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All That Baby Stuff!: Good Enough Moms

Q: I don't know what to do with all of my daughter's baby things. She is two years old and has more toys that she no longer plays with and more clothes that she no longer fits in than we have space for. I plan to have another child in a year or two, but am overwhelmed with all of this stuff. I am trying to keep my house organized (for my sanity) and am having a great challenge in doing this. What can I do with all this stuff between now and when I need it again?

Erin: Boy, can I relate! I wish there were a secret storage room in my house for all of the things that come with having children. I held on to a lot of my daughter's clothes, just in case, and then I ended up having a boy. I'll admit that in a pinch he occasionally sleeps in pink pajamas, but for the most part I haven't touched any of my daughter's baby/toddler clothes. As she grows bigger, the stack of unused items grows bigger too. One thing I have done that has worked well is to buy very large plastic bins and a label maker. I put all of the clothes she has outgrown in these bins and label them according to size. For example, we had so much stuff (hand-me-downs for the most part) for newborn to six-months that we filled an entire 18-inch by 30-inch bin that I labeled "0-6 month girl." I now have this at the bottom of a stack of bins in the back of my daughter's closet. However, as she continues to grow out of things and we fill more bins, we are running out of space. The bins will eventually be moved to the basement (or given away if I can finally make a decision about having or not having more children).

Grandma Betty: If she wants to have more children she should hang on to everything. Clothes and toys are expensive and it would be wasteful to get rid of them. However, they say if you get rid of them you're going to get pregnant! So if you're having any trouble getting pregnant, get rid of them and you'll probably end up pregnant again!

Marti: What can I possibly add to those tips? I'm just picturing the countless families and children who have so little and the big smiles on their faces when you eventually decide to share your riches with others. (You too, Erin!) And yes, I also told my kids to clean their plates because of the starving children in Africa!

All: This is a challenge we all three have faced in our own homes, regardless of how many kids we have and whether or not they're still living at home. (Marti is still trying to get rid of some of her kids' stuff, and they're in the 30s!) Dealing with all of our stuff is an on-going process. But we find that staying on top of the clutter and keeping organized helps us feel less stressed and gives us more time to focus on what's important to us! And, of course, all those nice clothes and toys are a welcome gift when you finally do decide to pass them along to someone who needs them.

Marti Erickson, Ph.D., is a developmental psychologist and director of the Harris Training Programs at the University of Minnesota. A well-known public speaker, writer, and media commentator, Marti also is the mother of two adult kids and three young grandchildren.

Erin Erickson Garner, Marti's daughter, is a writer and a specialist in maternal and child health. She currently is home with her two young children except for Sundays, when she and her mom co-host the Good Enough MomsTM radio show on WFMP-Radio, FM107.1 in the Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Betty Farrell, Marti's mom, lives in Houston, TX, and is known fondly as "Grandma Betty" to Erin and her kids.

Categories: Advice, Ideas & Stories, MomShare,

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