May 27, 2015

So Much Baby Stuff and We Can't Even Give It Away!

I cannot even walk into my dining room right now it is that full of so much baby gear and stuff. I'm talking 9 months worth of clothes, toys, receptacles, mementos and, well, crap. It's insane. CJ spent last night reorganizing the mess but really he just piled it all up so high that I need to barricade the girls in the living room for fear they will roll on in and get crushed. Thankfully our neighborhood garage sale is coming up and I get to purge and then donate everything because I've tried listing it on Craigslist and Facebook and have no takers. So frustrating!!!

Staring at it today I realized just how ridiculous it all is. Having a baby is kind of like getting married in that there's all this pressure these days to go big or go home. The truth is so many of those brand new and often expensive so-called "baby necessities" are worthless after a few months, if you're lucky, some only get used for a few weeks! And yet people are so hesitant to buy used items for their new baby. We just keep adding to the waste when we have to have the newest and greatest baby gear invention or bust.

We did what we could to save money by taking hand-me-downs, buying at garage sales and asking friends and family to donate their left over gear to us but we still ended up with so much unnecessary junk that is now just taking up precious space in our tiny apartment. Obviously it's moreso for us because we have twins but so much of this stuff is so big I know that singleton parents feel the same way.

Take for example the receptacles.We had at one point two bouncy chairs, two rock and plays, two boppy pillows, two boppy chairs, two playnests, two jumpers/exersaucers and a twin size pack and play. What the what? Was all that really necessary? Well, yeah, I guess so, considering babies grow like freaking weeds and what they fit into last week they can't use the following week. Thank god we didn't buy it all new but what's sad is that the resale value is nowhere near what it could be. And don't even get me started on the clothes. I have probably $500 worth of brand new clothes that fit them for like a second but I can't even get $5 (including shipping!) for the cute matching onesies in a multiples resale group without bumping and flashing it every other day. Yet you know these parents won't hesitate to drop $25 on the exact same set in the store. Just because it's new with tags!?!

I get it, there's something about the newness of a baby that makes you feel like you need to keep everything fresh and clean and, well, new. I felt the same way at first and hesitated on buying so many adorable lots of second hand baby clothes citing this very reason but as we neared the end and I was garage saleing I just could not pass up so many cute finds! The tiny yet beautiful dresses that looked brand new for $3 that retail for $30. I just had to stock up on the pants for .50 each and bought 20 of them! And of course there were the practically new shoes and jackets for $1 a piece. I once came home with a garbage bag full of new-looking dresses, shorts, bodysuits, headbands and socks for $10!!! Just last week my mom and I went to carter's and spent almost $100 on two bathing suits, two pairs of sunglasses and 3 outfits each. Ugh. Did my kids know the difference? Were they judging me when I dressed them in hand-me-downs today? What's worse, if I try to resell any of it I'll get the same (if anything) for the hand-me-downs as I would for the brand new stuff!

There's something wrong here.

I see perfectly good strollers, car seats, cribs, changing tables, monitors, toys, everything, practically brand new, sitting on swap sites at deeply discounted prices for months and then watch as people go and register for these exact same items for hundreds of dollars more in the store. Why do we allow the baby companies to do this to us? Why are we made to feel less than if we can't afford brand new or simply want to save a bit, you know to maybe actually spend on our children rather than their stuff?  Why do we force our relatives and friends to take their hard earned dollars and spend it on new gear when they would be much happier picking up a cute outfit or some toys or books for our little one?  And worse, why are we not helping out a fellow Mama and putting some cash back in her pocket instead of the big box companies???

It's not like there isn't an abundance of barely used baby gear in the world. It's not like people want to throw away hundreds of dollars on something they'll use for 3 months. It's just what society tells us we're supposed to do. And what's even sadder is that when they aren't able to resell it so many people just throw it away, despite the fact that there are tons of people out there in need. Did you know the Salvation Army won't take baby gear? What is that about?! I get sick when I drive around and see perfectly good items out on the street for trash pick-up when they could easily be donated somewhere. We decided that everything that doesn't sell at the garage sale is getting donated to the local church or posted as free on Facebook and I am determined to make sure it all goes to people who need it. I know we'll likely lose a lot of what it's all worth but I can't hold on to it any more hoping someone will come along and pay that much for it. Because people just don't do that.

If I had to I'd say there are only two things that you really have to buy new before baby is born:


That's it! And that's not even true if you're using cloth!

Everything else can be washed, deep cleaned, repaired or repurposed! Yes, even car seats, although I highly recommend only getting these used from someone you know and trust. People lie about accidents and it is not safe to use one after it's been in an accident. But other than that, why are we not regifting and reusing EVERYTHING?

There is absolutely no reason why every single brand new mom needs to have every single brand new baby item. Bottles and pacifiers can be washed and sterilized - ours are 9 months old and I just hand washed and boiled them all and they look brand new. But instead of getting even half of the $100 I spent on them I'll be giving them away because no one wants used bottles.

Crib sheets? Come on! People balk at used crib sheets!? Dude, unless a baby had a poosplosion of epic staining proportions or tore the sheet to bits I see no reason why a hot wash and maybe a dunk in some diluted bleach wouldn't take care of any problems. But no, it's better to go drop $25 for a pack of two at BRU. I could see if they were made of high quality egyptian silk and came with a guarantee that baby would sleep through the night on them or whatever but it's freaking cotton and not even nice cotton at that!

And don't even get me started on the furniture. People can't even GIVE changing tables away. Why would we rather drop $150 on a brand spanking new piece of wood that will literally be used for 8 months before baby learns to alligator death roll off it than just borrow our neighbors? Because we're worried they'll think we're cheap? Because theirs may have some remnants of poo and pee that are invisible to the naked eye? Because baby will silently judge us for daring to change her precious bum where some other baby's bum was (although you could just buy a new pad!)? It's ridiculous!

Two of my close friends are having babies at the end of the summer. Do you know how badly I want to just give them all of my things? Yes, I mean as shower gifts. Don't worry, I KNOW that's taboo. I KNOW I can't do it.  I am too proud to ever do it considering the side-eye I'd apparently be opening myself up to. I mean, I can give them these things, just not as gifts, it has to be a donation - despite the fact that most of the items are practically new.

Boppy pillows? Everyone wants one. I have two. I used them for about 5 months and have washed them - they're like new but I can't give them as gifts and won't get anywhere near the $30 they cost in store for them.

Mobiles? Again, I have two. Used each for about 6 months, they are completely like new and with brand new batteries too. Can't even give 'em away.

One of the four diaper bags I received? It's never even been used, I just took the tags off. Can't give it because it has no tags.

Playnests that we used for 3 months? Can't even tell they were ever even sat in. But I can't give them because, again, there's no box! Tried selling them for less than half of what they cost and got no takers. Insane.

So I have to go out and spend money I don't have on brand new items I know my friends don't even really need when I have a house full of the exact same things. I'm not cheap (actually I am, we're poor) but please don't misunderstand: it's not that I don't want to give my friends' babies nice things (of course I do!) it's just that I already HAVE the nice things that are practically off the shelf, they just don't come with the tags and receipts so I can't give them! It sucks. Just because society thinks that all brand new babies need all brand new stuff. Honestly, this is a big part of what's wrong with the world. We're so wasteful but made to feel like we don't have any other choice.

We did fall prey to it to an extent, but mostly for practical reasons. We bought new cribs because I needed two that would fit side by side in a teeny tiny room and that they could grow into. We bought a new changing table because I couldn't find one that was a dresser too for cheaper than what I found new. Family and friends gifted us new car seats because who the hell has two car seats to just give away?

But - my kids wear used cloth diapers and clothes all the time.

Their crib sheets are all used except for the 2 that family got us.

Almost every toy they have was picked up at a garage sale or was originally my niece's.

I accepted everything anyone gave me without even once thinking, ewwww that's gross. Sure, we have received toys that are nasty, covered in old food or who-knows-what but I just give them a scrub and they're like new. Some diapers and clothes have stains on them - did you know the sun does an excellent job of removing those stains? Just lay them in the yard for a day and you're good to go. Hell, they spent the first four months of their lives sleeping in rock and plays that were used by my niece and boss's son three years ago! No, they're not the fancy brand new ones with the pillow top or the vibration but they're babies for god sake, they don't know the difference and we saved hundreds of dollars!

Ok, I'll get over this eventually, I know. I just wish things could be different. I wish there was a way to stop the madness and get rid of the stigma of used baby stuff. What's funny is that it all goes out the window at some point and it seems like the magic number is about one year old. After that everything is fair game. People who balked at buying used for their infant have no problem seeking out used toys, beds, clothes, shoes, backpacks, coats, etc. for their three year old.  Did we ever think that maybe, just maybe, if we didn't spend so much damn money in the first year that we could save towards these things for the future? I dunno, I'm crazy and I talk too much. And I'm done. Rant over.



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