This happy addition comes with stuff. Then generates more stuff.

Last weekend I went to a baby shower for friends expecting their first. It was a lovely opportunity to meet the community of friends and family that surround this couple. We were there to offer support and advice for this next big step in life— parenthood! For those who are already a part of this club you know that once that baby comes life changes, much more dramatically than ever expected. You know the need to make room for baby.

I remember. I thought I had it covered.

We had lots of baby clothes, blankets, gear and furniture. There were some extra meals in the freezer, we had all the books. However, in some ways I was completely blindsided. I hadn’t thought about all the stuff that this lovely child was going to introduce to my home and life, or how to manage it.

There’s the transportation, bathing, diaper changing, entertainment and safety equipment you believe you must need. There’s clothes and sleepwear, plus all the gifts and hand-me-downs. When they start eating solid food the kitchen stuff is mind-boggling. Then baby’s first major holiday and birthdays… the toys are endless. While we’re all blessed to have such things and caring gifters, it can completely overwhelm our space. Babies grow so fast: they are out of one set of clothes or past a developmental stage in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, you are stuffing clothes you never used in a closet next to toys you forgot you had.

I had no concept of the deluge this would be or how much time and energy I would spend sorting and managing all this stuff. I know my experience is not unique. Parents are so busy caring for their children and meeting other commitments that they have no time to clear it all out. Some of it may end up in bags or boxes, but getting it out of the home seems to pose a big challenge.

The root problem is already there.

Babies often enter people’s lives when their schedules and closets are already packed. This pushes parents into stressful circumstances because they have to find space for baby. Time is carved out for babies, because their survival depends on it, but often little is done about the stuff. It’s the less obvious problem and so it builds up and up. Moving during pregnancy can be a drastic solution but very common.

Then, add a perpetual stuff generator.

For most people, living in a space overwhelmed with stuff becomes very stressful. The more stuff we have the more time we spend organizing and managing that stuff, and looking for things we can’t find, because it becomes lost in all that stuff.

Stuff eats up time as well as space— which is particularly challenging for parents already struggling to create the time to care and enjoy their darling child.

How can you get in front of this?

Declutter thoroughly before baby arrives and make a plan to manage all their stuff.

  • Talk to your partner or other household members about the need to declutter, enlist their help and/or support.
  • Add decluttering to your list of things to do or make a decluttering service an item on the baby registry.
  • Plan where you will store baby stuff in use and where you will stash things like outgrown clothing.
  • Have boxes or bags ready in those places to collect it.
  • Do some recon before baby comes or at early mom groups on what to do with it all when the bags/boxes get full.

Babies start out with lots of stuff and as they grow older they will attract more stuff: birthday gifts, holiday gifts, loot bags, art projects and all sorts of oddball objects they find and collect. Be prepared. Next up for new parents: Shopping at Costco.

If you already have kids and are feeling overwhelmed with stuff, it’s not too late. Gift yourself some decluttering support. It will give you more time and space as well as a number of additional hidden benefits of decluttering.

You could help expectant parents get ahead of the curve by sharing your wisdom. Take it a step further and gift them decluttering help so they have more space for their new child.