One of the first words that Intrepid Bebe could sign and then say was “more“. And life is often about just that: accumulating more=achieving more, bigger=better. I like to be prepared, and for me, part of that is having all the things I could need for a new situation or experience. A common sentiment amongst fellow premmie Parents of babies born early is; they were not at all prepared, they hadn’t bought anything, the baby had to sleep in a drawer etc etc!
As soon as we fall pregnant it seems we are bombarded with a lengthy list of must haves, essentials. Maternity Clothes, Belly rubs, reading materials. Then when you have the baby, the list gets even longer. Must haves, and ‘the secret to a happy baby’. And all the recommendations! Don’t get me wrong, I love a recommendation from someone I know and trust, and I like to suggest products to friends which I felt were really useful. But all this leads to a whole lot of stuff.
As a new Mama who was at home full time, online shopping became my best buddy, my late night feeding companion, and my quick fix. It gave me a boost to order cute little things for my darling (yet perpetually screaming) bundle of joy. And when the Post-Lady delivered (sometimes almost daily, she saw far more of my Daughter than any health Visitor in that first year), it was like a present; albeit one I had chosen and funded. It became worse as I tried to fix issues such as poor sleep, dummy/bottle refusal, teething. So many products offered miracle solutions, and I was desperate for a miracle solution. I soon had homeopathic powders for teething pain winging their way from across the globe, specially designed sleep suits from the States. Magical White noise Whales, and swaddles with supposed super powers. FYI none were the magical solution for me.
Looking back, for me, I think a lot of it was due to not feeling confident in my own capacity and abilities as a new Parent. So I outsourced,searched for quick fixes, or something external I could purchase to make it all okay.
We often used to express surprise that now we were rarely eating out, new going out, the weekend trips to Melbourne and the Coast had stopped-why was our bank account zooming South? It wouldn’t have taken much scrutiny of our bills to figure it out.
When we came to packing up our lives to move from Australia to the UK, I think we both were working on a mental inventory from before we became Parents. Neither of us had had a chance to accumulate that much stuff together. Fifteen months of Parenthood and we were contemplating if we could fill a 40foot shipping container! In the end, some sense prevailed, and we sold, donated and gifted a lot. That said, we shipped over a lot too.
In the three months we waited for our things to land on these shores, I so eagerly anticipated their arrival. However, once they did turn up, I felt swamped, so much stuff, where would it all go? What was even in those boxes? I had learnt to live happily without the bulk of it for three months (that said, i was pretty happy to be reunited with my Vitamix, Kitchen Aid and favourite cooking knives). There were certain things which had sentimental value too, which i would’ve felt very sad to leave behind. but the bulk of it was clothes I hadn’t worn in ages, toys she had forgotten about, books I’d read and would be unlikely to get a chance to reread, and about eight different sized wooden chopping boards.
Many of these boxes now reside in sheds, some ten months on, or in cases under the bed in the mental pile labeled too hard.
And yet the house still feels pretty full. We had a lot of space in Oz, and plenty of big cupboards to store it all away, out of sight out of mind. Now when I look at my daughter’s collection of toys, I often think we could stock a Nursery, and that she could have no new toys or books until she started school and still be entertained for years. And the reality is, she is still most more interested in investigating outdoors, or playing with ‘non toy’ items.
Intrepid Papa and I are planning big adventures for 2018 (more on that to come), so with that in mind I have begun working on down sizing and decluttering. That bit isn’t too tricky, as I tend to find it quite cathartic clearing space, and sending bags off to the Charity Shop. What I will find challenging is saying no to stuff. I love stuff, and whilst I’m okay with getting rid of it, I am far better at accumulating more!
There’s a lot online right now about minimalism, living with less, and saying no to stuff. It all sounds very appealing, and the arguments for it are compelling. But as a Lady who’s IG feed is never far from hand, and has trigger finger from Prime purchasing-it’s not going to be the most natural process. Yet I feel it will be really worth it, will teach me a lot about what matters, and consolidate finances, plus anything that makes packing easier has to be a win right?
I’d love to hear your experiences of stuff, downsizing, living with less, resources you recommend & especially how it works for your family.