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Toys vs. tidiness

Written by: Suzanna Palmer June 17 2012 Long before I was in a place to have kids, I decided I didn’t want to have a house that announced “I HAVE A BABY … WITH A LOT OF TOYS” to anyone who walked through the front door. While I know that lots of moms may not...

Written by: Suzanna Palmer

Long before I was in a place to have kids, I decided I didn’t want to have a house that announced “I HAVE A BABY … WITH A LOT OF TOYS” to anyone who walked through the front door.

While I know that lots of moms may not think twice about having lots of baby things visible around the house, it was important to me that our home retain some semblance of pre-baby life. Clutter makes me feel stressed. Brightly colored clutter, all the more. For me personally, it was important that our home still feel calm and peaceful, which for me, just happens to mean neutral colors and everything in its place.

All that said, when Jacob was born, I was sure I would never have a jumble of plastic things littering every inch of my floor. I write this now, with no less than ten toys scattered across my living room floor. They’re, of course, all garishly colored, and at least until I’m finished with this post, I don’t intend to do a thing about the clutter.
Learning how to find the balance between having an aesthetically-pleasing home and a happy, entertained and stimulated baby hasn’t been easy.

Pre-Jacob, I reasoned that bazillions of kids had been born without having the latest Baby Einstein innovation and still managed to grow up happy and healthy with fully-functioning brains. I figured that Jacob could play just as well with a cardboard box. (Take that, mass commercialism!)

And, while much of this is true—he does love cardboard boxes—Jacob’s toys have been a lifesaver for me when it comes to keeping him busy while I’m working (like now), not to mention how much fun it is to see his eyes light up when he sees one of his favorites comes out of the toy basket.

Despite my pre-baby illusions of a toyless home, it didn’t take long for us to fill a basket of toys to the brim: teddy bears, books, teethers, rattles, you name it and we have it. Thanks to a pretty woven basket and a neutral-colored blanket, I’ve been able to compromise between my love of a clean home and Jacob’s love of his toys. When his toys are not in use, I keep everything hidden away in the basket, topped with the (neatly folded!) blanket.

To keep things from getting too crazy, I try to do “ten second tidies” throughout the day, returning whatever baby items are not in use back to their respective storage places. Most of Jacob’s things—his bumbo seat, his car seat, his diaper bag, toy train and high chair, are stored on our pantry floor when not in use. Because of how they have to be stacked in the long, narrow space, getting one out means getting them all out. It takes a little extra time and a commitment, but for me, having an uncluttered living room and kitchen makes the extra inconvenience worth it.

I know that my efforts to keep the house looking baby-free (minus the actual baby, of course!) probably won’t last forever. Once Jacob grows and especially if another little one ever enters the picture, I’ll probably be too busy to keep up with the constant cleaning or too tired to care. Who knows, I may even look back at my efforts and laugh at how OCD I am now. Still, I can’t help but hope that I’ll come up with a few new storage solutions in the meantime.

Or, maybe I’ll just learn to like bright colors.