Jenn Morgan Danny Drake

Excess - it's all around us. There seem to be so many things that we just can't bear to live without. In recent months, I have begun to take a slightly more minimalist approach to living. I don't live in a hut, and I do buy items that I don't necessarily need, but I am trying more and more to pause before I purchase. I ask myself, "Do I need this item? Will I use it or put it aside for possible use in the unknown future?"

My husband and I do not own a prestigious house or all of the latest home electronics with bells and whistles, but somehow, we still manage to find ourselves amidst clutter. I loathe clutter, and would rather have less in my house but have the ability to find whatever it is that I am looking for when I need it.

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When it comes to my daughter, however, I find I have a more difficult time "just saying no." From toys to clothes, there are many goods that catch my eye and entice me with their good looks. I can just imagine my daughter grinning from ear to ear with delight upon receiving her new play tent, doll, etc. I know that she will likely play with the toy for 15 minutes before she gets easily distracted with a cardboard box, but the dreamer in me still needs to take a moment to come back down to reality before I put the item back on the shelf.

With the holidays having just passed, I decided to purge many of the old toys, clothes and baby items that were no longer being used. I would much rather donate the items to families who need them instead of hanging on to dust collectors. As I cleaned out the nursery, I found numerous baby items that my husband and I deemed as "must-haves" while we were preparing for our little one. Our registry wish list was long, and we heard quite a few times from experienced parents that "we didn't have all these things when we were raising our kids." Honestly, these comments went in one ear and out the other. If my husband and I did not receive most everything on our registry, we worried if would we be prepared to raise our child properly.

As I load up boxes and boxes of these supposed "must-haves", I can't help but laugh out loud at our naive misconceptions. Among the numerous newborn bath robes, special feeding spoons, and gripper bathing gloves, lie neglected educational toys that I felt my infant could not live without. If my daughter did not have the musical color octopus, how would she learn to distinguish pink from purple? Not only was my daughter uninterested in the octopus, the repetitive music was quite annoying to me. She is more interested in having me teach her colors than a cotton-stuffed toy. Oh, and those bath robes? Try manipulating a screaming infant's arms into armholes - it won't happen. Instead, we simply wrapped our baby in a nice warm towel. I am happy to have many new items to donate to charity, however I am a little embarrassed by our initial greed.

With all the fancy products that are available on the market for you, for your baby, for your home, sometimes the basics are better. Sometimes fancy is fun, but not when I can't find it under a pile of junk.


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