Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner (unless they live in an apartment, then it’s ok)
Small space living with a baby is totally possible with a bit of focus and hard work, and some creative solutions. Here are my suggestions.
Step 1: Purge
In step one, you will make space by purging the stuff you don’t love or need. In the words of beloved Mari Kondo, keep only those things that “spark joy” or are truly necessary (like certain tax documents and leases.)
You will be surprised at how much room you can make with this method. I’m not suggesting you should say to your partner, “What do you love more, your empty Playstation boxes or your new baby?” But it’s not a bad mindset when you are on the fence about purging certain items. Be ruthless. Now is the time to get rid of that box of cds you digitized ten years ago and your collection of competitive bocce ball league shirts.
Now that your bundle of joy is approaching, it is time to cull those things that are clogging up your apartment and your life. This is a great time to call in a professional organizer, or a neutral friend – someone without attachments to the things in your home who can help you logically assess them.
A few tips:
· When you’ve selected things to purge, get them out quickly to the trash or donation - don't leave the piled up in your home.
· Don’t be too unrealistic about pre-pregnancy clothes. We all know not everything fit back then.
· Really focus your efforts but don't overdo it – chunks of 2-4 hours can be very productive!
Once you’ve made room, it’s time to find some clever ways to make room for baby furniture, clothes and accessories, and storage. Check out sites like apartmenttherapy.com and search for your specific trouble areas. Here are a few of my ideas.
Consider what you really need and then purchase wisely. Changing tables for exmple seem de rigeur, but wouldn’t it work fine to have a changing pad that you can lay on the bed or sofa? Similarly, consider whether you need a full crib, or if a bassinet with a smaller footprint would suffice. When it comes to strollers, the lighter and more compact, the better. See if you can find one that folds up and can be hung on the back of the door or in the entryway.
Consider whether you can repurpose certain spaces. Offices are the easy example – can you create a smaller workspace in the living room? Sometimes actual renovations make sense. For example, could you turn a closet into a baby room and store your clothes in an armoire? This is precisely what my parents did in our NYC apartment to my much coveted walk in closet when my brother was a few months old. While it seemed cruel at the time, it was definitely logical.
Finally, consider how you will be storing baby’s things so it does not look like a Babies’r’us truck dumped its contents in your home. Have a baby corner in the living room, where toys can be played with and stored. Dedicate one drawer of your dresser to baby clothes and diapers. Your baby will be enough of a (cute, precious) diva without having his own closet full of tiny hangers and singular outfits.
A few extra tips:
· Avoid stuff: Both gifts and tempting doodads can cause you to accumulate more than baby really needs. Resist the urge to buy everything for your new baby, and specifically ask friends and loved ones (ahem, future grandparents) to be realistic about the number and size of gifts, and amount of duplication of, say, tiny hand knit booties.
· Buy things in a timely manner – like toys that are age appropriate, purging younger toys and acquiring new ones as the baby grows.
· Talking to neighbors: Tell your neighbors about your new addition. Advance, apologetic warning to your nearest neighbors for the inevitable late night crying will go a long way to earn you some sympathy down the line, but more importantly, it is an entrée to discussing things like stroller parking. Would it be possible in your walk up building to store your stroller in a common area on the first level? Definitely worth finding out.