Shopping for baby clutter

Jason once told me, “My shopping skills are totally wasted on you.” What he meant was that he is capable of contributing meaningful comments like, “I like how that one fits around the waist, but I like how the color of the last one matched your skin tone,” while patiently seated in the armchair next to the dressing room.  But this skill of his is never put to use.  Because I don’t like shopping.

I blame my mother.  She is the oldest of 12 children.  My grandma was a stay-at-home mom, and my grandpa was a cop.  They were not rich.  At age 18 she took a vow of poverty and donned the nun’s habit.  Shopping was a lost cause by the time she left the convent at age 36.  And so this traditionally feminine art was never passed down to me.

Occasionally I have gone shopping with friends.  To be social.  And with the right friends it can be enjoyable.  But usually I find it uncomfortable.  I mostly trail behind my companion like a puppy dog, focusing on our conversation, until I remember that I’m supposed to be looking at stuff.  I strategically time trips away from my friend and thumb through hangers or piles or bins awkwardly.  So as to appear like I’m into the whole “shopping thing.”

Now I will say that I’ve grown to like shopping more as my income has increased over the years.  I think this is because I tend to shop like a boy.  I don’t shop until I need something.  And when I do shop I prefer to do so in clean, well organized stores.  So as to find what I’m looking for as quickly as possible.  And that tends to cost more.  If I ever grow to be ridiculously rich the first member of my “staff” will be a personal shopper.

But it doesn’t stop there.  I also do not like acquiring things I don’t want and won’t use.  I don’t like them taking up otherwise neat and organized space in my house.  It seems like there’s a constant influx of trinkets being handed out (at work especially).  A pen with a big plastic flag on the end, a glow stick for Halloween, a calendar, yet another pair of safety gloves.

I LOVE getting rid of these things.  Almost more than I like getting new things.  My mom went through this big feng shui, clutter clearing kick a few years back so I feel like I can blame this on her as well. (Sorry Mom.)  And that’s kind of remarkable considering that the house I grew up in never really had a lot of clutter to begin with.

Just this weekend I started cleaning out our kitchen in order to create a little space for things like baby bottles.  And found myself having this conversation with Jason about a wedding present we hadn’t registered for but received anyway…

Me: Is it okay if I get rid of this?
Jason: Uh…I don’t know…
Me: We’ve never used it.
Jason: It’s just really nice.
Me: I know.  But we’ve never used it.
Jason: Okay.

We also went to IKEA to pick up the makings for some shelves we’re (i.e. Jason is) going to install in our bathroom.  Also on the list was a $3 motion-sensing night light for the baby’s room.  Here’s how that conversation went.

Jason: Why don’t we get two?
Me: Why do we need two?
Jason: I don’t know.  It might be nice to have another one.
Me: Where would we put it?
Jason: I don’t know.  We could put it in the hall or…
Me: Let’s just get one.  We only really need one.
Jason: Okay.

My point here is not to say that Jason is a hoarder.  Because he’s not at all.  He’s actually quite alike me in the business of acquiring things. Nor is it to highlight how agreeable he can be.  Even though he can be.  (One of the many reasons I love him.)

All of this is building up to what I really want to say.  Which is that minimally preparing for a new baby is really freaking difficult.  All along I have been very clear about wanting to buy only the essentials ahead of time.  Mostly because of my personality, but also because we have a very minimal amount of already filled storage space in our house.  If we find we absolutely need a rose-scented diaper wipe warmer down the road I figure we can get one then.  For half price off Craigslist.  And Jason has been right on-board.

But I suppose not everyone in our circle of family and friends knows this.  And so we are acquiring…(sigh)…gifts.  Some gifts that we wanted.  Some homemade gifts that I absolutely love.  And some that we didn’t ask for.  Some fairly (geometrically) large gifts.  Things that others felt we couldn’t live without.  Things that I would have preferred to wait and see about.

And I feel so helpless.  Like I won’t be able to carve out enough room for it all in time.  Like the baby industry marketing machine has been shoved down my throat.  Like I don’t get a say in how we begin our parenting journey (this part of it anyway).  I feel angry when I have to write a thank you note for something I already want to get rid of and guilty that I’m not more appreciative.

And I feel like a bad blogger for writing such an absurdly long, Debbie Downer of a post.  Is there anyone out there that can at all relate? Forget about relating.  Did anyone actually read this whole thing?

25 thoughts on “Shopping for baby clutter

  1. I read the whole post and I relate! About the shopping thing particularly – retail therapy makes no sense to me.The baby industry does seem to define the must-haves for new parents. I don’t have any words of wisdom on how to cope. But maybe it helps to know you’re not alone?

  2. I hate to shop, too. Especially since I usually have to do it with toddler-in-tow. Takes the joy right out of it. And I tend to buy clothes only at thrift stores. Bringing the kid is a nightmare.

  3. I read it! And can totally relate! We are a culture of people who just like lots of crap. Plain and simple. And when you don’t fit into that, it’s hard, especially when people are giving you things out of the goodness of their hearts. I don’t envy you this one, and I totally respect your desire to do this whole thing as simply as possible. Good luck with it!

    • Thanks for that! And you’re right. People really do just want to help and be a part of the whole experience. Everything really is given with the best of intentions. I think that’s what makes it tough.

  4. I completely relate to this. Growing up, I loved stuff. When I got a place of my own, I realized I hate stuff. I’ve never really liked shopping at all, even in my days when I still loved stuff. When I go shopping, I’m ready to go home in like 5 minutes. My husband doesn’t understand why I have no desire to go look at clothes while he is looking. He tends to be a saver and a buy 2 of everything kind of person, especially when it comes to clothes and tools! His side of the family is very into gifts. I know they mean well by it and try to be appreciative. The year I requested they donate to some organization instead of buying me a Christmas gift, I think I came off as a snob and that wasn’t my intention!

    • Donations to an organization sound like such a good idea to me! It’s such a better use of someone’s money than a gift you don’t want. I don’t think that comes off as snobby at all!

  5. I relate to keeping things simple. We are in the process of unloading a ton of stuff. When we moved in together we had two of everything. Two years later we are still trying to scale back. His and Hers irons? Yeah, we are that couple; they even match.

    I am a shopper, I love it. With that said, this morning I became guilty of sending an unnecessary, not asked for gift, that I think is a must need. (although, i dont have a baby, so how would i know what is a must need?!) Baby Nike runners?! Um, they go with the jogging stroller! 🙂

    Besides, if you regift, donate, whatever, it wont hurt my feelings because chances are I am getting rid of something someone gave me too.

    Can’t wait to see pictures of this baby’s beautiful face!

    • Oh my gosh! I almost didn’t post this because I was afraid I was going to make someone feel bad for sending a gift. That certainly wasn’t my intention!

      As it turns out I ABSOLUTELY NEED baby Nike runners! Ha! Truthfully, it’s the really large (in size) gifts that are bothering me because I don’t have anywhere to put them. As long as you didn’t send a trampoline we should be good. 😉

      We had his and hers irons for awhile too! Ha! We only have one now so I must have gotten rid of the other one at some point.

      • You didnt make me feel bad for sending a gift, it was just funny timing. Plus, I would still send you a gift even if you said “Katie, we wont be friends if you send this.” 🙂 I feel its my job to start this little girl on the Nike brand, especially the Nike running brand, early.

        I wont send a trampoline, but how about a treadmill?

  6. The worst thing about babies and children is the large items. It’s very frustrating to try and clean your living room and make it look organized when there’s a baby swing right in the middle of it. And trust me, it only gets worse as they get older and they toys get bigger. (Like the trampoline in our back yard.)

    Also, may I PLEASE be that member of your “staff” that does your personal shopping?!?

    • Yeah, I was just telling Jason the other night how I’m afraid of all the toys in our future! And as soon as I become ridiculously rich I will totally hire you! Don’t hold your breath though…

  7. I have a LOT of baby stuff, but even *I* feel like people get all caught up in what the baby industry is selling. Wipes warmers, baby bathtubs (what’s wrong with the sink?) a drying rack just for bottles- there’s just so much STUFF. Lots of people were amazed (and appalled) by the fact that we never bought a changing table. (I have never been sorry about that choice.) I definitely lean toward the- wait until we need something THEN buy it camp.

    • So this is totally reassuring. We didn’t buy a baby bathtub or a changing table either (or a wipe warmer or a drying rack for that matter). Hopefully nobody reads this and decides we need one of these things…

      • Let me just say, we got a baby bathtub as a gift and I love it! It is big and bulky, but from 1 month to about 9 months it’s awesome! Also, we didn’t have a changing table for a long time and I was ok without one, but we found one on clearance for $12 and I love it! It’s so much easier to have the baby on your level than getting on the floor every time. Plus it’s tons of storage. We got a wipe warmer for free and it’s definitely not a necessity. And I’ve never had a bottle drying rack. Just sayin’ if you get those other things as gifts, don’t return them. 🙂

      • So I should say that even though we didn’t get a changing table, we did get a changing pad that we’re putting on top of a dresser we got. So we kind of have a changing table.

  8. I admire your skill in not acquiring lots of crap as well as the ability to purge said crap. Not an easy task for many. I tend to first get my eye on something online rather than just aimlessly shop. Could still use better decluttering skills though.

  9. As I was reading this I was thinking “Wait! People are going to give you all this baby crap you don’t want!” And there it was. My best friend in NYC has a 9 month old, but I ask her if I can buy him things. She has a small house and he is already showered with gifts.

    I love getting rid of things too. But I also love shopping with one particular girlfriend who has great fashion sense!

  10. I did! And I feel you. I’ve always told my husband that if we ever have kids, me and his mother will have it out. She spoils the living crap out of all of her grandkids (there are three–two are grown now, so the one kid left is getting it all now) ABSOLUTELY ROTTEN. There is so much STUFF that it’s ridiculous. Don’t feel guilty. Return it if you can! 🙂 If not, sell it on Craigslist for half price! lol

  11. I hear you! We have managed to acquire STUFF over the years, lots were gifts or hand me downs. We have gotten rid of a lot of stuff too! the changing table, wipe warmer, the bassinet, the baby bathtub… all gone and useless! Keep it simple! Good luck with well meaning friends and family, but the less stuff the better. I have also found that the fewer toys my older girls have the more meaningful play they have with the toys they do have. Don’t even get me started on stuffed animals, they are the WORST gift! Once in a while, fine and cute, but every holiday or just for random reasons?? they drive me nuts! I have a trash bag full that gets put out for garage sales every year then taken to Goodwill, who need that many stuffed animals!!! Although I LOVE handmade gifts!!! Even if it is a stuffed animal! I would be interested to know the baby gear that makes your short list!

    • Sarah! Thanks for stopping by the blog! I know I don’t have kids yet, but I feel like I’m already in agreement about the toys. It seems like the kids with a gazillion toys don’t learn to appreciate or take care of them.

      And I am totally loving the handmade gifts too! I’m actually working on another post about a couple of the awesome handmade stuff we got. Trying to balance out this post a little!

  12. I did read the whole thing! I might be a bad blogger and blog reader lately, but when I do read the posts, I read them in their entirety. I can’t relate to the whole baby, baby shopping, baby presents situation, but I can certainly relate to the hate shopping situation. I hate shopping, the crowds and I have no idea where this entire idea that it’s fun and I’m supposed to like it ever came from. Can somebody somehow make some new stuff I am in desperate need of appear at my house without me having to venture in the mall jungle?

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