Babies don’t have to be expensive. They don’t require a lot of stuff. Except…they definitely are and they kind of do.
There are myriad ways to cut costs when it comes to child rearing. But there’s no denying the breathtaking burden of childcare and college tuition.
It’s easier to combat clutter that college costs, but kids do require things. Not only are books, puzzles, and toys helpful developmental tools (and sanity savers for grown ups!), other things are necessary too. Why? They grow like weeds. Kids. Need. Clothes. And. Shoes.
While it sometimes feels like there’s an avalanche of stuff around every corner, I’m realizing that it’s getting easier and easier to take a less-is-more approach when it comes to parenting a toddler. Less stuff that is. This approach buys us more time together, which is exactly what we want.
Now that our son is a little older, here are three more things my toddler taught me about minimalism.
1. New isn’t necessary.
The other day, I was talking with a group of parents. Truthfully, I was bragging. Specifically, I shared news of a freebie that HP scored from our library. They were shocked…but not in the way I intended.
Apparently, we had been enjoying ourselves at The Old Mall. It’s true that the architecture of the mall has a late 80s feel to it, but there’s new tile and a lovely atrium. Plus–and I can’t stress this enough–there are fun, free things to do!
If I take my Free Goggles (like Beer Goggles for us Frugal Folk) off, I can absolutely see what they mean. The climbing center has some chips and gouges in it. However, nothing is unsafe, and the giant sign by it proclaims that it is sanitized three times a day. And it’s free. Sold! ::puts Free Goggles back on::
We want the best for our children. And we hear from society and ourselves that new is best. It’s clean, it’s safe, it’s going to capture their imaginations, introduce them to STEM, and catapult them into success later in life. Some of that is a marketing ploy, but I actually understand this buy-new impulse.
However, decluttering our house means being really careful about what we allow into our homes. It also means resisting the urge to buy again and again. Crayons get nubby. Marker tips get smashed. Clothes get stained, my word do they get stained. Peppa Pig looks a little worse for the wear after shooting her down the Hot Wheels ramp 93484373125215 times a day.
Prior to doing a lot of this decluttering work, I would have re-bought all of those things. I would have struggled with accepting hand-me-downs. But now I realize that new isn’t necessary. I’m not even sure it’s noticed by our son.
RELATED POST: Should I Feel Guilty for Accepting Hand-Me-Downs?
2. Sometimes, You Buy Things.
One of the most vital parts of decluttering and minimalism that almost never gets discussed is this truth: sometimes, you buy things.
As someone who simply and positively has too much stuff, the one in, one out rule doesn’t work for us. When something comes into our home, multiple things need to leave. It is a must.
Additionally, we try to run through a list of possibilities before buying:
- Accept hand-me-downs
- Repurpose other items
- Swap with friends and family
- Make do without
But the reality is that sometimes people (like us!) need to purchase things. Whether you’re buying something new or purchasing it second-hand (your wallet and our world thank you!), that’s OK. It’s not indulgent. It’s not going to under your hard work.
Sometimes, you put hand-me-down 2T winter pajamas on your two-year-old only to realize they look like the pedal pusher pants your nana used to wear. And then you buy new pajamas.
RELATED POST: Everything I Tried to Buy My Son in the Past 24 Hours
3. Clutter keeps away calm.
Z is for zebra, z is for zipper, but z is definitely not for zen. Our lives were a lot calmer sans baby. There’s no way to sugar coat that.
Our son is sweet, kind, and polite. Even when he’s throwing a tantrum in the middle of the park, shrieking about being too short to play basketball, he least remembers to say please. “Please get big boy! Please basketball. Please!”
The most well-mannered crybaby there ever was.
While I don’t know the remedy that would invite total calm into our lives, I do know that decluttering helps significantly. When there are too many things, there’s too much overwhelm. Without a clear focus, it’s hard to stay committed to a task.
Oh, decluttering helps my toddler stay calm, too. 😉
Poorly timed Internet jokes aside, the Venn diagram of how clutter impacts my sense of calm and how it impacts my toddler’s is nearly a perfect circle. When humans are overwhelmed with choice and suffer from sensory overload, there’s no room for calm. It’s simply chaos.
By only allowing a few toys into our living space at a time, there’s play, there’s purpose, and there’s usually a sense of calm. Until HP realizes he’s not going to be able to dunk anytime soon.
Final Thoughts on Toddlers and Minimalism
I don’t have the perfect solution to balancing life with a toddler and decluttering. In all honesty, I don’t think a perfect solution exists.
But I do know that having a toddler doesn’t mean that clutter needs to take over. If I fight the impulse to add, I can see real benefits to having less.
And also? No guilt for those moments when you realize you do have to buy something. That’s part of the decluttering process too.
So Tell Me…How do you deal with stuff and your family?