Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Rotation

A lot of people can't seem to wrap their mind around how it is possible that we are raising a child in such a small space (because where do we put all of the "stuff?").

Well, I can assure you that Helian definitely has her fair share of material goods--baby toys, books, and contraptions (in addition to all of the non-toy boat gadgets at her disposal)--just not a ton of them.

To keep from being overwhelmed with baby stuff, we start by not buying a lot of it. This seems like an obvious and straightforward solution (or preventative measure, rather), yet a lot of people struggle to comprehend how we are doing it (or perhaps why we're opting to do it at all). The truth is, we live quite easily without the majority of things that other people don't seem to be able to live without. In fact, when I see a lot of these rumored necessities, I struggle to understand why anyone would ever need or want them in the first place. 

The most important thing for us is making sure that Helina has the right stuff to advance her development and spark her curiosity. To ensure that Helina's modest collection of toys is always fresh and new, I rotate it. Last week, she played with her stuffed animal collection (OK, she actually spent most of last week playing with her hair brush and chewing on the box my new phone came in, but there were stuffed animals in the vicinity). This week, Helina is staying busy with her activity cube, bead maze, toy cars, and select books (I have a sub-rotation for her books as well):

Toys du Jour 
Every few days, I replace some of her toys with other toys that she hasn't played with in awhile. She gets excited when she sees these toys reemerge. Sometimes she squeals and bounces up and down at the mere sight of them. It is like they are brand new again or perhaps she is experiencing the joy of being reunited with a good friend that she's missed. I've found that after a few days, the toys that have been "in the mix" the longest no longer hold Helina's attention, but when these same toys appear a few days later, she is captivated by them once again. 

A few items are always in the rotation, like her jumper and the little blanket she has draped on her head in the picture below:

For the most part, however, Helina's toy supply is constantly being refreshed, which keeps her happy, entertained, and absorbed in whatever she has in front of her (except for when she is takes a break to destroy the boat).

There is another component to the rotation that involves actually getting stuff off of the boat and out of our lives. Once Helina has grown out of something, we physically remove it from the boat and donate it to charity. Limiting our purchasing prevents us from buying more than we need, but it does nothing to prevent us from accumulate a burdensome collection of items we no longer use. 

Of course, there is a huge temptation to save absolutely everything (What if we have another baby? What if I find myself wanting/needing something that we donated? What if? What if?). But we can't keep it all, so we don't. And wouldn't you know it, we're just fine. Actually, I'd say we're more than fine. Being conservative with our purchases keeps our lives (including Helina's) as simple and as close to stress-free (and clutter-free) as you can imagine. 

Had we been of the mindset that raising a child required owning a lot of things, then we probably would have ended up owning a lot stuff (and not living on a boat), but we convinced ourselves that we didn't need all that much. And as it turns out, we don't. 

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