Help! Too Much Stuff for Too Little Space

Dear Mary: I have a young daughter who is almost three-years-old. Eventually, my husband and I plan on having more children. I have saved lots of baby things, clothing, toys and other items, but I am having trouble storing all of these things. They have taken over.

I cannot possibly take up any more space with these things. I have begun bags for donation and garage sales, but there are some things I need to keep for future children. I do not like the idea of paying for storage space elsewhere, but I am not sure what to do with growing accumulation. Can you help? Becky


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Dear Becky: Do you have friends or relatives with garage, basement or attic space you could use for a few years? If not, I suggest you decide what items you really need to retain, then plan to replace the rest.

For all of the clothes, blankets and other soft items, get a couple of Space Bags that are easily filled and then compressed using your vacuum cleaner that has a hose to suck out all the air. I used dozens of these to get all of my linens, blankets, pillows and clothing ready for long-term storage (my husband and I are still living in our seriously downsized tiny apartment as we wait to make a big move next spring) and I was surprised just how well they worked once I followed the instructions exactly. For the record: My method of overstuffing a bag before removing the air did not work. At. All. 

Once the air is removed, you can stash these flattened bags under beds or in the tops of closets. It really is quite amazing.

As for baby gear and equipment like crib, swing, high chair and so forth, get out your tools and disassemble them, putting all of the pieces into compact boxes that you can tuck away. Be sure to take photos during the process and label them with a great deal of detail so you’ll remember how to put these items back together when the new babies arrive.

Dear Mary: I have been a faithful reader of your articles for the last two years. Though I live in India, it has helped me a lot. I paid off my credit card completely, and I have not touched it in nearly 18 months! You are great motivator for me. I thank God for you.

I recently received one of your books from the USA through a relative of mine. Every day, I eagerly look forward to reading your column. God bless you. Thank you once again. Keep it going. Laly

Dear Laly: How great to hear from you across so many miles. I am so proud of you to have paid off that credit card! Sadly, I believe that credit card debt has become a globally unifying concept. It affects us in similar ways even though our cultures might be vastly different.

A credit card is not the problem. The problem is the debt, which is the result of abusing the card, that can quickly become a life-altering problem.

I hope you enjoy that book, Debt-Proof Living, just recently released in its 15-year anniversary edition. I loved having the opportunity to re-write and refreshen it for a new generation of readers.

I really look forward to hearing from you again.

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7 replies
  1. joy says:

    After having six children, I have become a firm believer in less is more. With each child what I have, use, and keep is pared down. I have a list of items I love but for the most part do without the extras. Keep in mind that if and when there is a new baby there will be people wanting to give baby gifts and likely you will want to add a few new items special for the new arrival. I would keep one Very small box of cloths from each size that you loved, not just liked, and are in great shape. Get rid of the rest, clothes are cheap from resale shops and people love to give cute outfits. Pitch/get rid of anything that is cheap and easy to replace, will get nasty with age (pacifiers or chew toys) or is rubber (pumps don’t last well). I keep one crib/toddler bed, one playpen with infant level (use as bassinet in my room), one baby chair/vibrator (the one I love will convert for older kids as a chair so it is good for years), one carrier, about three blankets and I use a Rubbermaid container for bathing (when not in use I use it to store stuff in), one good stroller (recommended from this site, it is the best ever). I had a swing that we kept but it died and the bouncer was needed by someone else. Swings, bouncers, and high chairs are easy to buy second hand in very good shape. Car seats should be bought new so that you might want to keep or buy new. Toys – well with grandparents and birthdays and all there are more than enough. Don’t keep unless it is special. The changing table became a pad that I could lay out on a bed, the bumbo became a large pillow, the fancy diaper pail a plastic grocery bag that got tied and went in the kitchen trash.

  2. Michele Pembor Kirkpatrick says:

    I also agree with Dawn. We have far fewer items for our last child than for our first. His clothes do (barely) fit in one drawer. We used far fewer accessories and baby gear this time around. Also check expiration date on the car seat – if your children have several years between them it may expire before you use it again.

  3. DianaB says:

    I frankly would keep the expensive things (crib, high chair, dresser, car seat, etc., even books) The rest of it I would not worry about as all can be replaced from a thrift store, new baby shower, etc. Don’t sweat the small stuff and clear out your things. Give the clothing and the like to the thrift store, a pregnant friend or neighbor, Salvation Army or a pregnancy counseling center where ladies can get these things for their newborns. I think you are overthinking this whole “save for the future” thing and you will feel very uplifted and uncluttered when you do.

  4. John McKee says:

    When you have more of anything than you have room for, its time to give some of it away. It is a reminder that God provided what you needed before, and He will provide it, as you need it, in the future.

  5. Elle says:

    I agree with Dawn. When children are young, there are so many neat things to invest in, but when it comes down to it, most of them are not at all necessary. If we parents can resist the temptation to indulge in all those appealing but unnecessary items, it can only help later on down the line as we hone our money management and decision making skills.

  6. Dawn says:

    Becky, I wish I had known then (when my girls were babies) what I know now, and that is that we only really need a fraction of what our society and advertisers tell us that we need. Your life will be so much simpler and more pleasant if you just do away with the vast majority of the clutter. All you really need is a crib, a high chair, a car seat, and books. The few clothes that kids need at each side take up little space–just a drawer, really. Really examine your stuff and see if you really need it. Good luck!

  7. Janet says:

    For Becky: If you are in the baby, small children season you likely have friends that are too. Why don’t you see if you can loan the items out to a trusted friend while not needed?


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