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