Have you ever seen those reality show about hoarders who live, buried in their own stuff? You know how they clear out all their junk and force them to live in their homes with a bare minimum of possessions? Well, I've had apartments that looked kind of like that. Call me a minimalist or an anti-hoarder, but I just don't like having a lot of "stuff". If it doesn't serve a purpose, then I don't really want it. It probably helps that I'm not terribly sentimental.
When I moved across the country a few years ago, I sold, donated or gave away most of my belongings and brought with me only what could I could carry onto the plane. After getting settled in, my mother sent me two boxes of kitchen implements, but was it. When I relocated again 6 months later, the move was obviously pretty easy. After arriving here, in the city where I've been for the last 3+ years, I had a bed, a couch and some personal belongings, like dishes and books, shipped from my parents' house. This experience has taught me that I really don't need much to live and be happy, and I actually prefer to know that I'm not tied down my a bunch of material goods.
Fast-forward to today, and I'm facing the reality that I'm about to be tied down considerably--by a whole person. And that little person will have clothes and toys and gear all of his own. So how to balance impending parenthood with my need keep life simple and clutter-free?
Living in a 1BR + den, keeping clutter to a minimum isn't just desirable, it's a necessity. The following are some of the strategies I'm using to stay true to my minimalist self, while still being realistic about having a baby.
1. Rid myself of all non-essentials before baby arrives
As I get bigger and less clothes fit, I've been discarding clothes I haven't worn for awhile and putting into storage clothes that are either out of season or that I intend to wear after the baby arrives. Either way they are out of the way. I'm also going through all of my books. Any books that I will likely never read again will be given away or brought to a used book store. This should clear up a lot of clutter as I don't reread novels or reference books that were not helpful on the first read.
2. Be direct with family members about what we do and do not have room for
Early on, Alex and I sat down and made a wish list on amazon.ca. It's like a registry of registries, and can include items from any store that has an online presence. It helps to keep us organized about what we think we need/want and is a handy aid for generous family and friends. We have also tried to quell the grandmothers' desire to shower the baby with clothes and toys, and also to discourage them to send us our old toys that they "just can't bear to throw out". Haven't been terribly successful on that front, which leads me to my next strategy...
3. Locate organizations/programs who will accept our surplus clothes and toys
We have already started a collection of items (all from the grandmothers) that we will donate if we can/throw out if we must. We regularly take advantage of the Diabetes Society's Clothesline program to discard unwanted clothing and household items, and we will do the same with gently used baby clothes and toys. I might find a more appropriate organization for baby items as time goes by, but as long as I'm keeping these items out of my home (and hopefully out of a landfill) I'm happy.