I'm Fine With Getting Rid of My Kids' Baby Stuff — But I Wasn't Prepared to Say Goodbye to Their Books

I consider myself reasonably sentimental — I’m a mom, after all. And all moms know that familiar tug at your heartstrings when you come across old artwork made by little hands, or a teeny-tiny pair of PJs that haven’t fit your kid in years. It comes with the territory.

The non-mom facet of my personality, however, has a huge dislike for clutter. I’m no Marie Kondo, but nothing soothes me like a well-organized space. And as sentimental as I can be sometimes, the part of me that hates clutter always wins out in the end, so I’m fairly ruthless when it comes to getting rid of the stuff my kids no longer need.

Sure, it was a little difficult to donate the baby carrier that I schlepped all four of my kids around in endlessly when they were infants, strapped to my chest while I cooked and worked and cared for toddler siblings. And I did keep a few especially meaningful things, like the little Carter’s onesie with the frog on it that my grandma brought my son on her last visit before she died. For the most part, though, I was easily able to get rid of all the baby and toddler and little kid items that we no longer used. I felt no need to hold onto them; why not let someone else get some good out of them? Besides, they were cluttering up my closets.

Recently, though, my family moved out of the home we’ve lived in for the past eight years, and for the first time, I was confronted with something I couldn’t just blithely toss in the donation pile: their books.

I’ve read to my kids since they were in the womb. When I was pregnant with my first, I learned that babies are soothed by their mother’s voice even in utero, so I would sit in his nursery reading Goodnight Moon to my big pregnant belly. Bedtime stories became an integral part of our routine from the time he was born, and continued with each new sibling. Books were my weakness, and still are; my kids know even now that I will never say no to a book purchase. Back then, I’d scour garage sales and thrift stores for kids’ books to bring home. We signed up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which — if you haven’t heard of it — is an amazing free program that sends kids from birth to age 5 a book every single month at no cost.

Eventually, we had amassed shelves upon shelves of children’s books, and we read them all. We read at bedtime. We read when someone was sick. We read on rainy days and snow days, curled up under a blanket together as the precipitation lashed angrily at the windows. We had special books that we only read on certain holidays, and the kids would get so excited when it was time to pull out the stack of Halloween books or Christmas books.

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