Before I had my babies, I must have gone to at least a dozen baby showers.  Every time I browsed the registry to choose a gift, I was surprised at the huge amount of gear they wanted.

I understand the crib, but she also wants a bassinet, and a pack n’ play, and a portable mini-crib? 

It sounded excessive, but I assumed I simply didn’t understand because I wasn’t a mother yet.  However, as the months passed, almost every one of my new-mommy friends had begun complaining that her house was over-run by baby gear.  She didn’t know where to put it all, it kept getting in the way, and it made cleaning up impossible.  

There is a tipping point.

Sure, each piece of gear was helpful for specific situations in specific baby phases.  But there is clearly a tipping point where the inconvenience of the excessive amount of stuff outweighs the convenience of each individual item.

When I found out I was pregnant with our first child, I wanted to draw wisdom from my friends’ experiences. I resolved to avoid the clutter and only register for what I really needed. 

Easier said than done!

I know I don’t need a bouncy seat and a Bumbo and a sit-me-up, and that curved pillow thing.  But which one should I get?  One friend swore the Bumbo was a life saver and the bouncy seat was a waste of money, and the next mom said the just opposite.

How on earth could I know what would work for me when I hadn’t even had the baby yet?

I needed to draw a clear line between the items that really would truly make my life easier, and the unnecessary stuff that would just get in the way.  The only way to avoid future clutter was to find a solid decision making strategy for shopping. 

That is when I came up with . . .

The Rule of Three: Wait until you have 3 valid moments of desire.

Here is an example . . .

I was working in the kitchen with my baby daughter strapped to me, bothered by how heavy she was getting.  I thought to myself, “I wish I had something on the counter to put her down in.  A bouncy seat would be nice.”

That was one valid moment of desire.

I wasn’t tempted by a commercial, or watching someone else use it at their house.  In that moment, in my own house, with my own baby, if I did have a bouncy seat, I would have used it and appreciated it. 

But . . . was that just a fluke?  A one-time, odd-ball moment?  Not sure yet . . . so I waited.

The very next day, I had a similar moment of desire, and two days later I had another.  Three valid moments of desire in less than a week?  Clearly, a bouncy seat would be a wise purchase.  So I bought one.  I used that bouncy seat almost every day with both of my babies.  Best $30 I ever spent!

Here is another example . . . 

My husband and I took our babies to a restaurant, which had unfortunately run out of high chairs.  I had to hold my daughter in my lap while I ate – not fun.  I saw another family using a travel high chair that hooked onto the table.  Well, that would have been convenient!

In that moment, I wanted to jump onto Amazon and buy one out of frustration.  But I’m glad I waited, because that turned out to be the only moment of desire for a travel high-chair I ever had!  That thing would have sat around unused, taking up space, getting in the way, making me regret wasting the money.

This strategy can be used for ANY kind of shopping!  Whether it be clothes, kitchen gadgets, or bathroom accessories, when we use The Rule of Three, we make better choices.

The Rule of Three strengthens our patience.

When we rush to buy things, we become swayed by every suggestion, recommendation, sale, advertisement, and impulse.  Our decisions are not our own. 

By contrast, there is something about waiting that gives us power.  We take control of our shopping choices.  “I will decide what I really need, and I will only buy it when I know the purchase is wise.”

The Rule of Three builds shopping confidence.

This is the third time this year I’ve wanted to wear this dress, but couldn’t because I don’t have the right shoes.  So yes, I feel good about buying those heels.  I might wait for them to go on sale, but I’m not buying them because they’re on sale.

Making pancakes for the all these house-guests in this small pan takes so long.  A pancake griddle would be much easier.  But now that I think about it, the only other time I wanted one was last year when we had houseguests.  Eh – I’ll live.

The Rule of Three avoids future clutter.

If all of our purchases are thoughtful, wise, and necessary, we would significantly slow the influx of stuff into our homes.  Sure, there will always be a little decluttering to do as life phases change and things get worn out or used up.  But we will never again delete boxes of unused excess.

The best thing about using The Rule of Three is that if something is not a wise purchase, while waiting for the second or moment of desire, you simply forget about it.  I had to search my mind for an example to use, because I had forgotten all about that travel high chair.  If you can resist the first impulse, the rest is easy!

So the next time you feel the desire to buy something, remind yourself to wait.

Wait for that second and third moment of desire. 

Wait for the confidence. 

When it’s all said and done, the most effective way to declutter your home is to avoid the clutter in the first place!