Remember the first heady days of living in NYC? You were probably young, single, kind of broke, and ready to take the city by storm. Sleep? For the weak. Who can sleep with all that energy in the streets anyway? There were parties to crash and shows to see, galleries to peruse and music to rock.
But then you met that special someone and things took a turn for the domestic. And now, those funky rooftop parties in Williamsburg are about to be swapped for playdates in Central Park. There’s a baby on the way (or maybe newly arrived) and how the heck are you going to make room for that?
Luckily, we talked to Daphne Kohavy, owner and operator of NYC-based The Functuary and professional organizer extraordinaire, to get her top tips for bringing up a city kid, sans clutter.
For the expecting mom and dad: Go showerless!
Okay, not showerless as in don’t bathe (that will happen naturally during those sleep-deprived weeks of parenthood), but baby showerless. And this is not to say that you shouldn’t throw yourself a “holy crap I’m pro-creating!” party, but that whatever you do, it should not revolve around procuring tons and tons of baby stuff—most of which you really won’t need.
Ask any new mom or dad, the baby days go by fast. And, often, you don’t even know what you need until you need it. So Daphne suggesting asking people to donate immaterial gifts. “Ask your friends,” she says, “to give meals, give cleaning, give time, and give support! These are the things you truly need in those first months of parenthood. They won’t take up any space, and they will help save your sanity.” Other than that, ask for gift cards to Amazon or your baby store of choice—because the one thing you know you’re going to need is diapers (something you’ll want to get out of your house as soon as possible).
For new families: Be creative to avoid clutter
Toys are the glitter of childhood—often you have no idea where they came from and they’re almost impossible to get rid of. So Daphne’s advice is to be “very diligent about what you bring into your apartment. Kid’s toys are cheap, and so they’re easy to acquire, but really think about what your kid needs versus their temporary wants. The absolute best solution is to barter toys with your friends! Once a month, do a toy swap—that way, you’ll get a fresh set of toys, without a fresh set of clutter.”
And, remember, a toy doesn’t have to be a toy to be a toy! In other words, everything can be a toy to a kid. The kitchen is a treasure trove of potential toys—give your little one a small pan and some plastic utensils and, voila! They’re helping you cook…something every child loves to do. A bonus part of this tactic? “You’ll be helping your child value experiences more than they value things,” says Daphne.
Emphasize experiences: Start a “fun fund”
Instead of spending money on that toy that will get broken or boring within hours, instead start an “experience fund.” Talk with your kid about some fun activity you know they want to do–going ice skating or to the movies or even a trip someplace warm. Every time your child starts begging you for some new trinket, tell them that you need to save that money for their “fun fund” and that the more they save the sooner they’ll have fun.
Then, regardless of how much you’ve saved, be sure to empty out the “fun fund” and go have some great bonding time with your kiddo! You’ll save space, a little cash, and create memories instead of clutter.
Already knee deep in kid-related clutter? Then consider donating your toys to a wonderful charity like Room to Grow. Want to save your toys and kiddie clothes either for sentimental reasons or to pass down to baby number two (or three!)? Then keep them safe and sound and out of the way in your very own storage unit.