A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Minimalist Advice for New Moms and Dads

There is so much I would do differently as a new mom. If I had discovered minimalism when my kids were younger, life could have been so much simpler. My oldest is now in middle school and in many ways life is far from simple.

I consider myself a fairly laid back mom. I never stressed over trying to schedule my babies naps or feedings. I nursed them when they let me know they were hungry and I never EVER woke a sleeping baby unless absolutely necessary. As the oldest of five children, I felt as prepared as I could be for having babies.

I was not prepared for the mountain of clutter a new infant can bring to your family. Months before my first son was born, the nursery was decorated with a full Noah’s ark theme. From the matching comforter set to the framed prints and Noah lamp, every inch was covered. I used to sit by myself and look around the small, yet packed room and imagine how our lives were about to change.

I vividly remember going down each and every row at Babies R Us, registering for more baby supplies than a single child could ever use. When all the baby showers were over, we went back to the store and purchased any missing items ourselves. We couldn’t stand the thought of being unprepared for the birth of our son.

As I’m sure you can guess, we had way too much stuff. Clothes went unworn. He never took a pacifier despite my efforts. We never used the giant SUV sized stroller because it weighed as much as I did and took up the entire trunk of our car.

If I knew what I know now, I would do a lot of things differently:

  • I wouldn’t assume a need for something until I actually experienced that need.
  • I would buy fewer clothes, take more pictures, and more naps.
  • I would skip the cradle and the bouncy seat.
  • I would still get a playpen but choose the basic model.
  • I would remember to tell my husband to raise the side of the crib when you put a child to sleep BEFORE leaving him alone with our baby.

The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year

My friend, Rachel Jonat, just wrote a book that shows how peaceful and uncluttered a life with a baby can be. If you or someone you know is a new parent or about to become one, her book is a must read! I certainly wish the book had been written when my kids were born.

The book is called The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year. It is full of ideas for:

  • doing more with less
  • avoiding the clutter trap of too much baby stuff
  • slowing down so you can enjoy the early months with your new baby
  • saving money
  • creating a peaceful spacious home no matter the square footage of it
  • finding more time in your day for things like sleep (!), relaxing and bonding with your new baby

I have to be honest and tell you that because Rachel is a friend of mine, I would be tempted to promote her book whether it was incredible or not. She was the first minimalist mom that I met when I started my own journey to minimalism. We both started blogging around the same time and it’s been encouraging and lots of fun to share our adventures together.

I can honestly say that Rachel’s book is great and I’m proud to promote it. The first half of her book covers the foundation of minimalism and the second half covers the specifics of how to apply minimalism to your baby’s first year. It’s available on PDF and on Kindle. It’s a great investment for your sanity.

If you’d like to read more from Rachel, you can follow her blog at The Minimalist Mom. Be sure to say “Hi” and tell her I sent ya. 🙂

Now it’s your turn: What would you do differently during your baby’s first year?

If you’d like to read more about minimalist living for families, please consider reading my book, Family-Sized Minimalism or  sign up for updates. Thanks so much for reading!

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Article originally published on 11/06/2011

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  1. With my first child, I prepared much of his baby food and he ate it for quite a while. With my second, I still prepared some pureed fruits and veggies, but I started feeding her what we ate MUCH sooner. That was SO much simpler and also I think why she’s less picky about texture than my first is.

    • Faith Janes says

      Great tip! My daughter is such a picky eater and I’m convinced it’s because of bad habits learned as a baby. She did awesome with the totally pureed baby foods. But as soon as she graduated to a stage with more texture in it, she would refuse it all. It’s been so hard to undo those early habits.

  2. I never used a cradle for my son and afterwards I regretted that. He slept in a crib (or in my bed) from the start. He was a very light sleeper and I think that sleeping in a crib, which is absolutely huge for a newborn baby, does not give the feeling of being sheltered like a cradle does. He slept a lot in my arms too.

    • Faith Janes says

      My boys both slept in a cradle or in our bed for months. Since my babies were so big they outgrew the cradle by four months. With my daughter we used a playpen instead and it lasted a lot longer for us. We actually got a lot of use out of playpens. I always hated when the babies had to graduate to the crib. It felt lonely for both of us.

  3. Hey Faith!
    Man–I would BUY LESS! I agree with all you said about buying by NEED. I would also be more mindful of the toys. I was bad and admittedly went out and bought EVERY spiderman action figure, “because he didn’t have that one”….he was 2 and didn’t care. If I ony had bought ONE he wouldn’t have known the difference!

    after 3 boys–I finally had a little girl. 2 years later-I take that memory of “stuff” into the stores when I go. There is such an oppurtunity to buy the cute pink princess stuff..the disney stuff she likes…but I refrain. She has ONE of her favs. And she takes care of it…and we always know where it is….and there is less clutter and less money spent on things I will get rid of later. Wish I knew that earlier!

    • Faith Janes says

      Amen on the toys! We really overdid it with our first two kids. It seems like as soon as a child likes a certain type of toy (whether it’s Spiderman, Hot Wheels, or Bob the Builder) we go overboard with getting everything that matches. Like you said, it definitely doesn’t have to be that way. You treasure what you have more if you have a favorite. Wishing I could teach my younger self those kind of lessons. 🙂

  4. Toys…My daughter has a few and sort of plays with them but we change them up every couple of months and exchange then with other toys we have in our basement that way they are always new to her. I can’t remember the last time I bought any though.

  5. None of our 6 children used pacifiers. They breastfed for the first year so I never bought formula. With the last two babies I used Gerber commercial prefold diapers with velcro covers. I used disposables before that. We did have playpens in the livingroom. I prefer playpens for sleeping(covering the playpen mattresses with plastic then sheets). I watch my granddaughters(the oldest is 4) and my 5- month- old granddaughter sleeps in the playpen with the mattress in the raised position, for now. Soon we’ll be using the playpen in the livingroom just as a playpen. None of my 3 daughters-in-law or daughter(21) wanted to try cloth diapers for their babies. My daughter’s baby decided at 20 months that she no longer wanted the pacifier(PTL). I do like the bouncy seats- I put the grandbabies in them right after the bottle.

  6. I would definitely buy less. We had every Noah’s ark thing too, and never used a lot of stuff we had. How many receiving blankets, bath towels, and plastic noise-making toys do you need? Way less than we had anyway. If I had to do it over I would make my own baby food (it’s super easy and you know what goes in it), would not introduce my kids to sugar (. . . maybe . . ever! ) and would be a lot more simple (I learned too late that soccer is NOT necessary for a 3 year old – schedules get really busy soon enough, no need to push it). It’s not about stuff or going, going, going. Spending time together, unrushed, unscheduled, and with family is so much more precious than I realized when I was worried about what my kids were missing out on.

  7. i would keep less clothes, both the ones the kiddo is wearing currently & for future babies! just yesterday i finally purged all the clothes i’d been saving from my first son for my second, 6 years in between, with a girl in the middle. now? one bin with a bitty bit for each of 4 kids. no. more.

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