First, a confession: when it comes to the two extremes of minimalism and hoarding, I tilt strongly towards hoarding. I have a hard time throwing things away and can justify holding on to just about anything if you give me enough time.
Enter having a baby.
Suddenly, our house was not just crowded with our stuff, but this tiny human who came with so many accessories! Thanks to the generosity of friends and family, we had more than enough baby gear to see us through triplets, much less a single baby.
Which leads us to today.
Our daughter, now nine months old, has too much stuff. Not just too many clothes, although that is certainly the case, but too much furniture, too many toys and more books than we could ever possibly read to her. So despite my need to hold on to every single object just in case we ever need it again, I took on the task of paring down.
To get started, I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Kondo’s advice, while sometimes bizarre and possibly suffering from translation, boils down to this: Does it give you joy? If it “sparks joy,” keep it. Find a place for it, and continue to embrace that joy. But if it doesn’t, thank the object for its service and wish it well.
But before you can start checking for sparks of joy, first, you have to categorize all your belongings and take inventory. This to me was the biggest task. It meant getting (most of) the laundry done, getting (most of) the toys in one place and at least attempting to get all the furniture in one room.
The idea is to really see what you have so you can better decide what you can live without. Quickly, I saw the genius of this step, even at its most daunting. What single baby needs two Bumbo seats? And three variations of a swing? What about 12 pacifiers when we don’t use them at all? And let’s not even count how many onesies, receiving blankets, bibs and burp cloths were uncovered. Books were piled, categorized, and put right back where they belonged – on the shelf to hoard another day. I cannot get rid of a book, y’all. I tried.
Toys were trickier. Yes, one could argue that the stuffed Hello Kitty doll and the stuffed monkey were essentially the same toy, but their faces were different and the monkey has a rattle in its paw, so obviously they’re different and equally important. And asking a nine month old which sparked more joy proved fruitless. After all, this is the child whose favorite pastime is crunching empty water bottles. If she had her way, we’d have nothing but trash and boxes, all of which spark immense joy in her little brain.
Now, the hard part. Looking at these categories and making cuts. Sure, some were easy. Goodbye, spare Bumbo seat! See ya, vibrating sling-back chair mostly recently occupied by the cat!
Adios, pacifiers with adorable sayings on them! But those tiny newborn clothes? Yeesh. They may not spark joy but they certainly sparked nostalgia. And while Kondo may not find use in that, I can’t let them go just yet. After all, what if we have another baby? Or Eliza mysteriously shrinks? Or there’s a world-wide shortage of tiny clothes and suddenly we’re sitting on a gold mine? No? Okay. Even to my hoarding brain, I know this is insane. So I limited myself to two outfits: the one she came home in and the one she got her newborn pictures taken in. The rest are packed up and ready for new babies to love.
I may not have the Kondo method completed; after all, I still have to go through all my clothes, shoes, and horror of horrors, books, but it’s a start. And I have to admit, even the little progress I made felt good.