My husband and I recently started cleaning out our home. At five months pregnant, I am deep in nesting mode and want any surplus storage gone. Adding a new family member has brought up a lot of questions about how we want to live our lives. While we can not claim to be minimalists, the movement appeals to both of us. We want our lives, and the lives of our children, to be full of more experiences, and less stuff.
Unfortunately, when it comes to having a baby, stuff is part of the deal.
So what is a budding minimalist to do when adding a new family member? Follow these guidelines to help you omit needless things.
Consider Which Products Make Sense for your Unique Circumstances
There are entire books dedicated to weighing different brands of baby supplies against each other. But, what if you are trying to avoid buying products in the first place? Before you find yourself absorbed in the debate between baby food makers, take a step back. Could your existing food processor do just as good a job making baby food?
I recently purchased a “pack-n-play”, or portable playard. As a couple who loves weekends away, we both agreed we would use the travel solution, and that it could double as an alternate nap location. But when I started my research I was overwhelmed with extra options.
One of the most popular pack-n-play accessories is an attachable changing table. This might be useful if you keep it set up downstairs, and your primary changing table is located upstairs. But in my home, the bedrooms are all on the ground floor. Using similar logic I was able to rule out a need for any of the available accessories. I ordered the base model pack-n-play, and breathed a sigh of relief.
Just as not every home is the same, neither is outfitting homes for the arrival of a baby. Adding a new family member to your living situation will be unique to your circumstances. (You may also be interested in our series on “Baby Essentials that Aren’t,” starting here.)
Create a Registry and Use it as Your Shopping List
A baby registry isn’t just for friends who want to shower you with gifts. It can also serve as a shopping list for yourself and your partner. It’s easy to fall victim to retail sales and local resale sites when it comes to baby gear. If it’s 75% off the list price you should buy it, right? Wrong.
Be thorough when planning your registry so it includes everything you will need for the first year of your baby’s life. This will take some research. I find the Lucie’s List “Baby Registry Basics” guide to be a helpful starting point for anyone adding a new family member.
I took the recommendations, and pared them down based on my own needs. Now that our registry is complete we have a rule that if an item does not appear there, we won’t buy it. Even if it is on sale.
Don’t be Shy with the Registry, Share it!
I know, I know. It is uncomfortable to push your registry on people. I mean, talk about being gift grabby, right? In traditional etiquette, a registry is considered “pull” information, meaning the details of where to find your registry should only be supplied when asked for. This makes sense to me, so I’m definitely not advocating registry advertising.
But if you’re having a shower, include your registry information on the invitation. If your guests are planning to buy a gift, they will appreciate help in knowing where to start. In turn, you will appreciate receiving the gifts you actually need.
Still feeling icky? Do what we did and keep your registry on the backside of the invite. The information was there for those who wanted it, but it wasn’t pushed in anyone’s face. As cheesy as it sounds, presence remained the greatest present… and it didn’t add extra stuff to our space!
Don’t be Afraid to Return Gifts
People are going to buy you gifts you did not register for. Sometimes these gifts will be things you now realize you cannot live without. Other times they will be meaningful handmade items or heirlooms. Unfortunately, you will also receive things you do not need. These gifts add clutter to your home.
Thank the giver. Be genuine in your appreciation for their support of you adding a new family member. Then, return the gift, and use the credit towards something that will serve you.
Does this make you uncomfortable? In “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo says the gift already served its purpose during the act of giving. It brought the giver joy to give you the gift, and you in turn felt joy receiving it. If returning an item feels unsettling, consider donating it to a local women’s shelter instead.
Remember, adding a new family member means adding more stuff to your life. Being smart about which products you introduce to your home is key. Minimalism is a journey. Having kids may be a bump in the road, but it doesn’t have to derail you.