Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Newborn Hoarders

The Demas family did a big move recently, which is why I've been MIA from these parts. Miss me? That's my most pressing question. A close second...

Why do first-time parents amass so much baby stuff? 

Packing for the move brought so many dirty secrets to my attention. I couldn't believe how many bibs, burp clothes and blankets I found crammed into corners of closets.

Stuff we never used!

I could have been flabbergasted by such profligacy. But then I remembered what it was like preparing for the arrival of baby. My husband, George, and I were swimming in uncharted retail waters.

I'm an expert shopper for me. I buy a skirt, I know my size or what will go with it in my closet. That new couch will have to match our Oriental rug and hide black cat hair.

Buying for baby numero uno means no compass or map serves as your guide. 

You walk down the aisles of Babys R Us, pitching items into your cart left and right in a paranoid frenzy, which is driven by the vain hope that you have covered every conceivable contingency, circumstance and emergency imaginable. If you aren’t careful, you get momentum going and end up with a baby food maker by Remco, and 50 pairs of baby socks. You get enticed by the mesmerizing purple color of Ibuprofen in liquid form. You get sidetracked by the cuteness factor, and buy a wool jacket that will fit her in August.

Likewise, rationality goes out the window when you are confronted with baby products that you had existed before, and suddenly seem essential for raising a morally-upstanding child. Nose Frieda, Gripe Water, tiny emory boards, all were like revelations from above. You say to yourself, "How did parents ever live without this stuff?" You even go so far as to feel smug about how much better you have it than your mom, all thanks to man's giant step forward in the baby-paraphernalia department.
text with diaper genie
no idea

Then, the baby comes, and you realize that the Diaper Genie isn't going to grant your wish for a good night's sleep.

Before the stork delivers...well, it's close to impossible to plan for an unknown entity. I heard the following question from my husband over and over again, “Are we going to need that?” My repeated response was “I don’t know. I’ve never had a baby”.

Many head-scratchers began with the words “how many” or “what size”. How many diapers? How long will she be in newborn clothes? Like the proverbial trying to read the instructions outside of the box you’re in, it’s all a big mystery.

I was a Girl Scout. I like to be prepared. In my mind, that meant buying two of everything. If one is good, two is better. Yes, I knew I was not Noah and The Ark, but I was nine months pregnant. Therefore, I was as big as Noah's Ark, and the hormones pumping through my body did not render me an exemplar of rationality.

A good piece of advice for new parents is to keep receipts. I doubt there is a more prolific return aisle than the one at Babys R Us. If you don’t, you will end up with what George calls “The Land of Forgotten Toys”. He was good about keeping the receipts, but then returning stuff turned into a job.

And one thing a new parent does not need is another job.

We had piles of things that needed to be packed in their boxes, boxes cluttering the hallway, lists made of replacement items. Our house began to manifest qualities of one from the TV show Hoarders, as the result of conversations that started or ended with something like this: "That’s the second swing that’s made her cry."…"Why did we buy so many sheets?"…"Who conned us into thinking we needed a (fill in the blank)?"

I can look back on our retail adventures and smile now. As Claire gets older and we get wiser, we have become much more strategic in our purchases. The basics are checked off our list. I have the next-size clothes folded, ready to roll. They go with the season, thank you very much.

Now that we've unpacked the new house, a sense of order has returned to our lives and household….Well, that's clearly wishful thinking on my part. We now have a toddler with all of the disarray that this recent development implies.

Plus, a new retail situation seems to be unfolding before my eyes: If anyone has advice about what to do with the growing mound of toys that's slowly taking over our living room like an unchecked disease, please feel free to leave a comment below…


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47 comments:

  1. Oh lady, do I hear you! A wipes warmer? All that thing did was turn the wipes a golden brown color that freaked me out and made me return it days later. And you are so right about the return line at Babies R Us, it is NEVER empty. Not ever.
    My advice to you is get the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, it is right up your alley, and helps with the toy issue too!

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    1. SIMPLICITY PARENTING IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE PARENTING BOOKS. And the list is short. (Sorry for the shouting.) But I totally agree with you.

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    2. But wait? Do I need more stuff? I don't want more stuff!

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  2. You totally brought me back to my baby shopping frenzy. I am a research girl and I read every book on all the things I needed, didn't need and might want. I also became obsessed with strollers. I knew the brands, styles and prices. I don't know how my husband lived with me. I remember it took me an hour and half to pick out my babies snowsuit, I was on feet so long and had not had any water that I ended up having contractions and bleeding!! In the long run, I did not use half of the things I "needed" but I did have a lot of fun!!! Lol! Congratulations on your new home. My mother always says new home new baby so you might find yourself needing all your baby stuff again!! Lol!

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    1. Oh, no...no more babies! We researched the strollers too. And I ended up disliking the one we got!

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  3. Yes, I totally rocked the Babies R Us buying indulgence when I was first pregnant and a first time mother. Then I wised up, but the toy situation here is still out of control. We recently went through and threw out and donated a ton, but we still have so much. My suggestion go through it when she sleeps and get rid of whatever you can and she doesn't realize she even has. It has made it a bit better here, but still could do so much more and feel your pain on this! And congrats on the new home!! :)

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    1. I love that, Janine.."Babies R Us buying indulgence"! So true. Painfully so.

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  4. Heh. The Diaper Genie might even prevent your night's sleep if you don't change it often enough (like yours truly). I am seriously not looking forward to ever moving.

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    1. Confession: I still don't know how to empty ours. My husband does it!

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  5. I was ever so lucky to have a friend who gave me a list. One of the best things she put o6 n it was "get a detachable shower sprayer." Honestly. For the most part I had the good sense to follow her list so I got most of what I needed. I went crazy with the baby slings/carriers. The second most useful thing I received was Harvey Karp's Happy Baby dvd. We watched it for a joke 6 weeks in and sleep deprived from constant crying. That DVD actually worked and we did sleep more.
    OK, for toddler toys? We use the drive through Goodwill donation drop off. Works wonders. If the toy has sat for longer than a month, it goes bye-bye.

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    1. Harvey Karp can suck it! I'm glad it worked for you. He just made me feel bad, because it did NOT work for us.

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  6. OMG I love love love this. Thank you for making me feel less alone. So. Um. I bought a ton (TON) of expensive organic clothes, sheets, diapers and everythings before my son was born. We used about 40% of it. I give a lot to a person I know who sends it to her sister in Guatemala, but still. I am amazed at the number of shoes we bought for different ages, not yet having me our son who DOES not want to wear shoes. OMG to the day that we realized he has an opinion of his own?
    I have my very favorite shirts for him. He hates most of them and asks over and over "Can I please have my black monster truck shirt?" (it doesn't sound like that, but that's what he's saying).
    Oh and also? I commend you on being an expert shopper for YOU> I suck at that, as well. Sigh.
    Regarding the growing mound of toys - more storage. I've donated a TON but was shocked when my kid was looking for something specific, that he hadn't played with since he was a baby. It's amazing what kids remember...

    LOVE this post!

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    1. Well, it's good that it's going somewhere other than the trash. You should feel good about that.

      I want to write a post about that weird power to remember the one toy that they haven't played with in forever...

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  7. I literally had a panic attack when I stepped into Babies R Us to register. We looked around and ended up going back another day, after consulting with our mothers. We still ended up with some things that we didn't need, but I was good and kept the receipts. :) Still, I found many an unused item when we moved, as well. I wish I had an answer for the toy situation. I'm dealing with that one now, as well!

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    1. That is so funny, Jessica, because I did too!

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  8. Yes, I bought a lot of stuff I never used. Or I used once with my first. Oopsie.

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    1. Yeah, the "used once" stuff somehow hurts worse than the "never used".

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  9. Hilarious!! I had to rebuy stuff for number 3 and I got the bear minimum as I learnt from the first time!! I agree with the toy situation, I swear they breed in our toy room!!

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  10. Those people that do the baby marketing are geniuses at making you think that you need something that you really don't! I had worked with infants for a bit in childcare before having one of my own so I was a little bit wise to what I needed. But not enough-I still bought too many things! At least most of the stuff I bought was secondhand from rummage sales and consignment shops!

    Congratulations on the new house. Though for some reason I thought you had bought a "vacation" home, not a whole new place to live! ;-)

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    1. Good for you, Sarah. I was too freaked out to be in the least bit strategic. We wasted way too much money.

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  11. We all do it! And, we all keep it for far far too long. My son was 6 when I finally managed to throw away the baby bath....

    Kate x
    Kate at Home

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    1. Aw, sounds like you are sentimental, Kate! Nothing wrong with that!

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  12. Welcome back you saucy minx!
    I love the unknown entity part. Love!
    I was lucky enough to have many veterans in my family to steer me away from such things as the diaper genie that pretty much makes poopy diapers into a giant sausage.
    Like ew!!!
    I'm keeping things because, well you never know.

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  13. congrats for new home .. :) well written post !

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  14. Welcome home!
    I think that the baby stuff multiplies when we are trying to sleep.

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    1. The operative word is "trying"! Too funny, Kerri!

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  15. Haha I love it. Congrats on your new home as well!

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  16. I think first-time moms should be allowed to hoard that stuff, because it's so cute! I was lucky to have a good baby store within walking distance but even then I bought three months' worth of clothes! As for the toys, I'm dealing with the same thing. For now, I only keep the ones my toddler actually plays with outside and the rest in storage.

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    1. We now have storage! I plan on using it...

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  17. It is amazing how much we amass as first time parents. Congrats on the big move!
    Will you miss city life?

    ¤´¨)
    ¸.•*´
    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo
    Raising-Reagan.com

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    1. Thanks, Lanaya! We are still part-time in the city.

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  18. HaHA. A never mind all the stuff you bought..there is also all the stuff people gave you that you were too polite to refuse. There is a big neon sign over your head when your pregnant for the first time that flashes "I HAVE NO CLUE!" Experienced parents that are looking around their own houses trying to figure out what to do with all the crap they managed to amass see it and flock to you with bags and boxes of clothes/toys/swings etc.

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    1. I know! What is up with the "too polite to refuse"? I do that too! My husband gets so mad at me!

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  19. I had a good friend give me a list of stuff to buy and stuff that was a waste. It was awesome, and has been updated and passed on for six years now.

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    1. That is great. A list of stuff that is a waste. Absolutely needed.

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  20. Here's what to do about the toys: throw a bunch into a cardboard box. Put that box in your garage or on a closet shelf. Leave for a month or so. Bring the box out and let your child open it on a rainy day and it will be like a birthday present with none of the expense.

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    1. Such a GREAT idea! I am doing that. You are brilliant!

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  21. I STILL get sidetracked by the cuteness factor, and I've got four kids!

    I love the new house, and all the trees behind it!! Congrats. :)

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    1. I don't think that will ever go away, alas! Thank you for your kind words about the house. We love it! Yay!

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  22. I swear our toys multiply in the night... that, and the ones we REALLY love seem to disappear without a trace. I swear we have a mischievous ghost who plays tricks on us, bringing new crap into our toy bins and taking off with other things that we spend days searching for. I laughed bitterly at the Diaper Genie can't grant you a decent night sleep line. Seriously.

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  23. This is so accurate and so perfectly described that I was laughing and nodding throughout the whole thing. Your description of the walk down the Toys R Us aisles brought back a memory for me. My husband and I were shopping for a stroller for baby #1 and then he casually mentioned we'd need socks too. I had a huge meltdown because I did not compile a list yet, or didn't have it with me - can't remember which one, and I remember saying - there is so much more this baby will need besides a stroller and a pair of socks and I remember feeling totally panicked and overwhelmed. The end. Great topic for a post and so well written!

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  24. This should be handed out at the first session of every pre-natal class! So (ouch) true! My best advice for that growing mound of toys is to divide it into halves. Put one half into storage for a month (or six) and then switch. Your baby thinks it's Christmas. Several time a year!

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  25. Oh I hear you. And with subsequent babies, you get a little wiser, but not completely. I'm being overrun with stuff for my three girls!

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