How do you prepare for a baby when all the bedrooms are occupied and your kids already have too much stuff? First, you procrastinate by pretending that you have plenty of time. After a few months, start asking friends and family if they have any baby stuff they were planning to get rid of anyway. Finally, a month before the due date, start to completely panic.
Spend a Thursday night touring the new birthing center of the hospital. Follow that up with a Friday night shopping spree when you're tired and your decision making abilities are severely impaired. Fill the weekend by clearing out a room for the baby by moving your youngest son in to share a room with his messy older brother. Don't worry about finishing it all that weekend. Hopefully you have a couple more weeks before the baby comes.
Continue spending all your free time cleaning, rearranging, and buying the last few things you need while hoping the baby doesn’t come early. I forgot how much stuff babies come with!
Strangely, one of the last things we bought was a simple diaper bag. We were being indecisive because with our first three kids, we didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl so most of the baby stuff was neutral. This time, we know it’s a girl so we wanted a diaper bag that looked like it was for a little girl. They’re not as easy to find as we thought.
The generosity of friends and family made all this possible. Many people gave us gift cards for the above mentioned shopping spree, and/or bought something for the baby. We also received hand-me-down clothes, shoes, toys, etc. Some friends were even generous enough to come over and help us sort through all the clothes.
Here we are less than two weeks from the due date though and we’re ready enough. The car seat is sitting in the house and each car has a base installed for it to snap into. The crib is set up with bedding and she has clean clothes in the dresser and closet. While it was a surprise to find out we were having a baby at our age, we are blessed to have so many generous friends and family members to help us out.
She'll be here before we know it and I'm sure we'll find out there's something we forgot to have on hand. Now, if we could only decide on her name.
I realized I have a weakness for thrift stores. It's more of a love/hate relationship. I love that I can take almost anything that I want to get rid of to a thrift store and donate it. They resell it and make money. I get clutter out of my house and someone else gets cheap stuff. Win-win-win. High-fives all around.
Yet, I hate the temptation of buying the cheap stuff. I can rationalize it by telling myself that's how the thrift store makes money. I prefer thrift stores for local non-profit organizations like Habitat for Humanity or Kiwanis. I know (or at least hope) that if I buy something, they will use the money to help someone local who is in need.
With the baby on the way, we are moving our youngest son into his older brother's bedroom. This presents a lot of challenges. One of them is that they need at least one dresser for their room, so we headed to the two thrift stores mentioned above. At the first, we found a couple of dressers that were possibilities but nothing jumped out at us. But, I can never stay on track when I go in those stores. I had to wander around until I saw the whole place. I checked out the sports equipment, the kitchen supplies, furniture, and everything else. We finally decided to check the other thrift store and then decide.
The second store was much bigger but the dressers were terrible. They were beat up and in some cases outright damaged but still priced at $40 to $50. We knew none of them would do. Again though, I had to wander through the whole place but this one had more variety. I almost bought a Foosball table and saw a pile of used speakers that I'm sure I could use somewhere. I managed to hold back. In hindsight, I think the only reason I didn't buy anything was because my wife was with me and I expected she would give me a hard time. "Mr. declutter can't resist a bargain at a thrift store" I kept hearing in my head.
In the end, we managed to walk out of both thrift stores that day without buying anything. Instead we purchased two of those two-drawer organizers that you have to assemble. The fun part of that was that the boys put them together without any help. I answered a couple questions but that was it.
I'm not saying you should stay out of thrift stores, but the way to declutter your house is to gather up what you want to donate, take it to a thrift store and then leave. Don't go inside unless you have a very specific thing you are looking for. If you have trouble resisting the bargains and keep wandering off course, then bring moral support with you. My wife probably wouldn't have said anything to me if I bought something at the thrift stores. Thinking she might, though, helped keep me from buying things I don't need.
I have been reading more about happiness lately. This is because I think happiness is important and because this year, like many years, I often feel pretty unhappy as Christmas rolls around.
Christmas should be something to look forward to but instead I find myself getting angry about the commercialization and greed surrounding the holiday. I also think about the year's end approaching and all the things I meant to accomplish but didn't. Finally, my birthday squeezes right in between those two just to add another number to my age.
This is why I have been reading up on happiness. I started reading Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin and also started reading her blog at https://gretchenrubin.com/blog/. Two things I have learned I need to focus on are to enjoy those small but important moments as they are happening and to think more about the positives.
Instead of getting upset about the things I HAVEN'T accomplished this year I'm trying to list the things I DID accomplish.
Instead of thinking about the commercialization of Christmas and the end of the year, I think about how fortunate I am to have all the things I need while being surrounded by friends and family. I also remind myself that we are in the middle of Advent in the Church, which is actually the beginning of the liturgical year, not the end.
Finally, I'm looking forward to our fourth child on the way very soon. I feel way too old for this but it will be fun. I'm always up for a challenge. I hope that I can continue to learn more about happiness and enjoy every small moment that I probably was too busy or stressed out to even think about with my other kids.
This morning I am hanging out at O'Hare airport in Chicago on a four hour layover to visit my family. I had only a few hours of sleep and am missing out on some activities with my wife and kids. But, I enjoyed an amazing sunrise (photo above) and get to spend some quiet time alone. It's nice to occasionally not be responsible for anyone but yourself. I am enjoying the moment.
I guess I can stop saying bah humbug for a little while.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2017