Photo: Ben Kerckx

Spring cleaning time is upon us, and the urge to declutter has a tendency to sneak its way into our homes. Recent trends towards minimalism, tiny houses, and the popularity of the KonMari method ensure that there are constant reminders that we have just too much stuff in our lives.

Add a baby to the mix, however, and the number of belongings grows exponentially. Even the most well-meaning parents seem to end up wondering where all this crap—ahem—stuff, came from.

Prior to my daughter’s arrival, I really tried to be mindful about the amount of stuff I was buying and registering for, knowing that I would have to store it all somewhere. I picked items that had multiple uses, and some that would collapse for easier storage. Imagine my surprise then when I woke up one day after she turned a year old to find every inch of my home filled with a ridiculous amount of toys, feeding supplies, and other baby gear. Surely it had nothing to do with my “I just have to buy this cute thing” complex, right?

The temptation to declutter was staring me in the face. It seemed to be a reasonable solution to my preferred method of cleaning (just throw everything away and start over). But is it really worth the effort? I began to think about (make excuses) for all the reasons maybe I should just leave my house as it is.

In case you have been bitten by the declutter bug, here is my list of 5 reasons why you should most definitely not declutter after your baby turns a year old.

1. You enjoy feeling overwhelmed by stuff you no longer use.

The baby playmat that still sits in the corner. The giant exersaucer that makes a perfect laundry basket holder. The swaddles taking up prime real estate in the top drawer. It’s pretty amazing how we can overlook the stuff that goes unused in our everyday spaces. Half of parenting is just trying to make it to the end of the day, and so we get accustomed to the things that are around us.

Slowly but surely all of the extra stuff begins to create a stressful environment, rather than a relaxing one.

Perhaps you like feeling suffocated by these things? I apparently must. I constantly lament the lack of counter space in my kitchen, and yet still haven’t put away the bowl full of miscellaneous bottle parts by the sink. It’s only been 4 months since my daughter switched to sippy cups. No big deal.

2. You consider stepping over toys that are never played with to be “Cardio”.

Who needs the gym when you have your own workout space at home? Exercise 1: Squat to clean up the basket of blocks the baby just dumped out (you know, the third set you own that is apparently only good for dumping and not building). #2: Bend to pick up the book she just threw for the 5th time. Onto high knees now over the box of toys you deemed “too young” but never moved out of the room.

Work those glutes, parents!

The best time to get rid of toys (or store them for future children) is right after you notice they are sitting gathering dust. If you wait too long, then your toddler is bound to discover the neglected toys all over again and become obsessed with them carrying around. I must really enjoy the workout aspect because I keep racing across the room to stop my generous child from sharing her infant car seat toys with the dog.

3. Putting things (lots of things) back in their place is a calming form of meditation for you.

A place for everything and everything in its place. The more stuff you own, the more places you need. Cleaning up every day with a baby is like being forced to do a 1,000 piece puzzle when you really just wanted to do the 25 piece kids version.

Maybe you really enjoy puzzles.

Lucky for you, your 1-year-old is happy to let you do the same one over, and over, and over again (and most likely right after you just finished putting it all away).

4. You want to build the best jungle gym/indoor playground possible for your little acrobat.

If you are grooming your toddler for the circus, then, by all means, keep accumulating stuff without decluttering old and used items. The more stuff you have, the taller tower your future stuntman or woman is going to try to stack, and then climb.

The same goes for household items like blankets and pillows. Any unnecessary surplus becomes the ultimate padding for jumping off furniture.

The real fun occurs when your toddler starts flopping backward whenever and wherever assuming that the ground will be padded (super fun and not at all heart attack inducing, by the way).

5. You have an endless amount of time to get ready in the morning- because your child sleeps in until 9:00 am.

Decluttering your closet is one of the best things a mom can do. Creating a capsule wardrobe is even better, allowing you to easily pair up outfits and get ready in a flash during the few moments available between feedings, diaper changes, and playtime.

However, perhaps you have a sleepy little cherub who wakes up smiling long after your second cup of coffee and morning yoga ritual. If that is the case, then enjoy browsing leisurely through all of the clothing options you never wear to find that one missing shirt you just know is in there somewhere.

Maybe it is time to declutter after all.

Reading through the list I created, it turns none of those reasons fit my situation (unfortunately). It’s time for me to do some serious decluttering to help create a more relaxed, stress-free and enjoyable atmosphere at home. When stuff starts getting in the way of, rather than enhancing life, it’s time for it to go for good.

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