6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Let Minimalism Intimidate You

Minimalism has some baggage. People associate it with all kinds of things. Some believe that to be a minimalist you have to be a single, white, rich guy with only a backpack and a penchant for world travel. These assumptions make it pretty easy to write off minimalism as something that is simply unattainable and therefore not worth pursuing.

Even the assumption that minimalism is the goal and not the process or lens casts minimalism in the light of perfectionism – some distant goal that only the most righteous (or whatever) can achieve. Those who claim to be “a minimalist” are therefore under suspicion because, as we all know, no one is perfect.

Pointing fingers at other minimalists and telling them how they are not quite there because of x, y, or z totally sidesteps the value of minimalism.

Minimalism is actually quite accessible, beneficial, and personal and for the following six reasons, I hope that those who wish to pursue a more curated life don’t simply write it off as an elitist hobby.

#1: You Get to Make Your Own Rules

There is no magic number of items that fulfills everyone’s needs and heartfelt desires. What is crucial to have for some would simply be extravagance or clutter for others. We all have our own interests, talents, and life’s work. Almost everything we do requires appropriate props.

For example, as a writer, I need a computer, Internet connection, and books. Most instruments and art supplies, however, are wasted on me. I wouldn’t want a musician or visual artist to take my list of necessities to heart and deprive themselves of something that brings them joy and makes the world a more beautiful place.

Minimalism is about finding out what makes you tick and it allows you to focus on those things by pruning away those possessions, activities and thought patterns that you’ve collected over the years but only get in the way.

A concrete example is the rule I’ve adopted regarding kids’ books: if I don’t enjoy reading it, it gets donated (or immediately returned) to the library. Life is too short for multiple readings of unpleasant works. A minimalist who is not also a parent may never consider adopting such a rule. To each their own.

#2: Minimalism Can Help You Reach Your Goals

It is easy to spend our time spinning our wheels on useless or repetitive tasks and either lose focus or not recognize what our meaningful goals actually are. Even if we know what our goals are, we may find ourselves blocked from working toward them. Minimalism can help in both of these areas.

For example, I could easily follow my kids around and tidy all day long. Then, wake up and do the very same thing again. Not very productive or fulfilling. Instead, I’ve imposed strict limits on the amount of cleaning I’ll do each day so that I can focus on other things. This allows me to raise my children, not just to look after their messes. It also allows me to work and study and write and film and so on so that, at the end of the day, I’ve achieved something valuable to me that is far more lasting than a tidy room.

#3: Minimalism Isn’t Just for the Elite

I’ve heard the critique that minimalism is only for people with a lot of privilege. You know, those rich folks that can spend their free time decorating their mansions with white paint, green plants, and maybe one framed piece of artwork per room.

I believe this to be nothing more than a distancing mechanism. What does it matter if some people who practice minimalism are rich? Or poor? Snooty? Or down to Earth? It doesn’t bar the rest of us from benefiting from minimalism. We can all still examine our own situations in order to achieve more contentment and connection to what matters to us.

#4: Minimalism Can Make You Happier

I’ve heard that the secret to happiness isn’t to have what you want but to want what you have (a sort of trite observation attributed to multiple authors).

I’ve seen an immediate change in perspective, from feelings of lack to feelings of abundance, through practicing minimalism. Take my jeans, for example.

Yes, my jeans. I was culling my wardrobe when this insight first struck me. I was looking at all my bottoms (slacks, jeans, shorts, skirts) and noticing how few jeans I had. I had maybe 6 pairs, so I wasn’t running around naked, but I also wasn’t wearing many of them for one reason or another. (Like those jeans I was waiting to lose at least 5 pounds to fit into.)

I was putting together a capsule wardrobe and my somewhat arbitrary target was 33 items of clothes for the next three months. I had decided that in order to have a good balance, I needed about 4 bottoms. Already, this meant my 6 pairs were in excess of what I needed. I was no longer feeling lack. I needed to weed out two (or more if I wanted to wear something other than jeans) so those jeans that made me feel badly when I stepped on the bathroom scale? Out the door! How freeing!

I know this may seem a little shallow, talking about clothes and weight, but this was just the start of the insights that began to flow in. I realized that the media I consumed could help or hinder my feelings of contentment. That comparing myself to others instead of learning what was best for me could immediately affect my happiness. The list goes on. What a wonderful gift this change in perspective has been.

#5: Minimalism Can Save You Money

Minimalists still buy things, but we tend to focus our money in areas that really matter to us. This means buying a lot less on impulse.

It also means a greater awareness of where our money is going and re-evaluating our regular expenditures. For example, we might decide that by moving to a smaller home, we can save money to travel, if that is more important to us.

Another avenue for saving is that with fewer purchases overall being made, minimalists can spend a little extra money on quality things that last longer. When items last longer, replacements aren’t as big a drain on resources.

Finally, when minimalists cull their extra clutter, they can sell those things that no longer bring happiness and make some money at the same time.

#6: Minimalism Can Help Save the World

I’m an ambitious person. One of my life’s goals is literally to: “help save the world”. Why is a sustainability writer and environmentalist so interested in minimalism?

I believe that the adoption of minimalism is the simplest way to reduce our overall impact on the planet.

Minimalists are more likely to use less electricity, less fuel, less water, less natural resources, and so on.

No matter what choices a person faces, by becoming more conscious of our life’s direction and decisions, and by consuming less overall, we can’t fail to reduce our negative impacts and to support our positive impact.

Until next time, keep living lightly!

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Minimalist Wardrobes For Boys (Ages 2-5)

Minimalist wardrobes for adult women have become very trendy. But I’m frankly surprised to see this limited range. Everyone could benefit from a curated and thought-filled wardrobe.

Young boys wouldn’t be stuck in finicky pants when potty-training. They would wear clothes in good repair and sized for them. It would be easy for them to pick out their own combinations and dress themselves well. The independence they would get in return for the preparation put in would go a long way.

Parents would benefit from the confidence that their kid has enough clothes and would not be driven to shop due to a feeling or assumption of lack. When shopping is necessary, they would know exactly what they were looking for and this technique would allow them to hone in on what styles, sizes, shapes, (etc.) they prefer for their kid’s clothes.

Turning my sons’ wardrobes into minimalist capsules has been an eye opener. I used to rush off to buy more clothes for them whenever I worried they had nothing to wear. These trips were unorganized and I tended to return with more shirts when I needed new pants or a new jacket when they really needed socks. And I was only dimly aware of what made for a good pair of pants. Obviously, this approach was an unsustainable practice. Now, I feel unburdened and certain of exactly what they have.

Special Considerations For This Age Group

  • Unless you’re very lucky in hand-me-downs (or a shop-a-holic), you will probably never need to “cull” a young boy’s wardrobe. This is because they grow out of sizes or damage their clothes so fast that the collection is pretty self-limiting.
  • I’ve found it necessary to look in the reverse direction. How many clothes do I need to get through a week of regular activity?
  • Your number needs to accommodate “accidents” as kids are generally potty training in these years.
  • If your kid attends a pre-school or day care, the institution may require a small stash in addition to the wardrobe. Don’t count these additions because you may not see them for weeks or months at a time.

Fall/Winter Capsule for 2017 (2-5 year old boy)

I’m providing the list I use to keep my boys stocked as inspiration only. Your particular circumstances will shape your need. Climate, family activities, religious gear, and how often you do their laundry are a few factors that may alter your list.
Since I do diaper laundry (3x/week), I can throw any “accident” pants and underwear into the next batch of diapers. This list could easily support a once-per-week laundry schedule.

Coats / Jackets:

  • Rain, light weight jacket
  • Winter coat

Hats:

  • Sun hat / baseball cap
  • Winter hat

Snow Gear:

  • Snow pants
  • Snow gloves

Shoes:

  • Snow boots
  • Athletic shoes
  • “Nice” shoes

“Nice” Clothes:

  • 2 sweaters / hoodies
  • 5 long-sleeved shirts
  • 1-2 plain layering long-sleeved shirts
  • 5 short-sleeved shirts
  • 5 pairs of pants
  • 5-7 pairs of “nice” socks

“Play” Clothes:

  • 5 long-sleeved “play” shirts
  • 5 short-sleeved “play” shirts
  • 5 pairs of “play” pants
  • 4-7 pairs of PJs
  • 5-7 pairs of “play” socks

Emergency / Diaper Bag (*Double if attending day care or preschool) :

  • 1 pair of pants
  • 1 short-sleeved shirt
  • 1 pair of socks

Potty:

This is the biggest difference between kids from this age group and their younger and older counterparts. It is also highly individual. The following is my advice:

  1. I recommend keeping finicky pants and coveralls to a minimum if you keep any at all. I prefer to have simple elastic waist bands at this age.
  1. Get underwear with a little extra padding for potty training sessions. I have five pairs of these, but that might just be the bare minimum. I also keep normal underwear to supplement.
  1. Keep some diapers or pull ups (whether cloth or disposable) on hand for the night, for complicated days out, and for “off” time.
  1. I tend to start potty training at home only and keep diapers for outside the home and at bed time. This changes as we build the habit.
  1. Eventually, putting a kid in a diaper during the day time can work against potty training so this will have to be played by ear.

I believe it is important for kids to have some “play” clothes so that they can get completely absorbed in an activity and get messy without driving me crazy.

On My Loose Use of “Minimal”

I know this list doesn’t seem extremely “minimal”, but unlike adults, kids don’t often reuse laundry between washes (the clothes get really dirty) and doing their laundry multiple times a week can be stressful. I feel that this number strikes a nice balance.

 

Until Next Time, Happy Parenting!

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Minimalist Wardrobe for the School-Aged Boy

I’m always a little startled to see that capsule wardrobes haven’t spread much beyond the scope of adult women’s closets. This wardrobe solution is an extremely useful tool.

A capsule wardrobe has specific benefits for school-aged children:

  1. As tops and bottoms are bought with the collection in mind, any combination a kid comes up with won’t garner outfits of questionable taste. That is, it gives the child autonomy and a good chance for success each morning.
  2. Designing a wardrobe can reassure the parents that the child has enough clothing for the season. The planning stage also lets parents know where the gaps are which can lead to a smarter shopping list.
  3. In consciously designing a wardrobe, parents can become knowledgeable about what they’re looking for in a garment. For example, I learned that elastic waist bands (without any finicky parts) are an excellent feature for pants when it comes to small children.
  4. Culling the closet keeps kids from arriving at school wearing clothes that are too small or too damaged.

My son will be entering Kindergarten this fall and it falls to me to make sure he’ll have something to wear each morning. The following is a plan that will probably work until he becomes more interested in taking over his own closet or he develops his personal fashion sense.

Winter/Fall Capsule

 

IMG_1065

Hanging: Backpack, snow pants, rain jacket, winter coat, sweater, 5 long-sleeved shirts, 5 short-sleeved shirts, 5 pairs of pants, baseball cap and winter hat; Floor: “Emergency/Accident” Kits, play clothes, PJs, winter boots, athletic shoes, “nicer” shoes, “nicer” socks and under wear, and knit gloves

I’ve included my elder son’s fall/winter 2017 capsule as a guideline only. Individual characteristics, such as climate, religion, family activities and laundry schedule will impact the make-up of another kid’s closet.

Shoes:

  • athletic shoes
  • winter boots
  • “nicer” shoes

Misc.:

  • backpack

Hats:

  • sun hat / baseball cap
  • winter hat

Coats/Jackets:

  • Light weight rain jacket
  • Heavy weight winter coat

Snow Gear:

  • snow pants
  • snow gloves

School Clothes:

  • 2 sweaters/jumpers/hoodies
  • 5 long-sleeved shirts
  • 1-2 plain long-sleeved shirts (for layering with short-sleeves)
  • 5 short-sleeved shirts
  • 5 pairs of pants (with elastic, simple waist bands)
  • 5 pairs socks (at least)
  • 5 pairs underwear (at least)

Emergency Clothes:

  • For school:
    • 1 pair of pants
    • 1 t-shirt
    • 1 pair of underwear
    • 1 pair of socks
  • For diaper bag or car (when out and about):
    • 1 pair of pants
    • 1 t-shirt
    • 1 pair of underwear
    • 1 pair of socks

Home:

  • 4 sets of Pjs (minimum)
  • 3-7 pairs of socks
  • 3-7 pairs underwear
  • 3-7 pairs “play” pants
  • 3-7 pairs “play” shirts

I believe strongly in the concept of “play” clothes for younger children. The reason is that having clothes that they can really get messy in allows for more fun and less parental anxiety. I usually down grade school clothes that get damaged.

I don’t normally need to cull the number of play clothes my son owns. As he is still rapidly growing, I feel that he outgrows them too quickly for them to become too numerous.

I also don’t cull an item until I have found it’s replacement. For example, we will need to get my son a new pair of snow pants, but until we’ve gotten it, his old one remains in the closet (He could still be stuffed into it!).

If you have a school-aged kid, have you though about setting him or her up with a capsule wardrobe? What would be your essentials? How might you change it up for a girl? Let me know in the comments below and until next time,

Happy Parenting!

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Cat Food: A Lesson in Minimalism

My cat began avoiding her dried food. I was worried, so I bought one of those multi-packs of cans, a three pack of lids to house left-overs in, and I collected a few pieces of plastic cutlery with which to scoop out the meaty mess.

My cat was quite pleased with the addition of wet food to her diet.

While I was glad she was eating, I quickly grew to hate the additional work. As a long time vegetarian, I liked the dried kibble because I could ignore the more visceral proof that my roommate was a meat-eater.

But of course, I would now have to keep the slop as hygienic as possible. I chose to spray the cans with the diaper sprayer attached to my toilet and wash her dishes in the bathroom sink. Anything to keep my food surfaces from contamination.

Enter Minimalism

This is where minimalism enters our story. When I bought the cat can lids, they only came in a three pack and I also had multiple pieces of plastic cutlery. The facts that I hated the chore and that I had extra pieces meant that I could be lazier about cleaning. I would wait until my three lids ran out before washing her dishes. And, after three to six days, those dishes were worse than unpleasant.

I was washing the dishes and cussing myself out for my laziness when my husband pointed out that I simply had too many dishes and this was the root of my problem.

My husband, for all his playful love of fantasy, also has the firmest grip on reality that I’ve known. Of course! Why didn’t I think of this?

I promptly stored the other lids and cutlery upstairs in her carrier so that they wouldn’t be easily accessible.

Now, every time she goes through a can, I wash her dishes immediately while they are still fresh. There’s no caked on mess. Her dishes are cleaned more regularly but more easily. There’s less to keep track of in our living space.

Local to Global Thinking

So, yes, that is the story of my cat’s wet food gear, but it is also more than that. I mean, how many times have I thought that having more of something would make things simpler when, in fact, the situation becomes harder, more tedious, too cluttered instead?

I’m not saying that one is the perfect number for everything. One pair of underwear, for example, might be beyond my comfort zone and might force more frequent laundry washes. But there probably is an ideal number for most things in my life. My magic numbers will not be the same as other people’s and it may not even be the same throughout my life, but paring back and experimenting with less can be a real game changer.

Until next time, live lightly!

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The Unexpected Benefits of Minimalism

The benefits of minimalism can seem pretty straightforward: saving money, making cleaning easier, uncluttered spaces, and having a conversation stopper as a “hobby”.

OK, so the last one is a bit of a stretch, but could save you from a boring conversation with a neighbor.

I mean, minimalism seems so simple. The uninitiated might wonder why minimalists still have anything to say about it. Plus, minimalism can seem a little … well, pretentious. Those haughty minimalists seem to have things all figured out in their large, empty spaces and maybe they’re judging us for having too much or consuming too much. Maybe.

At first, I just wanted more breathing room from all the stuff I had collected in my adult life and to make moving day easier on my friends and family. I thought minimalism was all about stuff; how much you owned and how much you could get rid of. I was confused as to why this topic received so much online attention, especially in our wildly consumer-driven society.

Eight months have passed. I have fewer items in my home, which is much less cluttered and easier to clean, but nowhere near as sparse as an extreme minimalist’s home (if they even still have a permanent one). I’m not any less a minimalist than they are.

That’s right: because minimalism is a process not a destination. Anyone employing the tools of minimalism is a minimalist. And it is precisely the tools and the process that hold the secret to the unexpected benefits of minimalism.

Benefit #1: Confidence-Building and Avoidance of Decision Fatigue

Making decisions about what things to keep and what to lose, especially when done regularly, increases confidence in your abilities to make good decisions. Minimalism allows you to test your decision-making skills and to see the results on your life. Practice makes perfect.

The practice of minimalism also helps guard against “decision fatigue” – the idea that we only have so many decisions to make in our day before we feel worn out. It may seem counter-intuitive, especially in light of my “practice makes perfect” claim above, but by addressing and then weeding out those unnecessary decisions we make every day, we can focus on more productive decisions going forward.

A prime example is a minimalist wardrobe or uniform that eliminates unnecessary decisions made every day while getting dressed. There is really no need to waste our decision-making power before the day begins in earnest.

Benefit #2: Self-Awareness

When you spend conscious time evaluating your needs, wants, values, and personal style, you learn what feeds you and what drains you in your life. This allows you to confront self-delusion and bring about the changes you’d like to see.

A prime example is when you hold onto the objects of a “hobby” you think you value but haven’t made time for in years. If you really valued it, you’d make the time. But now that you recognize that this hobby doesn’t bring a spark into your life, you’re free to let it go. Release the guilt for not practicing that instrument, for example, and to find something that lights your fire instead.

Benefit #3: Conscious Life Design and Priority Assessment

So much of our lives are lived on auto-pilot. Minimalism is all about bringing awareness to one’s life. It helps you to understand your values and priorities, as I touched on above, in coming to better self-awareness.

But the benefit doesn’t stop at self-awareness because when you understand your priorities, you can better chart your daily lifestyle to be that much more fulfilling and productive.

This might mean that your life’s direction gets re-evaluated, leading to drastic change: quitting your job, moving or divorce from an unfulfilling marriage. It could also manifest as a lot of small tweaks that add up to something great.

What is in your life that doesn’t have to be? Bad habits? Time wasters? Toxic relationships? What could you use more of? Productive habits? Support? Knowledge of this or that topic? Greater skill?

Benefit #4: Feeling Abundant

Media impresses upon us a feeling of lack. Often a lack we never knew we had. A lack for specific consumer gadgets (such as in a commercial) or a dissatisfaction with our life’s situation. Perhaps we feel loss for what “might have been” when we watch gorgeous actors and actresses trot across the screen in beautiful clothes. The distortion can be especially cutting when these actors are portraying the “average” American on sets that resemble mansions.

We end up in the rat race, keeping up with the Jones’, wanting more while feeling as though we have less and less.

Minimalism frees a person from this, or at least allows us to see the scam for what it is, even if we’re not entirely freed. We have to work on the freeing.

Through the process of minimalism, we understand that our needs are in fact very finite and smaller than we ever imagined. We understand that our wants are flexible and can be measured on a scale that we choose.

I enjoy watching videos and reading blogs by extreme minimalists, our own celebrities. They provide a sort of inspiration in direct contrast to the Hollywood actress. They teach me to scale down.

In scaling down, we can set our own caps and limits, ones meaningful and personal to us, the realization that we mostly live in surplus sinks in.

Benefit #5: Leaving Less for More Abundant Generations

When we die, our possessions stay. That’s right, the dirty pizza boxes, the unpaid bills, along with the charming mementos no one really knows what to do with. The folks you leave behind will undoubtedly get to know a lot about you.

But what if instead of leaving behind junk no one needs, you left more trees in the forests? More clean air and more clean water and less trash in landfills? Less mess? A smaller footprint for future generations to tackle?

My chief interest in minimalism has always been the oft overlooked lighter impact that living simply has on the planet we live on.

The Grand Secret of Minimalism…

…is that it is about more than the stuff we choose to keep or toss. Because what we value today may not be the same things we value a year from now. Allowing for the process of minimalism can be quite the radical journey.

Until next time, keep that talk walking!

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Enough

The minimalist and Zero Waste movements intersect from the start. Béa Johnson, in her book: The Zero Waste Home, introduces the hierarchy of Zero Waste, known as the 5 R’s. The first two: “Refuse what you do not need” and “Reduce what you do need”, are deceptively simple.

But what is need?

We would all agree that we need food to survive, but do we “need” the deluxe food processor or blender? If food goes bad in our fridge week after week, did we “need” it after all? And that handful of chips I had with lunch. Did I “need” that?

The reason that Béa didn’t just write “refuse what you do not need or want” is that wants are such a slippery target. I think we’ve all experienced this at some point. You go into a store to buy something specific, but then you see all sorts of beautiful things around you, a desire you didn’t have before is awakened. Suddenly, you’re less content and left wanting more.

Needs are finite and wants can be infinite. So do we just ignore all of our wants and live in tents, cooking over a fire, what we’ve foraged from the woods?

As much as I adore camping, I don’t think this is the answer. There are so many wonders that humans bring to this world when we’re not over-consumed by acts of survival. Along with camping, I’m also a big fan of the Internet.

So, how do we go about managing our wants so that they don’t overwhelm us?

Step 1: Determine Your Vision

The most important step in determining your “enough” will be to set goals for yourself. Do you want to be a nomad? Do you want to live out of a van or in a tiny home? Do you want a chic, white walled studio apartment decorated with green plants and little else? Or are your goals a little more conventional? Maybe, like me, you’d just like to keep a clean, clutter free home that reduces the family’s environmental impact. Maybe you’d like to live with less stress and less debt. There are all kinds of minimalists. What sort do you want to be?

Does the media you consume support or detract from your goals? I like to watch YouTube videos by extreme minimalists for inspiration about how little I actually need. It still creates a desire to emulate, just as watching a show where beautiful actresses prance around in expensive clothes and in expensive homes portraying the average American, but the result of emulation is healthier for me.

Step 2: Set Your Limits

I can’t sing the praises of limits enough, it seems. I’ve experienced immediate transformation of mindset just by pinning a maximum number or by allotting a certain space for things. When I had no magic numbers for my clothes, my satisfaction went up and down with my boredom or the proximity to laundry day. As soon as I told myself that four bottoms were enough for a season, I had to pick and choose from my favorites. I no longer felt deprived but instead over-abundant.

Step 3: Avoid Your Triggers

Children are often overwhelmed with their wants. Take a kid to the proverbial candy store, or, perhaps a toy store. See what happens.

Some parents will choose to avoid the situation in the first place: don’t take the kids to the toy or candy stores, don’t bake cookies if they’re not on the menu. Get upset with the school district when they serve chocolate milk and pizza with a side of chips for lunch.

This is because young children are under-developed in their decision making skills. They frequently aren’t able to set aside immediate gratification in order to reach more important goals. This is why kid’s toothpaste is sweetened and kid vitamins resemble candy.

The truth is, adults aren’t really that much better. Certainly, we have more life experience and can see that our immediate gratification might not be in our best interest. We can take our morning pill that might be tough to swallow. That said, our ability to parent ourselves judiciously is finite. A few good decisions here or there are easily offset by allowances we give ourselves as reward for making good decisions.

Since our good decisions are limited, it’s best not to overwhelm ourselves with what is often referred to as “decision fatigue”.

Do you always overspend at the mall? Maybe trade mall shopping for going to see a movie or taking a hike instead.

I have the guilty habit of online shopping on pay day. I love the satisfaction of picking just the right things out and then waiting eagerly for the mail to come. When it gets here, it’s a nice little high. Admitting you have a problem, I hear, is the first step.

Your Homework

Now, get out a pen and a notebook. Write down everything you own. Every item in every drawer.

What’s that? Is the idea ludicrous to you? You, like me, wouldn’t consider wasting your time in this way? Chances are, then, that you have “enough” stuff. Maybe, if you were especially terrified by the sound of this assignment, you have more than enough.

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A Minimalist Wardrobe for Baby (0-3 Months)

Most conventional weekly pregnancy updates contain a to-do list telling the expectant parents to buy this or that each week. New parents hope to have a baby shower to help curtail the costs of the expensive and expansive baby gear. By the time the baby is born, s/he already has more belongings than the average medieval king.

This is my third go at it. At first we wanted two children, so I felt generous in gifting away my baby gear to friends and family with more urgent need. What these two factors mean is that I’m starting from scratch with a whole lot more parenting wisdom than I once had.

Special Considerations for This Age Group (0-3 months)

  • A young baby does a lot of sleeping with few transition times, so clothing should be comfortable to sleep in. No one wants to wake up baby to put PJs on.
  • Unless you’re very lucky in hand-me-downs (or a shop-a-holic), you will probably never need to “cull” a baby’s wardrobe (that is, outside of the transitions between sizes). This is because they grow out of sizes or damage their clothes so fast that the collection is pretty self-limiting.
  • Ease of nighttime changing should be a real priority. Waking up to feed and change a baby is exhausting enough without dealing with finicky clothing.
  • Footies are especially helpful as babies, with no control of their limbs, still manage to kick off shoes and socks which are much too difficult to put on those tiny, delicate limbs in the first place.
  • Hats and mittens for indoor use aren’t mere accessories. Many young babies have long sharp fingernails and can easily gouge their faces. They also often have bald heads which lead to heat loss.

My List of Essentials

  • 1 outdoor car seat / travel suit. These preferably have built in hand and feet coverings, a hood and a crotch so that you can fasten a car seat whilst the baby is snug inside. This is especially essential for winter babies.
  • 3 pair of indoor mittens. Light weight to prevent scratching. Baby socks can substitute for these.
  • 3 indoor hats. To keep that big bald head warm. They don’t tend to get really dirty and can be reused between washes.
  • 7-10 onesies. These are those typically white body suits that snap together over the diaper and are usually used as an infant undergarment. Short-sleeved lasts longer, but if you intend to use them as actual shirts, long sleeves are great for winter babies or kids with eczema.
  • 7-11 sleep and play body suits. I prefer ones that zip and have feet attached. I usually like to have about 7 thinner ones and 3-4 warmer/thicker ones for very cool days or for night wear.
IMG_1037

3 scratch gloves, 3 hats, 4 warmer fleece sleep and play suits, 1 warm travel suit, 7 zippered lighter-weight cotton sleep and play suits, 9 short-sleeved onesies (in a stack), 1 onesie spread out for illustrative purposes

That’s it! I know it probably seems like a small number of items, but babies don’t do a whole lot except for growing.

This is a great base to have, but you’ll probably get gifts from family and friends to supplement these items and to change things up. There certainly are so many cute outfits that you may get (and not want to use on a regular basis due to finicky parts). Pieces with sweaters and pants and buttons in weird locations.

All About Sizes

For the uninitiated, baby sizes are really confusing. For the first year, a baby could go through as many as 6 sizes (preemie, newborn, 0-3 month, 3-6 month, 6-9 month, 9-12 month). Thankfully, this speed of growth slows down after all that! Some garments will be marked with a single month (6 month, 9 month and 12 months are common) and some garments, such as outdoor suits and sleep sacks, are designed to hit a large range of sizes (example: 0-9 months).

Like the Pirate’s Code, sizes are more like “guidelines”, though. Different companies may use a different scale and a kid could be stuffed into the same clothing item for a large span of time, especially when short sleeves are used.

My babies have historically been on the large side of things. For this reason, I consider 0-3 to be the perfect first size for my family. This is where I invest in my first capsule wardrobe.

Even though I don’t choose to work a complete newborn-sized capsule, I do keep clothes of this size on hand for the brief time my kids fit into them. I usually have a few outfits (4-8) tucked away in the drawer and hospital bag.

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A cube of newborn-sized gender neutral clothing. It contains scratch mits, a hat, a few onesies, a few outfits, and some body suits. Below the cube is pictured the coming home outfits for my hospital bag – one for a boy and one for a girl, just in case.

When asked which sizes I want from friends and family, I usually ask for size 6 month and up. The reason being is that enthusiasm over a baby wanes and once kids start eating solids (usually around 6 months), hand-me-downs and stocks in used clothing stores dwindle due to so many garments being ruined by babies past.

Gender Talk

In the past, I tried to get my first sizes (newborn and 0-3 month) in gender neutral prints so that if there is a surprise in the delivery room, I wasn’t unprepared. It was also more economical and eco-friendly as I was planning for multiple kids.

As this is our last kid, and we’re pretty sure that we’re having a girl, I didn’t stick as much to my rules about gender neutrality as I did for my older kids. I’ve decided to live up having a little girl to clothe.
Additional Items We Chose to Have:

Above, I gave my absolute essential items. However, I’ve included a few additional items in my own baby’s capsule that may be useful or inspirational for other parents.

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4 head bands, 4 pairs of soft white socks, 1 sweater, 4 long-sleeved onesies, 4 pairs of pants, 1 Halloween costume, 2 more finicky sleep and play suits, 2 jean dresses for photos

  • 4 pairs of white fluffy socks (These could be used as extra scratch mittens or to keep little toes warm in the few footless outfits we have.)
  • 4 head bands (This is baby girl specific)
  • 4 pairs of plain pants (Shirts frequently come with prints so this eases putting outfits together)
  • 4 long-sleeved onesies for outfits (I skip out on regular shirts that don’t snap in the crotch because they tend to ride up and expose baby bellies to the cold.)
  • 1 sweater
  • 5 “special” outfits (For upcoming holidays, pictures, costumes, etc. I have a Halloween costume, two cute body suits, and two jeans dresses that I couldn’t resist.)

 

I hope this knowledge from one parent to another is valuable and may your own little minimalist be comfortable and happy.

Happy Parenting With Mother Earth in Mind!

 

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