Bringing home a newborn means your days are now jam packed—as is your house. Many new parents crave simplicity after the upset of adding a tiny person (and their not-so-tiny things) to their living space. The minimalist movement is one way to uncomplicated your life—but it’s not one-size-fits-all. You have to make it work for your family.
Kelley Fincher of Zero Waste Mommy says that while it may not be possible to cloth diaper your newborn or produce a miniscule amount of garbage, you can stop and consider what you’re bringing into your life and strive to make better choices. After all, it’s good for the environment, will give you more peace of mind about your daily habits, can help you save money, and may inspire some creativity in your children in the long run. What’s more, professional organizer and author of the international bestseller “ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World” Evan Michael Zislis says that it can be as simple as becoming a snob about your stuff. Meaning, be really, really picky about what you bring inside. Here are their best tips for how to become one with your inner minimalist.
Pick one thing that bugs you—like say that overflowing diaper bag—and try “minimalizing” it, Kelley says. That means remove everything from the bag and really consider what to put back in. Have you used it in the last week? Is it a must-have item in case of emergency? Or is it just a third backup binky? After a week, see how you feel. If you like it (which you probably will), try to minimalize something else. As Kelley says, it’s addicting. Then start questioning what you bring into your house. Look at each gift and hand-me-down you receive and ask whether it’s something you love and want taking up space in your home. Because what people don’t tell you is that every new baby comes with a barrage of stuff your friends are dying to get rid of from their own kids.
OWN ONLY WHAT YOU LOVE
Evan suggests getting rid of things you already have, but are taking up too much space—either physical or emotional space. Get super picky about everything from your baby’s onesies and blankets to your own bedsheets and underwear. The idea is to have as few things as possible while still functioning happily. That may mean getting the best quality stuff you can afford, because the pricier stuff is often more durable. “We don’t mind paying a bit more for things we love and will last a really long time (often with a lifetime guarantee), especially if we trust that the people were paid fairly, materials were recycled, and places weren’t trashed in the process,” Evan says. Having fewer things that are special to you can help you (and your kids) better appreciate your belongings, which means you’ll take better care of them as well.
UNCLUTTER THE KITCHEN
This is where so many unused things in our homes go to die. The ice cream maker you got for your wedding that’s still in the box? Four colanders? That grater thing you never remember you own until after the potatoes are peeled? Specialty items you only use once in a blue moon (or haven’t ever used), get rid of them. Hanging onto that stuff in the hope “you’ll use it one day” is a waste of space and a strain on your minimalist mentality. Plus, does junior really need ten different spoons for slurping purees? Keep what you need to get through a day or two and then ditch the rest.
BORROW, THEN REGIFT
You know all that “blink and it’s obsolete” baby gear new mom’s put on their registries? Why buy all of it when you can borrow from friends, family, and neighbors? You’ll feel less encumbered in the end, Evan says. This goes for furniture, toys, books, clothes, everything. Babies don’t know that their favorite toy is secondhand or their cutest shoes are hand-me-downs.
Kelley says this is especially the case when it comes to nursery goods and baby threads. Find someone with a crib their child’s outgrown or a Pack ‘n’ Play that can pull triple-duty as a bassinet, a crib, and a play area. And you don’t need to buy a changing table—you can strap a changing pad to any regular dresser top without adding another piece of furniture. Then when the stuff isn’t useful for you, pass the things along to another family or donate them.
DO REGULAR CLEAN-OUTS
Plan to go through your baby and house stuff at least twice a year and toss, consign, gift, or recycle anything you don’t use regularly or doesn’t fit the image of your ideal living space with children. Evan suggests birthday parties and holidays as good times to purge and give your home more breathing room. In the end, you and your kids will value your things much more when you realize you need less.
KEEP THE FUTURE IN MIND
Instilling some minimalist ideals in your little one can start early. “Teach your kids that just because it’s for sale, on sale, or available as a freebie doesn’t mean we want it, need it, or like it,” Evan says. And as they get older, demonstrate restraint by setting the example that not every shopping trip needs to turn into a spree. Talk to them about how you may want something, but don’t need it now so you’ll skip it. This can help teach your kids to avoid giving into the “gimmes” as they grow.