The “Lightening” is Hard

When you’ve made the decision that you’re all done having kids, when did you get rid of your baby clothes?

And the gear — ALL THE GEAR — that goes with all things baby — bottles, brushes, nursing stuff, the large items like swings, play mats and highchairs.  It’s all hard.  I gather, sort, reminisce, gather more, reminisce again, then, after hours of agony, I actually decide what stays and what goes.  The only thing that keeps me going is: 1. IT’S OUT OF MY HOUSE.  We already have too much stuff in our house; 2. Another family is going to experience the same great joy.

I regret feeling like I needed all new baby stuff when C came along.  I wish I would have known the following:

  1. Some babies hate swings (if your either of my kids, every swing on the market)
  2. Along the same lines, just because a swing is $200 doesn’t mean your baby’s going to give a damn
  3. You’ll never use the boppy pillow for nursing
  4. You’ll change your baby on the changing table approximately 5 times
  5. Newborn babies grow out of their clothes at an alarming rate
  6. You don’t need to change your life around and make everything baby-centered.  They’re babies, after all.  (And enjoy having your house look like a grown up house because that doesn’t last long once they become toddlers)

Hindsight is 20/20.  When B came along, I was so relieved to have so many friends donate their baby’s clothes, and I purchased second-hand swings and larger stuff online.  I just, in general, felt more comfortable with B fitting into our life rather than the other way around.  Plus, I understood more acutely just how fast babies grow out of everything.  It’s easier with another child though.  For so many reasons, you have no choice.  You figure it out.

I’ve done some seriously extensive research on who to donate stuff to in the greater Washington, DC area.  I have beef with Goodwill (that’s yet another post for a later time), and honestly, I don’t want my baby’s clothes to be sold to people who can afford to buy their baby clothes.  I also didn’t want to drop off clothes into a bin on the side of the road because some of those charities aren’t so charitable AND it just seems so impersonal.  After looking up some of these charities on Charity Navigator, (and yes, I even looked at a variety of charity-checking websites, including their methodology used, before deciding to trust reviews from Charity Navigator…did i mention I was thorough?), so many of these charities use the funds to cover admin fees (i.e., salaries).   I also discovered the majority of our local charities in the greater Washington, DC area aren’t on Charity Navigator because they don’t bring in enough money for the site to track, but I like helping out my own community.  Here’s what I came up with through perusing their websites, talking with friends, and my own personal experience:

1. A Wider Circle (located in Silver Spring, MD)

Directly from their website:

The mission of A Wider Circle is simple: to help one individual and one family after another to rise out of poverty. We work in partnership with those we serve and with those seeking to help to ensure that every child and adult has the chance to succeed and the opportunity to live well.
A Wider Circle is awesome to work with.  They’re super friendly.  Scheduling a pick-up is easy peasy.  They don’t sell the goods.  They donate the goods directly to the families they work with.  They are also one of the few organizations that accept mattresses, box springs and beds.  In fact, they REALLY need beds, so if you’re looking for somewhere awesome to donate beds, furniture, baby items, etc., this would be an excellent option.

2. National Center for Children and Families (located in Bethesda, MD)

Directly from their website:

Founded in 1915 as an orphanage in the District of Columbia, NCCF is a private, nonprofit child and family welfare agency with a commitment to serving poor, disadvantaged, abused, neglected and/or abandoned children, youth, and their families.

Current program services include emergency shelters and transitional housing for homeless families, a high-intensity therapeutic group home, therapeutic and traditional foster care and adoption, independent living for youth transitioning to adulthood, teen parent services, and community-based prevention services that promote academic achievement, parental involvement, economic and vocational stability, and healthy families. Our programs have become social service models, redefining both NCCF’s reputation and the agency’s position in the human service continuum in the Washington Metropolitan Region.

I haven’t scheduled a pick-up with NCCF yet, but I have dropped off smaller items at their Greentree shelter.  They need children’s gear (including diapers!) — so this is a great option if you want stuff out of your house…and fast!

3. Interfaith Works (Rockville, MD)

From their website:

Interfaith Works, founded in 1972, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency and a non-sectarian interfaith coalition of more than 165 affiliated congregations of diverse faiths, working together to meet the needs of the poor and homeless in Montgomery County, Md.

Our trained, professional staff members work with individuals and families in crisis to help equip them to lift themselves from poverty and homelessness through prevention, stabilization and empowerment programs. 

Secret confession: I haven’t actually donated anything here, but I hear it’s a great place to give locally in Montgomery County.

Back to my original question: How do you decide what to get rid of and what to keep?  What do you do with all of your baby gear you want to get rid of?

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