By Alison Cupp Relyea
If there is one lesson many of us learned from the holidays, it is that often less is more. This applies to childrearing more than almost any other area of our lives, and as it is a popular New Year’s Resolution, I decided to look at a few ways this mantra can shape our parenting.
When it comes to gear, toys and clothing for young ones, you will be a happier, more organized parent from the early days if you adopt this philosophy. It is a hard thing to do, particularly with the clothes, which are oh-so-cute, but when you are sorting through outgrown, unworn items as your child quickly passes through the infant sizes, you will begin to see the beauty of having enough but not too much. With gear, including bedding, the best way to approach purchases is quality and functionality over quantity. Your child does not need ten hooded towels, for example. Two larger, thicker ones that will last for a few years is better than a whole bunch of the newborn ones.
There are items where quality really matters, and buying a high-quality item will mean that you never have to replace it in the time that your child needs it. If you live in a city with cold winters, spend money on a warm, wind-resistant stroller bunting. If you plan to carry your baby on walks, invest in a baby carrier that supports your back and works for older babies as well as newborns. With sheets and bedding, find a simple design with high-quality fabric that will outlast the crib and toddler bed days. We recommend ours at Petite Vigogne, made from high-quality fabrics and built to last while enveloping your baby in the softest of textures. Your baby will grow and your décor may change, but your bedding will stand the test of time.
When it comes to hand-me-downs, they can be very helpful, and community pages that allow for an exchange of baby items are a great way to connect with other parents. If you say yes to everything that comes your way, however, you will end up with a house full of stuff. You may even forget what is in the bag from your neighbor down the hall until it is too late to use it. My advice when you are given hand-me-downs is to go through the items right away and ask yourself, “Do I need this?” rather than, “Could this be useful?” Anything you do not want can be donated to an organization that helps families in need. You can ask yourself the same question as you clear out your child’s drawers and toy shelves. It feels great to donate to those in need, and is a positive way to communicate to your child from a young age that you are a family who gives to others and does not waste.
The “less is more” philosophy can apply to our behavior as parents, too. Do not provide a lot of choices for your children when it comes to things like food at mealtime or what to wear to preschool. Children do well with only two options, knowing they have to pick one. Also, while it may seem like your neighbor’s child is doing every activity under the sun from piano lessons to Mandarin, try only one or two things at a time. What your child needs most in the early years is food, sleep, exercise and love. Reading books at home and playing in the bathtub are activities in their own rights, and will keep you from spending a lot of money and racing around town.
Life with children can become complicated. Keep it simple where you can!