why I don’t stockpile for the future

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This is a continuation in our Children and Minimalism series and a companion to Reformed Stockpiler (household edition).

As a rule, I do not stockpile for the toddler. Anymore.

Baby showers are the invention of stockpiling things for tiny people. Things you think you’ll need, things your friends and family think you’ll need. A hope and a prayer of what season it will be when your tiny newborn finally wears those 18m clothes. It is all given with the utmost sincerity and good intention, but if my experience is anything typical a solid half of the gifts I received never fit well into our lives. I saved and packed and sorted and organized for nearly a year and a half until I realized nothing left would work for him. I finally wished them well and sent them on to a new home where they would be useful and loved.

Similarly, the times I’ve bought ahead for the next season or stored handmedowns hoping to save a few dollars, I’ve found that half of it isn’t practical for his size and the season. Maybe I’m a bad shopper, maybe my child has erratic growth patterns. Whatever the issue, stocking up for the future has never been wildly successful for me.

Instead, I maintain a streamlined wardrobe and replace items only as needed so we don’t have a huge collection of unworn clothing. When a big season change is coming up I make a list of what he’ll need and start hunting second hand and clearance racks to fill in the gaps. If I’m looking for something that won’t get used much I will ask to borrow it from a friend.

Not surprisingly, I don’t save (many) clothes for a future child. There are a few factors at play – 1) we don’t know if or when we might have another child, 2) it’s a huge gamble hoping the birth season and genders coordinate, and 3) I sell his current clothing to fund the next season. Not all of it is in resale condition, but I get enough money back that it alleviates some pressure on our family budget. I have kept 8-10 items that have some sentimental value, but eventually if we don’t have a second child they will find a new home.

So when do I break the rules? (Because sometimes I do…) When I find a big ticket item significantly discounted , when I know I can resell without losing money, or when we’re close enough to needing it that it can still be returned for credit. Recently I found a snow suite for $20 (originally $120!). If anything it’s a size too big, but I do expect it to fit fine next winter. I know I can sell it and likely make money, but at the very least that particular store accepts returns for life if the item still has tags and receipt. I have a small bin for these items and revisit it regularly.

I would love to hear from other parents! Do you save clothes? Do you buy ahead? What system works for your budget and trying to maintain a more minimalist home?

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