to wait until the next day for it to be delivered to your door. Best case scenario is that your partner/mother/friend can nip out and get it, or you’ll probably have people visiting all the time that you can ask to pick something up on their way over. Again, people want to be useful so don’t be afraid to ask. It’s a tiny baby, and the necessities are milk, cuddles and nappies. Anything else can wait for Amazon Prime.
Beware the knick-knacks!
As my children started to become more mobile I realised so many of the trinkets I’d collected over the years were becoming an issue. And cables; children REALLY like to chew on them. Take this as an opportunity to clear the excess tat and baby proof as much as you can in advance – everyone I know has had to suddenly rush around baby proofing when their little ones start to move! There are boxes you can get specifically to tidy cables away, or make your own from tutorials online. If you have bookcases, or anything for that matter on low shelves or in boxes on the floor, it WILL end up all over the floor if you don’t remove it. Save yourself a mad scramble in the future and have a baby-proofing session in advance.
If there are things you want to buy that you know your baby will only use for a short amount of time, check how popular they are and what their resale value is. Join Facebook Marketplace, have a look on EBay; this will help you see what you can expect to get for it after you no longer need it, if you can get rid of it at all. You might also discover a practically unused one for a bargain price! We find this really helps to put your purchases into perspective and might change your mind on buying absolutely everything new. Talk to people with children already! They will be happy to share what was and wasn’t worth it.
People WILL be talking about the latest pushchairs; people WILL be talking about the latest Jumperoo. What you need to decide is if you want to be a part of that or if you want to try and buy more consciously for your own needs and preferences. We all need to consume to some degree or another, but we can choose to do it in a less wasteful way that will make our everyday lives less stressful and overwhelming.
Create new habits from day one
Welcoming a new arrival is the perfect time to look at your spending and consumption habits and decide if this is what you want to pass down to the new generation. If you see objects in your home as replaceable and expendable, your children will, too. If you live with an excess of belongings far more than you need, your children will think it is normal, too. Children need space, not things, to spark their creativity and they, too, can easily become overwhlemed. A calm and uncluttered environment for child and parents alike makes for a much happier and less stressed home.
Estelle and Julia at The Clearing Concept want to help you feel happier and less stressed in your home! Decluttering and organising is their passion and they are here to help you get your home in order and free you from mess and clutter so that you can focus on the things that are really important to you.
Visit www.theclearingconcept.com for more information.
Article issued in Magazine edition July 2019