Keeping a Crib Out of the Landfill – Part 1

So I have a problem.

When it comes to my children, I can be pretty sentimental.  Too sentimental at times. I’ve kept stained sleepers, chewed-up board books, bits of paper they’ve scribbled on. I’ve been known to weep over itty bitty socks and stand there in a near catatonic state, hemming and hawing over whether I can stuff just one. more. thing. into the chest I’ve allotted for keepsakes.

Yes, I could use some therapy.  I wish I were joking, but I’m not.  As much as I crave minimalistic spaces, as much as I recognize the wisdom of William Morris (have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful), as much as clutter drives me around the bend and makes me cranky and on-edge, any item remotely connected with my children has proven to be my stumbling block.

So when our youngest moved from the crib to a twin bed (over six years ago), I was stumped.  What to do with a piece of furniture that had cradled our three sleeping babies?

I’m pretty sure I know what a sane person would have done:  (maybe) have a good cry over the passage of time, and then send it off to a resale store, or list it in the newspaper, or cart it off to Goodwill.

So what did I do?  I stowed it  — disassembled, of course — in the back of our closet, with the full intention of keeping it for possible future grandchildren.

Yes.  I’m fully aware this borders on crazy-lady behaviour.

So the crib had sat in the back of our closet — taking up precious space — for about two years when I caught a whiff of a problem:  crib safety regulations had changed. Drop-side cribs were no longer being made,  and it was illegal to re-sell them.  It seems the plastic parts that make the side rail moveable were occasionally failing, with devastating results.  Suddenly, the notion of keeping our crib for possible future grandchildren went from nostalgic frugality to cavalier riskiness.  But while I knew I would never want to risk the life of a child on the dubious security of a brittle bit of plastic, I also knew I didn’t want to just chuck the crib into the landfill.  (Have I already mentioned our three babies slept in this crib?!)

Thank goodness for Google.  That’s all I can say.

We had just moved back to Canada (our now-illegal crib coming with us) and while I was looking for renovation ideas for our new-to-us house-from-hell, I had a sudden brainwave:  perhaps I could use the pieces of the crib to make something else.  I did a Google search, and fell down a rabbit hole into the awe-inspiring DIY internet-land of Let Me Show You How to Re-Purpose ANYTHING, emerging several weeks later with ideas galore.   I truly am amazed by all the creative people out there: people like Gail from myrepurposedlife.com who can look at the side rail of a crib and envision a bench.  And not only can they envision said bench, they have the wherewithal to take photos of its metamorphosis and to make this handy bench tutorial.

So this is the first piece my husband and I made:

a plant bench to fit in the narrow space between the wall and the free-standing bathtub in our ensuite bathroom.   We loosely followed Gail’s tutorial, but unfortunately, a blog wasn’t even a dream at the time, so I didn’t think to take photos.

(I think William Morris would approve).

12 thoughts on “Keeping a Crib Out of the Landfill – Part 1

  1. Looks great! And I know what you mean about letting go of our kids’ baby things. I’ve got it down to 2 big tubs–mostly good toys and a few very special pieces of clothing. I miss those baby days, and I enjoy it when something causes me to get into those tubs again. I keep them guilt-free!

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    1. Thanks Rita!

      I’ve been determined to pare down the baby and toddler things this fall, because I’ve really kept way too much, but I’ve not had much success. I had a goal to fit all the special clothing and blankets, as well as a file box of paper (artwork and things the kids have made/given me over the years) into a large chest we have at the foot of our bed. It was like pulling teeth, to choose which items would get bagged, but I finally managed, only to (suspiciously!) never find the time or opportunity to get that bag to Goodwill. When my daughter came home from university for the holidays, I made the mistake of telling her I was giving away her old duvet cover (the one that wasn’t stylish enough for her dorm!). She asked me to keep it, so I begrudgingly opened the bag, laid out everything on the dining room table – yet again! – and once again began the process of hemming and hawing over the baby clothes. (I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this is becoming a clinical problem!!) Anyway, I was talking to my sister-in-law last night, bemoaning my apparent inability to deal with this stuff and I sent her a photo of a little outfit that her son wore, followed by my two boys. And even though she’s not a keeper (she’s kept next to nothing) she advised me to simply box it up and keep it. What’s another box or two tucked away? she said. At this point, I’m too tired of this process to disagree. And if I start to feel guilty or like a hoarder, I’ll try to remember that you have your boxes too – guilt-free!!

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  2. Oh my goodness, I love this! The bench is really beautiful in its own right and I love the idea of having an object that holds so many memories in this “restorative” space in the house (if that makes any sense…I am imagining that the presence of the bench brings up happy memories when you are taking a bath, and that sounds really nice).

    As for the useful/beautiful admonition, I think that when objects hold family history that in itself is usefulness. No, our things are not our memories, but I do think that objects can have a kind of talismanic function. (And I think it is better that they do — I would rather be surrounded by meaningful objects than mere objects.) So I agree with your sister-in-law — don’t worry about another box or two tucked away! Still, its especially nice when those memory-keeping objects also have an ongoing practical function, so well done on the bench!

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    1. Thank-you Sarah! I do really love this bench – it lifts my spirits every time I see it. I love that it’s a part of the crib and holds so many good memories, I love that it provides a spot for plants (because to me, plants in a bathroom is just so gezellig (!), but prior to this house, it’s not been possible), and I love that my husband and I built it together (historically, we haven’t been overly handy, something else that has changed with this house). So a win all around, in my mind 🙂

      And yes, I totally agree with you on objects having a kind of talismanic function. In fact, I think that’s where I do manage to succeed in minimalism – the only decorative objects I have in the house (kids’ bedrooms excluded) are ones that have a positive and deeper meaning beyond mere decoration.

      Over the holidays I also asked my daughter about the box of “Grandma pyjamas” she’s not letting me give away. (They weren’t in the bag that didn’t make it out the door to Goodwill; they’re just a collection of her favourite pyjamas sewn by her Grandma which she’s outgrown but refuses to let go of — taking up room in our closet, because she doesn’t have a closet, sigh…). Her idea is that I should cut them up and make a quilt out of them for her. This would definitely fit the bill for a memory-keeping object which has an ongoing practical function (which I like much, much more than a box of “stuff”), and I can see myself doing that someday (and maybe with the baby clothes too?). The problem is only keeping all these raw materials (so to speak) hanging around until the time comes when I can actually get to the project, and of course, this is exactly what my minimalistic-begone-with-clutter self balks at…

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  3. Marian,
    I promise I’m not stalking you. I got a pingback on the link in your post to my blog. Happy I was able to inspire you to create (with the hubs) a beautiful, and useful piece that brings you enjoyment. I TOTALLY regret that I don’t have my daughter’s crib. It was sold soon after she outgrew it….but the rest of the basement is a time capsule of her childhood. Thankfully I only had one child! 🙂

    Thanks so much for linking to My Repurposed Life–I love what I do!

    gail

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    1. Thank you so much for coming by, Gail! (I’m so clueless about the mechanics of a blog, that I had no idea my post would send something to yours! You may just get four more pingbacks from me, as I have four more re-purposed crib projects to share).

      I can feel your regret in not having your daughter’s crib. Regrets and hindsight…I wish I had a switch to turn off both, as they’re definitely something I struggle with!

      There is definitely something special about using that very piece of furniture, as opposed to just using an old crib to create a new piece of furniture. When we were in the height of renovations, and before we had completed work on all our own crib pieces, our neighbours set their old crib onto the curb for garbage collection. I don’t know how many times I went to the window that day, peering out at their crib, trying to steel up the nerve to abscond with it before the truck came. In the end, I didn’t. I decided I was already overwhelmed with projects, our garage was stuffed to the gills, our house was in varying states of shambles…I felt like one more thing would be the final straw… But now, there’s a part of me that does regret that I let that crib go. I’m not sure what I would have done with the resulting pieces (I had spots for our own crib pieces, but not necessarily any more!) but the thought of that crib in the landfill does occasionally gnaw at me.

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  4. Hi Marian,
    Absolutely adorable and very clever! You’ve preserved the fondness and memories – without adding to the landfill.
    I re-did two houses before the word ‘blog’ was invented! 😉 You and I have the good stuff – what’ done!

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    1. Thanks, Sara!! I often think it would be so much easier to turn our houses into homes (as in, comfortable and cozy spaces that simply reflected who we are) without the distraction of the DIY home blog internet scene! This is our first fixer-upper (our previous three houses were new construction), and we’ve been here 4 years, so in other words, we’ve done it with the help of Google, for better or worse! It’s been simultaneously good and bad (empowering as well as exhausting), but on the whole, it must lean more to the positive, because whenever I think of having to move again (a distinct possibility with my husband’s work), my subconscious isn’t screaming never again to a fixer upper 🙂

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