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Clearing the Clutter: What Stays and What Goes?

Four months left to go, and I’m suddenly consumed by housekeeping urges. I’m not sure if this behavior counts as nesting, since it’s not all baby-related, but I’ve definitely been bitten by the clutter-clearing bug. I know it’s too early to start dealing with #2’s nursery. I’m more than a little bit superstitious, and it seems like it would be inviting bad karma to start decorating a baby’s room when I’m not even out of my second trimester. But I’m itching to do something, and sneaking online to look at baby boy crib bedding just isn’t cutting it.

So I’m turning my attention to other things. I hate clutter anyway, but something hormonal is running amok in my head and is insisting that everything unnecessary must go. It didn’t help that I treated myself to an afternoon showing of ‘Eat Pray Love,’ and have subsequently become obsessed with the idea of fitting all my earthly belongings into a single duffel bag.

Ha. I haven’t gone that crazy…yet. But I do want to purge as much as possible. I love fresh starts and organized drawers (even if I can never manage to keep them that way.) Stuffed garbage bags marked “Salvation Army” make my heart flutter with joy. Despite my bad habit of accumulating way too much, I love nothing more than to dump it all. Over and over again. My house usually looks neat from the outside, but it’s the hidden secrets I’m determined to be rid of for good. I’m anxious enough about welcoming a second child into our already chaotic household—having things in smooth, clutter-free working order is the only defense I can think of.

I started with the kitchen cabinets and under the bathroom sinks. Goodbye, half-empty bottles of body lotion from three apartments ago. See you later, wire hangers saved “just in case” and canned goods so far past their “use by” dates that their metal containers are starting to implode. Wardrobe renovations may not be very advisable when one can’t wear one’s regular clothing, but nonetheless I relegated several armloads of ill-fitting jeans, ratty tee shirts and what-was-I-thinking impulse buys to the reject pile.

Now on to the important stuff: baby items. There are too many of them. Some will have to go. But how can I decide what to keep and what to give away? I have enough unnecessary infant items to outfit a whole busload of new moms who’ve registered at Babies R Us. Teensy hats, burp cloths, silly little bibs that did nothing to prevent sweet potatoes from getting everywhere, every pacifier holder and sippy cup and pureed food container known to man. A mechanical swing E used to scream at the sight of. A million pairs of mismatched baby socks. Where did all this stuff come from? Why on earth was I so convinced I actually needed it all?

And then there are the toys. There are toys of all shapes, colors and developmental purposes stuffed in bins all over the house. Most of them E has never even glanced at. I want them gone. But what if #2 has different ideas about what’s entertaining? The Whoozit everyone insisted I needed three of is dusty but otherwise pristine—E never gave him a second look. But could #2 decide the Whoozit is the greatest thing since breast milk? Probably.

Any advice for what stays and what goes when you’re preparing for a second baby—or even a first one—is much appreciated. I’m already drowning in E’s cast offs, and hand-me-downs from well-meaning friends. But if I learned one lesson as a new mom, it’s that babies don’t need a whole lot. And my sanity may depend on keeping the house pared down to the barest of essentials. (But please don’t quote me on this…it could always be the hormones talking!)

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