May 3, 2013 by Ellen V
We got the sweetest surprise on our doorstep on Wednesday: a box filled with toddler-friendly toys from Mama K (an early Mother’s Day gift “to the girl who made her daughter a mama”).
The toys were on my list to find at garage sales this summer (play food, Legos, refrigerator magnets), and Mama K surprised us with them! Hooray for not having to scour Ebay or Craigslist for a deal! Jane has loved playing with something a little new and different, especially now that the week has turned rainy and chilly again.
The only problem with the new toys is that some old ones need to go. We have put very few toys away, so I was more than ready to find a few of the more babyish things to put away. Which brings us to the real problem here: organization and storage for baby items.
We’re over 16 months in to having a daughter–an exceptionally fast-growing and active daughter–so you can imagine we’ve gone through lots of clothes and baby items that we no longer need, but hope to need again someday! Thus far, the following has been my process. By no means is it perfect, but it’s certainly getting the job done for now.
- We sort as we go.
- Again, since we’re not holding on to things just for the sake of holding on to them, if we know we have way too many of something (say 6-month-sized pajamas or baby rattles), but it’s in good shape, we’ve been passing them on to friends with littles smaller than Jane or donating them. We love the thought of some of her things getting used right away by people we love! And we have been so blessed by those who have passed things on to us, we are happy to pay it forward.
- For the keepers, which is the vast majority of her stuff, I have been simply making sure things are clean and then putting them into large storage bins. When a bin is full, Eric or I tuck it into our crawl space and start a new one.
- Every few months, I try to do a major once-over of the whole house, including toys, books, and clothes. This helps me unclutter a bit as well as find any of the stuff I missed as the days fly by.
Really, that’s it. This all means I don’t sort and label–not even between toys and clothes and feeding items or by size or by gender neutral vs. girly stuff. Why don’t I? Well for one, I know I’d get so wrapped up in it that I’d sort and resort every few weeks. Besides that, it would take a lot more boxes and bins than what we’re interested in investing in. But really the biggest and best reason for not doing all that sorting a labeling is that, like Jane, we imagine any other future kid that might use this stuff won’t be on some perfect growth chart or mobility scale. So if I’m going to have to dig through bins because she’s in 2T tops and 12 month bottoms anyway (yes, we’ve been there), I’m refusing to waste the time twice, both now and later!
For someone who is not a big fan of hanging on to stuff we don’t need, keeping the baby gear around for a someday possibility is a little tough, but the system we’ve got is fairly effective and efficient. So that’s something, at least.