Dealing with household clutter when you have a new family member

Isn’t it amazing how quickly a house can fill up with stuff? We do our best to try to streamline and clear out the non-essentials, otherwise our house would be bursting at the seams.

Any advice on how to keep clutter under control when you start a family? Our firstborn is due to arrive any day now.

Our nursery is set up and we have built-in shelves and cabinets to hold the toys that inevitably will arrive when our family and friends shower our firstborn with gifts. We hope to keep this from getting out of hand because we’ve seen in the homes of our friends and family how their children’s rooms are overflowing with an excess of stuff. It’s not easy to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. Plus, there’s dealing with the child not wanting to part with any of it.

How do you folks handle it?

Give lots of stuff away!

Seriously. You just know other people having children or have a local charity you would like to support. If not, find one. Shelters that help homeless families or domestic violence are good ones. Give as much baby stuff away as you can. Go through her stuff frequently and give it away.

Around here there are also children consignment shops. You can bring old toys and clothes and they give you money or store credit for new purchases. However, they don’t give you very much so I have always prefered just to donate.

Yes indeed.

Give it away. Attachment is suffering. You’ll be amazed how little of that stuff you really need.

RULE #1: Stop making storage space, stop thinking about where to store stuff!

Reality: Start thinking about how to get rid of stuff.

Also, it fascinates me when garages are stuffed with $175 of near worthless crap while $50,000 worth of automobiles rot in the driveway.

Depends. Are you planning on having more kids later on? If so, periodically go through and box up the stuff you want to keep, and get rid of the clothes/toys you don’t want to hang to for the next one. If you are a natural streamliner, this will be pretty easy, I think, since I am the world’s most cluttered person (bar mr. genie, that is) and have no qualms about the job. Keep in mind that virtually no one will buy you presents or clothes next time, so you’ll have to buy it if you want it.

If you aren’t having more kids, then get rid of everything except for your very very favorite items. Your kid will think it’s neat that you saved a few things, and may dress his/her own kid in them. (My kid wears stuff I wore, mainly the things that were hand-sewn or knitted.)

Good luck. It ain’t all that hard, really.

–genie, whose 2nd kid is due in six weeks. Haven’t had to spend anything on clothes or items, but have just entered the “almost here and the house is a mess” stage. Just finished scrubbing out the runners for the sliding glass doors.

Don’t laugh but I follow a system that you can find out about here:

FLYlady has something like 100,000 members, and you’ll hear about it on almost any parenting community you go to. It’s majorly helped me declutter and be organized after my daughter was born 6 months ago, and some moms I know say that it has truly changed their lives. YMMV


Dammit, Twiddle, I was going to suggest FlyLady!

I’ve signed up for the tips, but I keep getting unsuscribed. I’m going to try again for the digest version.

I find it helps me a lot to find a donation site I really believe in. Our local battered women’s shelter always needs baby gear. I know anything I take there will be snapped up and used right away, by a woman who is taking steps to escape a bad situation and make a better life for her children. That makes me feel good about giving it away, instead of fretting over how much it cost me or how much I could get for it on ebay or whether I should have a garage sale.

As your child grows, you might find it useful to rotate toys. That is, put some toys away and bring them out when the current batch seems to be boring the child. Much better than buying new ones.

These are excellent suggestions. Thanks, people. I appreciate you taking the time to post your advice.

ivylass I get the digest and find it a lot easier to manage. I wonder if there are any other FLYers here…

Sorry, I’ll quit hijacking this thread now.


Genie, pretty much covered what I was going to say.

May I offer a suggestion if it is available to you:

First, turn a room or the basement into the designated toy area, if ou have the space. Someplace you can close the door on the mess and leave it there and your chances of having a toy-mess stroke have just dropped by 70%.

Our’s is our basement. 90% of the toys are there. No toys are allowed in the living room overnight, they must be put away. I’m not saying my children comply like zombies, oh I wish.

With this basement is a storage area that is Christmas stuff/sports stuff and the rest is toy’s. It is a lockable room.
( Four feet wide/ 35 feet long/no heat.) We do not allow the kids free access into it. If they want something out, another toy has to be picked up and put into it.

The playroom is usually a disaster, but limiting them to say, five or six toys a peice, cuts down on the tornado like spew pattern and lost peices (ha! who am I kidding) considerably.

I am not an anal person, (come and see our garage -loaded with loads of valuable things,FTR, but looks like a hurricane went through it.) kids need to be kids and making a mess is half the fun. But, we have all been to those houses that *always look like a toy bomb blew up in every room, every floor and outside *. This makes me wince. unless there is a major quarantine ( colds, sickness, long bouts of crappy weather), it is clearly a *child lead * house. Then, you go to the other kind of houses, where it looks like they never had kids, and everything is precise and perfect and very, very, surreal. This is clearly the home of drugged children who are so perfect it is frightening or Martha Stewart Wanna be’s. Avoid these people, they are space aliens.

One phenom to watch out for: stuffed animals multiply at an alarming rate. Just have one. One only. Put it in a box and leave it alone. I swear on all that is holy ( and holey) it will multiply on its own. I have, in 5 years, given away at leave 5 large garbage bags filled with stuffed animals. I have not bought any of them.

Actually, you have more time than you think you do.

What I do is organize Aaron’s stuff by sizes and months. Clothes that don’t fit anymore go in one storage tub to be taken downstairs. Clothes that are too big are in a storage tub under his crib. Clothes that he can wear now stay in the laundry baskets, because they’ll fit for maybe a month or two before he outgrows them. Donatability and/or resalability are pretty high, because he outgrows stuff before he stains it.

Toys are a little different. We’ve got Aaron’s toys strewn all over the house. I keep small stuffed fish toys in the playpen because he likes to play with them. His bigger toys are in the living room, within easy reach. And, as he outgrows them (which really hasn’t happened yet), they get put away. Fortunately, he wasn’t much into toys until he was three or four months old and learning to hold things. Anything too advanced for Aaron gets played with by Airman.

For stuffed animals, build shelves to hold them. It’s dangerous to leave a very young baby in a crib with anything more than itself. And Shirley is right; they do breed.


Flylady fan checking in.