People say that a baby changes everything. For us, the baby stuff really changed everything.
I have already shared how overwhelmed we were. We gradually adjusted to our roles as parents, to the differences in our daily lives. We did not adjust to the stuff.
In early February, The Engineer watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. I happened to catch the ending and it seemed interesting—so I watched it, too. A little googling led me to the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge—where you try to declutter forty bags worth of stuff during the forty days of Lent. I hadn’t been diagnosed with PPD at that point, and minimalism allowed me to scapegoat the way I was feeling—clearly we just had too much stuff, that’s why I was unhappy. If I got rid of it, I’d feel better.
We did have too much stuff. Getting rid of some of it did make me feel better. I also had PPD, and that wasn’t going away no matter how many bags I donated to St. Vincent De Paul.
Still, decluttering was the first step on our journey towards a more intentional life. Minimalist, essentialist, whatever label you prefer. We wanted our lives to better reflect our priorities, period.
And oh, the baby stuff!
So much of it was entirely unnecessary, or not needed until much, much later. The Engineer assembled our high chair the May day we got it—Little Darcy sat in it for the first time in December. In the interim I dusted it and The Engineer vacuumed around it.
Caring for the baby stuff was getting in the way of caring for the baby.
Our first tiny step was putting currently-unused baby stuff in the basement. Suddenly our living room looked like a living room, and not an episode of John and Kate Plus 8.
I followed the 40 Bags challenge for awhile but lost count. I didn’t really care about the amount of stuff I kept or got rid of—my goal was to surround our family with items that added value to our lives. Plus I tend to be a stickler about rules and what the heck counts as a “bag” anyways?? Grocery bag, duffel bag?? What about when we get rid of furniture??
I’m not sure we’re “true” minimalists yet, at least in terms of the stuff. We definitely haven’t gotten rid of 90% of our belongings. We own way more than 100 items (like thousands more. We do still have a toddler and two sets of incredibly-generous, first-time grandparents.)
Real minimalists or not, we are happier, more content. Learning to be more intentional with our resources and time. The influx of baby stuff was the catalyst we needed to recognize how much crap we were accruing.
Our sweet baby did change everything. And we’re so, so grateful for Little Darcy and the family life we’re creating, with less “stuff” and more room for one another.