Saturday, March 9, 2013

Baby in A Small Space: Toy Minimalism

I've been searching the internet for guidance on living with a baby in a small space. I'm not so concerned with the first year. It's after that which concerns me most.

I grew up always having my own room. When I lived in Albany, NY my room was larger than many apartment bedrooms. I had an insane amount of toys, games, puzzles, and crafts. I blame this in part on being an only child for a good portion of my childhood as well as all my doting relatives. Believe me, I'm not complaining in the least.

My childhood was rich. Full of engaging activities and toys, my mind was stimulated in a variety of ways. I was able to create worlds that spanned my entire room, weave carpets, model clay, paint, draw, and do science experiments. I also made my share of forts.

Of course my child's experience will be different. While I don't expect to live in our loft forever, it does require creative thinking about space usage. This means fewer toys and more multi-tasking gear.

Babies only need a few things:
1. Food
2. A place to sleep
3. Diapers
4. Clothes
5. Love

These are the absolute essentials. A close addition to this list would be a carseat, but that's only if you intend to take your child in a car ever (most of us fit into this category). A baby carrier could also make this list.

This list of essentials doesn't really take up much space. My concern are the toys and the books which could overtake our home in a short time. I read about all these moms who couldn't *live* without their exersaucer/playmat/swing/bouncer and I cringe. My stomach clenches with anxiety because we really don't have space for something so bulky and preposterous. Simultaneously, I feel like I am somehow denying my child some sort of heightened stimulation by not providing such a thing - like maybe I'm a bad parent for living in a small space.

My redemption comes when I think about my own excitement for everyday items as a toddler - boxes, plastic food storage containers, pans, blankets, rocks, sticks, leaves, and flowers. I get excited about making different colors of salt dough or making our own finger paint or playing in the sand at the beach or sock puppets out of buttons and fabric scraps.  I get excited about museums and history books that could lead to hand's on activities. I fantasize about tanagrams and fractal patterns and math manipulatives. I dream about wooden blocks.

I don't know what our living situation will be like in 5 years, or even 2. My books may do so well, I won't even need to entertain space saving questions long term (though I like the idea of less clutter).  In the mean time however, I comfort myself with my plan for toy minimalism.

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