Decluttering and Organizing in Preparation for Baby!Oct 19, 2022
They say that between the ages of six and eight is when you begin to see behaviour patterns in children related to organization. It’s a good time to assess their natural tendencies and begin to build good habits. Something that the whole family can do - and also benefit from - together! Jane Stoller from Organized Jane shares some of her tips with Dr. Alicia on how to prepare your space before the baby arrives, what to do once they’re there, and how to form good habits as they grow!
As we enter the time of evolving roles and responsibilities of pregnancy, decluttering is likely not top of mind. But it can be very helpful to consider how you can prepare your space for baby before their arrival - not only in obtaining the required necessities - but truthfully considering what is already occupying space. One way to approach this is to honestly consider hobbies or activities you may love but haven’t had the opportunity to engage in in a while. When was the last time you went kayaking - be honest! If it has been some time, chances are you will be going even less frequently when baby arrives. That isn’t to say that you’ll never be able to return to these beloved activities, but you may need to be mindful about what is realistically going to remain in your life for the upcoming few years. Once you’re ready to return to that activity, chances are also high you may want to invest in newer equipment so you may be looking to get rid of it anyway. This isn’t to say that we advocate waste and buying new things! This is a great opportunity to recycle, upcycle, and exchange things within your community.
Get the Right Gifts from Grandma!
Once baby arrives, often you only need certain items for a short period of time. Reaching out to your community, or finding mommy groups via social media or community forums, is a great way to obtain and pass on short-lived and lightly used items. Another potential threat to space is the giving of gifts. While always well intentioned, random gift giving from friends and family can cause the accumulation of duplicate and unnecessary items that can be especially difficult to rid oneself of once infused with the sentimental value of when, how, and from whom it was gifted. You may consider a registry or a more informal substitute - disseminate a list of needed items to friends and family that are likely to provide you with gifts anyway, and remember that gifts do not need to take on physical form! Truly consider what would be helpful - perhaps a few hours from a cleaning service, some prepared meals you can pop in the freezer, or a night of babysitting!
Once baby is home - set up your space for success. Often young parents spend a lot of thought and time setting up a “perfect” nursery, but don’t actually end up spending much time there. After a few days, consider where you actually spend most of your time and what would be helpful to have at hand’s reach. Perhaps you need a changing table in the living room or your bedroom where you will be doing middle of the night changes? Perhaps you need a crib or carrier closer to the kitchen where you are preparing meals or feeding baby? Also try not to set your expectations of yourself and your space too high - simplicity is key in keeping clutter to a minimum, but despite best intentions, your house may not be in its ideal state and that is okay!
What kind of Clutterbug are You?
As your baby grows (and you likely accumulate more and more things) it is key to consider creating a system for organization that is realistic and easy to maintain. Jane recommends a regularly implemented decluttering routine - going through items once a “quarter” and saving a few things that hold value, whether sentimental or practical. So for example, you save a few of baby’s newborn onesies, and regift the rest of them. Give yourself firm parameters and make time for decluttering, from ten minutes of cleaning up at the end of each day, to going over newly acquired items and storing them in an organized fashion, such as “Sammy’s Age 1 Box”. That way they’re easy to identify when you need to access those items again, whether to pass down to a younger sibling, when moving, or feeling sentimental!
As your kid gets older, you may also find yourself grappling with an increasing volume of items they bring home, such as their artwork, school projects, etc. Apply the same rule - be discerning and keep a few items from each “period,” but not all. Another great way to declutter is to save items digitally - take photos of your child’s artwork, label and save them in easily accessible folders. As for digital clutter, consider apps like Gemini Photos: Gallery Cleaner which helps you identify duplicates or near duplicates of a photo and deletes them - no more 18 blurry photos of baby’s first tooth, just the two good ones!
Keeping your space functional and organized with a new baby can feel daunting, so do your best to minimize and simplify both your space and expectations. Routine is key - create good habits in yourself and your kids by setting a regular cleaning period. Consider putting 10 minutes “on the clock” and making a game of it! Jane recommends using something like The Cube Timer to keep on track! If you’re bemoaning a small space and lack of storage, remember that a small space will naturally make you more efficient. A blessing in disguise, it makes you more keenly aware of the limitations and therefore encourages efficiency and discernment. If you do have the gift of storage space, that is likely also limited, so practicing the above can go a long way to efficiency, not over cluttering, and a simpler, lighter existence!
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