One bite at a time together: declutter toys (project 22)

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About Jeannett

Jeannett Gibson is a mom to four and wife to one who loves color and believes in story. She loves to tell you hers and wants to hear yours, too...because there is really no sense in wasting our suffering or not sharing in each other's joy. She blogs, fund raises, and sometimes even gets her crafty pants on at Life Rearranged.

This post is part of a series where we are working our way through Tsh’s ebook, One Bite at a Time.  I get to write here and share how I felt about a task, if it was helpful, or even…if it was a complete bust for me and my very real and very crazy family.

As always, you are more than welcome to play along too!  You don’t have to carry out the tasks in order, so you can jump in right now and be just fine. Come on, everything’s more fun when you do it together, right?  Well, most everything…

Project 22:  Declutter (and rotate) your kids’ toys

You know what I love about working through this book?  The weeks when I can say “Hey!  I do that already!”  And then I can give myself a little pat on the back and feel really accomplished—without having actually done anything.

I really dislike toys.  Actually, I don’t mind toys so long as they are actually played with. But if you have kids, you know that the number of toys that crunch under your bare feet versus the number of toys that are ever truly in use are nowhere near equal.  I am forever donating toys to Goodwill and throwing away toys that have broken/missing pieces.  (And we still have a shocking number of toys!).

We can’t much do the rotating thing because while our house isn’t small, there is NO storage space. So instead, I try to cull down every couple of months.  And you want to know a secret?  I don’t wait until my kids are napping to do it. 

I know, it sounds insane, but it’s totally worth it.  I’ve explained that there are kids whose mommies and daddies don’t have as much money to buy them toys, so we will give our toys to a special store where they can go and buy them inexpensively.  Somehow, my son seems to embrace this concept and actually offers up toys for donation periodically.  “Mommy, I don’t really play with this toy.  We should give this to other kids.”

Maybe I got lucky, but I love that his little heart sees beyond hoarding and that he desires to share in his own four-year-old way.  The jury is still out on if my girls will be as generous.

The toy thing is REALLY hard around here.  You see, my kids are the first (and so far, only) grandchildren for both of our families.  With ultra-excited grandparents just itching to love on their littles, it can be more than overwhelming.  In fact, at one point, I threatened my mom, “If you buy them one. more. toy. please know that you are making a donation to the Goodwill.  I will donate it brand new, in the box, and some other kid will get a real kick out of it.”

But the thing is, I hate being that way.  I don’t want to take the joy away from their grandparent-hood.  I don’t want to make it un-fun for them.  But I also don’t want to pick up 8,000 plastic toys off my floor—particularly 8,000 plastic toys my kids only put on the floor in the first place because they were looking for the six toys they actually play with.

More importantly, the over-abundance was directly opposite of the values and lifestyle we wanted to instill in our children.  So there was this really awkward tension there: allow grandparents to be grandparents, but not let my kids own more toys than a toy store.

My solution: coordination.

Before every major gift-giving occasion, I try to think of one larger thing the kids would actually play with.  One year, I had everyone chip in for a trampoline.  Last Christmas, I assigned certain elements for a play kitchen to each family member.  My carpenter dad built the kitchen, my painter brother-in-law painted it, my crafty mother-in-law sewed ruffled aprons, my mom bought some of the food, and auntie bought the plates.  This way, everyone was able to buy the kids a fun gift, and I wasn’t stuck with a bunch of random toys that would lose their novelty in three days’ time.

Other options for future gift-giving

Ask grandparents to pay for…

  • classes (karate, swim, art),
  • subscriptions to fun kid’s magazines (National Geographic for Kids, Highlights),
  • or books.

Books are always welcome and are the one thing I don’t think you can really have too much of.  Just make sure you explain to your kids who bought the lessons and maybe have them write a thank you note mid-year.   Grandparents like that kind of thing, especially my mom who doesn’t like that it’s not a tangible thing to be held in hand.

One last thing: no matter what I do, my kids still get more gear than I like at birthdays and holidays.  Often, I’ll pull aside a few items and put them up in the closet.  At Christmas, I set aside a couple of dolls and a board game, and on a particularly boredom-inducing rainy day in March, I pulled them out and gave myself bonafide Mommy Rockstar status.

It’s a win-win: my kids think I’m amazing, I didn’t have to spend a dime, and the gift giver gets individual recognition for their present, when it would have otherwise been lost in the shuffle.

Now it’s your turn: How do you handle toy clutter? Have you worked through project 22 from One Bite?

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Comments

  1. Great tips, Jeannett. Our family enjoys asking for memberships to the zoo, science museums, etc. in our area. These gifts last all year, and family members love to see the pictures and hear of all the excitement on our visits.

    My favorite things . . . no clutter, won’t break, lasts all year, and our entire family enjoys the adventures. ;-)
    Tracy @ usingtimewisely.com´s latest post: 2012: Garden Journal – April Edition

    • We have 7 grandchildren, 6 of which are in one family. Their mom doesn’t like a lot of toys, and I don’t blame her. The kids often just play together and use their imagination. We decided years ago to be very careful in gift buying. We usually buy a annual family pass to a local attraction at Christmas. On birthdays I find out what projects they are currently engrossed in and buy some supplies for their project.
      Much better than 800 plastic toy pieces on the floor!
      Bernice @ Living the Balanced Life´s latest post: Depression is NOT being sad

  2. I also get frustrated when I find toys all over the house. Great post!

  3. I love the idea of gift lists. We’ve always done them. How else are grandparents who live 3 hours away going to know what the kids really use? In our family it is perfectly acceptable — encouraged, even — to ask for money towards a bigger item. Most recently my 15 yo nephew wanted some electronic gadget; his grandmother said she’d meet if halfway if he earned the money for the rest. He did.
    FrancesVettergreenVisualArtist´s latest post: less is more. sometimes.

    • The best thing I ever did was start an Amazon Wish List. When grandparents ask what to get my daughter, I just send them the link. Some may think that’s tacky, but it’s the best way I’ve found to ensure we end up with things we actually want and/or need.
      Camille´s latest post: knit shift dress

  4. We too have to declutter from time to time because we’re blessed with wonderfully loving grandparents who love to give gifts. I think it is a good “problem” though because, we have hardly had to buy toys for the kids and the grandparents love to love on them.
    Anna@The DIY Mom´s latest post: Family Fridays: If You Give a Boy a Chocolate Covered Spatula

    • I feel bad complaining, because like you, I’ve probably spent a total of $20 on my kids…and that’s been on crayons and things like that…but it can be A LOT. :)
      jeannett´s latest post: InstaFriday

  5. The grandparents seem to be competing as to who can provide the biggest, most plastic, hardest to store, single use toy on the market. Then they give at least three of them every time they see the kids. I DON’T want to sound ungrateful (because really, I’m not) but I would much prefer they gave one or two quality toys a year, that will be well loved. And actually used!

    Thanks for this article, it reminded me to bring it up with them and actually effect change!
    The Accidental Housewife´s latest post: Ready to Wiggle? Why yes, yes we are!

  6. This is a great post. I wrote about our kids toys, and where they all have to fit here http://www.townsend-house.com/2012/03/project-simplify-kids-stuff.html It is really frustrating for me though, I have one set of grandparents that refuse to give consumable gifts, because they don’t think they are “fun” And instead come up with all manner of gifts for birthdays…Christmas…and every other holiday in the calendar year :-) I think after almost 4 years we are starting to ask for one large gift, which has helped a bit. But, since it isn’t my mom I am talking about, there is very little I can do. It is definitely hard though, when I am trying to show my babes that the meaning of Christmas is not a pile of presents.
    Heather´s latest post: new smoothie recipe

  7. avatar
    Meredith says:

    Great post! My children are blessed with very giving grandmother and aunts! This past Christmas, I asked them to give my kids something small to open and then give cash for the rest of what they would spend on toys. We’re saving to go to Disney, so that money is put away until we’ve saved enough for the trip. They loved that idea also, so they did it again for my kids’ birthdays.

  8. This is so true. I would get stressed every time the grandparents brought over a new toy (especially the ones that were easily broken or age inappropriate). I try to relax about it, though. I also like to put some new toys away immediately to have a stash for a “rainy day” and frequently do a roundup of broken/unused toys to get rid of. I have suggested museum memberships as gifts, but it hasn’t caught on yet. I think they like to give something tangible, since most of the kid’s grandparents live far away.
    Alexis´s latest post: Sock Monkey Birthday Party

  9. avatar
    Lindsey says:

    Thank you, this post totally spoke to me! My step daughter was an only child for 5 years and has amassed an insane amount of toys. Now we have a 7 month old and you can barely tell he live here: there’s so many dolls and pink things! She hasn’t quite grasped the giving away of toys yet, so I do purge a few times a year and she hasn’t noticed yet. That reminds me, this weekend we need to go thru all the little barbie shoes and all that since someone has started crawling! :P

    • avatar
      ClutteredMama says:

      Just FYI– if you super glue Barbie’s shoes on, they don’t get lost or eaten! ;)
      ClutteredMama´s latest post: Why I Let My Boys Sleep with Us

      • avatar
        HeathRa says:

        I LOVE the idea of gluing Barbie’s shoes to her feet! Then you only need ONE pair of Barbie shoes per Barbie! Brilliant!!

      • Wow, I totally never thought of gluing on shoes!!! I was about to throw away our doll’s shoes because I’m so sick of worrying about where they are when we have little guests over!!!

        But that tip aside, I really enjoyed this whole post. This past birthday I gave the grandparents a choice of a few big items that we wanted for the kids, that way I’m not dictating how much they should spend, but we get something that I’ve really thought about and we’re going to use. When people ask what to get my kids, for their birthdays, I usually ask for art supplies (they LOVE creative projects, so it really gets used).
        Mrs T´s latest post: How to be productive with old birthday cards?

  10. avatar
    ClutteredMama says:

    I purge frequently. My son still hasn’t grasped the “give to kids who don’t have” concept, so I purge at naptime or when he’s out of the house. Everything that isn’t broken gets donated. We have gotten lucky in the grandparent department. My dad lives cross country and sends gift cards b/c he HATES paying shipping. In the past this has allowed us to buy high impact BIG gifts like our son’s sandbox (3 years later is still THE favorite toy) and an outdoor climber. This year, we gave one small gift from Pops & Nana for each kid at Christmas and hung on to the gift cards. We just got a bike helmet, rain boots, sandals and a bike horn for the biggen with the card. All stuff he needed (well horn wasn’t NEEDED). All the other grandparents are good about gifts too– art supplies, subscriptions to Animal Baby magazine, etc.
    ClutteredMama´s latest post: Why I Let My Boys Sleep with Us

    • Just keep at it, and take him with you to the Goodwill. Maybe go inside with him and show him how it works. I think you would be surprised at how much they can grasp…it’s hard, but so worth it in the end to have him offer up things he knows he doesn’t need…it’ll make life so much easier on his wife someday! Ha!
      jeannett´s latest post: InstaFriday

  11. I am really grateful that the grandparents don’t go overboard with toys. One great gift my in-laws give my daughter every year for her birthday is a family membership to a nature center. Our membership is reciprocated at many zoos, aquariums and science centers across the country so we have gotten quite a bit of use out of it. We have a great time together as a family and it doesn’t take up space in our house!

    Also, I would add that making sure that toys have a clearly labled place to go gives kids the ability to clean up after themselves (with some training from parents).
    Elizabeth G´s latest post: Kitchen Command Center

  12. Great ideas! I am lucky in that my kids’ grandparents are great about asking for ideas and lists for my kids for birthdays and Christmas. And we have done combined gifts before, like a playhouse for outside one year. I love the idea of non-items, like memberships or classes, because that gives so many fun opportunities and memories, rather than just a few weeks of playing with a toy and then having it stuck in a bin or on a shelf.
    Beth´s latest post: Going With the (Wax) Flow

  13. Our daughter is also the first (and only) grandchild on both sides. I try to encourage books and make a list throughout the year of toys I think she will truly enjoy and won’t become clutter (at least not as quickly).
    Steph´s latest post: In Christ Alone

  14. Whether it’s welcome or not, I send a list of what the kids need or want prior to Christmas. My two older kids’ birthdays are right before Christmas and right after, so the list does double-duty. The grandparents, etc. for the most part honor our wishes….but one set doesn’t “get” us not wanting the overabundance of electronics and pink/princess things, and the other set tends to shop a lot at dollar/thrift stores, so we get TONS of cheap, plastic toys or odds and ends. We also end up with multiples of the same toys sometimes from grandparents. We’ll cull every now and again, getting rid of broken things or duplicates (and occasionally our oldest will hand me something to “give to kids who don’t have toys”). Small things are saved for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Bigger things are taken to our monthly “MOPSwap” with the leftovers given to our church’s clothes and household goods closet for those in need.
    Melissa Jones´s latest post: MommyBee Designs

  15. Oh, you are so right. Barnaby is only 9 months old and we have already had to bag up a ton of stuffed toys to put in the garage until I let go of the “but they were gifts!” guilt and send them to the charity shop.

    Our house is under 800 square feet, so we’d like to keep as few toys as possible. We’ve definitely prioritised books, but I love the idea of having one particular “set” like a kitchen or tool bench that can be played with as a group and added to.
    Becca´s latest post: 20 Miles

  16. Love these tips. Decluttering toys is on my to-do list. And books too.
    Jadah {family sponge}´s latest post: Five tips for family road trip fun

  17. I love your tips about kids that get an overabundance from family members. I don’t personally have that problem, but I have many friends who do, so I will pass this post along.

    We keep toys to a minimum and I try to do (like you) sets that can be added to. Matchbox cars, legos, and kitchen are the main ones. All of those can be easily added to if you tell grandparents what you have.

    One reason I limit toys is not just for clutter, but because children actually gt easily overwhelmed and sometimes even stressed. Having fewer choices, I have found, makes things more relaxing and they play better.

    I involve my four-year-old in the process, and he gets the idea of clearing out. My two-year-old, though, I don’t. She doesn’t care, and will not miss anything unless she is seeing it go out the door. As she gets older and more aware, though, I will definitely include her as I think that is important.

    Enjoyed your post!
    Johanna´s latest post: Easter Celebration!

  18. I’m curious. When you say you set aside gifts at Christmas or the like and then pull them out later in the year, are you setting them aside before or after the kids open them? I’m just wondering how you handle sending thank you notes- whether you send the note for them or they open the gift and send the thank you note then you spirit the gift away when they are not paying attention.

    I’m also thinking that if the grandparents gave classes or museum/zoo memberships it would be nice to share pictures of your child at the class or the zoo from time to time so they can see how much they enjoy it. If they have a performance of some type during the year, invite the grandparents to plan their visit (assuming they don’t live close by already) so they can attend.

    • I basically pull aside a few toys after they’ve unwrapped them. This might not be as effective as I’d like when they get older (they are 4, 2, and 2 now), but truthfully, I didn’t even hide them in the closet. They saw them there and when they would ask, I would just kinda say “Sorry, those aren’t for right now…you have plenty of toys to play with now…” I realize that might sound really simplistic, and maybe my kids are anomolies, but they move along quickly and don’t seem too wrapped up in it. But when I finally DO take them down it’s like a party! Since you’ve opened the gift and know what it is, a thank you note is still doable…although I don’t say anything about “…but they won’t be opening it for three months…” I leave that part out. :)
      jeannett´s latest post: InstaFriday

  19. We used to live in an extremely small (less than 900 sq ft.) home. I had to get creative with the way I stored toys. Thankfully, we are in a much bigger home now, that actually has closets, so I often rotate toys. I move toys from my son’s room to the living room/playroom, and the living room/playroom to his room. We also put toys in the basement that he often doesn’t play with. On rainy days, we head downstairs to play with all the toys he hasn’t seen in a while.
    Kelly´s latest post: InstaFriday

  20. Great topic – as only grandkids and only great grandkids with an abundance of great aunts the toys were crazy. My sister – their only “aunt” decided to stop competing. She dropped out of “gifts” years ago and instead gives special “aunt” outings. They have gone to broadway show (this year), trips to a spa or a zoo, done a zipline, etc. My girls (now 10 and 13) love it as they get time alone with their aunt and uncle and get “spoiled” a bit. They talk all the time of the “memories” they are making. And have a list of ideas for future “gifts” they have given her. I love it as first – nothing new other than a few photos and lots of memories enter my house and second – I get a night/day free (like a gift to me!). Gotta say – the girls look forward more to this special tradition than they do opening bags and boxes of toys/gifts from their grandparents….. And they spend a lot of time anticipating – what will our aunt adventure be this time…..

  21. Just a chuckle–my husband walked by as I was reading this post, I he read “declutter and rotate kids” missing the toys at the end. He laughed and said that works–sort of. All of our kids are out of the house now but the youngest 2 are still in university so they do come home and it is a rotation of sorts! Talk about a lot less clutter (except now it is bigger–furniture they don’t need until 4 months from now, etc)

  22. My daughter loves to hoard, or she did until one day, I was so frustrated with the state of her room I spent the whole day with here, pulling every item out of it and only putting very few precious items back. She went from dozens of toys to 3, her barbies, her Lego’s and her American girl doll. I threw out all broken or half used pencil crayons and crayons and got her all brand new ones for Christmas and now she actually sits and draws at her desk. SHE LOVES IT! and now keeps her room clean all on her own.
    Victoria @Snail Pace Transformations´s latest post: Daily Life Captured: Crafts and Food

    • I’m actually just to this point with my 4 almost 5 year old. I’m hoping that the change won’t make her too upset. We decided to give her old toys to a friend raising money for her adoption. She also has grandparents that spoil her, and her birthday is in a couple of days. I’m hoping to also put away some of the toys she opens for a rainy day. :)
      Mandy´s latest post: Letting go…

  23. Great post! I only have 1 child, so I am new to this. My parents have actually been pretty good so far, but I think it’s easier for them to know what we could use since they live nearby. They will get our son the occasional item of clothing (often used) or small toy or book, but the main thing they gave us for Christmas was a membership to the children’s museum, which has already been used 5-6 times. We are working on getting my in-laws to follow suit by suggesting bigger items they could get for him, but I think they feel a little guilty for not seeing him as often, and they have a toy for him and clothes every time we see them, which is once every month or two. I will have to keep the class and subscription ideas in mind as he gets older. Thanks!

  24. Oh my word. I could have written this article.
    Probably not as well, but the exact same sentiments are found in my head/heart as well!
    As my kids are the ONLY grandchildren on BOTH SIDES of our families, birthdays and Christmas are OVERWHELMING to say the least.
    I LOVE the idea of contributing to one big thing or to pay for lessons or other creative outlets. We’ve been in Africa now for almost 8 months (for 1 kiddo’s bday and Christmas) and it’s been nice to have far less toys around. But this will be the challenge going back home in just over a year. Especially when we bring the newest family member back that no one will have met {or showered with a ridiculous amount of presents – especially if it’s a girl – aaagh!}.
    So thanks. :)
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  25. Our only child is still a young babe, and this is already a bit of an issue with us. I have sent new toys in the packages and new clothes with the tags straight to Goodwill. We have tried to kindly let everyone know that we don’t want piles of stuff. I appreciate having some other alternatives to consider.

  26. I’ve given up giving toys away because it doesn’t address the “what’s in it for me?” issue that my kids are hung up on. Instead we’ve created the “trip jar” (decorated a tomato sauce jar) and now we’re selling things at yard sales or Craiglist. Sure it’s a hassle, and no I don’t feel good about it (like I do giving things to goodwill). But the money goes into the “trip jar” and as my kids love to take trips, it makes it a lot easier to wrest toys out of their hot little hands ;)
    Alexis´s latest post: Are You Ready for Cry It Out?

  27. Great blogging, it’ll inspire a lot people surely, thanks for sharing.
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  28. We have a similar struggle and I always end up the bad guy. but, I like your ideas for asking for lessons and such, my son is very interested in music, and hubby and I have been wondering how to finance lessons. Between our 7 sets (yes 7) of grandparents and great-grandparents, this really could be an attainable birthday gift this fall/winter.

  29. We’re keeping a few toys he’s outgrown for if we ever have another kid, so that stuff is all in the closet (same with clothes). So far I haven’t felt overwhelmed with his toys, not sure if it’s because we now have a bigger space, or because he doesn’t get a ton of gifts (usually one per person) so it’s more manageable.
    Sleeping Mom´s latest post: Flashback Friday: Overcoming other people’s judgment

  30. We also toy purge at least 4 times a year. Like you i too involve my children in the process and explain that there are children less fortunate. They love choosing which of their toys will find a new home. Great post :)
    Amber´s latest post: Preparing for Anzac Day

  31. A great and thoughtful post. Something I strive for, but I seem to have problems decluttering because I always remember the person that gave us the toy…it makes me feel like I didn’t appreciate the thought they put into it for us. And also- no matter how many times I try to talk about this with grandparents- they just aren’t there yet. They express love through gift giving and get defensive when I suggest otherwise.

  32. My parents tend to not buy my daughter toys because they know she has alot, and usually if they do get something they keep it at their house for her to play with. However my aunts and uncles are another story and we end up with toys. I have 1 storage bin that I rotate between but I am thinking that I need to start getting rid of some. she has 2 largish baskets of toys right now, probably enough to fill a laundry basket, and she plays with about 3 or 4 of them. So why do I have more??? Her 2nd birthday is coming up, and I am due with our second child in September so its probably a good time to cut down now.

  33. Love the coordination idea, thanks.
    I also donate my least favorite toys (or least used) to a local consignment sale that happens in both the spring and fall.
    Emily @ Random Recycling´s latest post: Natural Egg Dyeing with Kitchen Leftovers

  34. Great idea for alternatives to toys for gift giving. Love the idea of annual passes. I also appreciate the idea of teaching your kids to give to the less fortunate. However, thrift stores are not just for families who can’t afford things. It’s also quite a good way to be environmental by reusing an alot of families shop there for creative ventures as well.

  35. My daughter is a hoarder–she’s 5 & while she is sympathetic about other kids who don’t have as much, she’s always sure she NEEDS whatever toy we’re trying to part with–crying & carrying on, on& off, for WEEKS. she cries when I’m getting rid of infant toys both she & her brother have outgrown. it’s a bit unbearable. So, I know we’re missing a valuable teaching moment, but I go through the toys when she’s at school.

    My main method of decluttering is to not let the clutter in in the first place. When we’re considering buying anything, I imagine how hard it’s gonna be to purge later–& usually it never makes it home with us!!

    As for grandparents, I’ve really gotten my parents on board with getting classes or memberships (zoo, etc.) for the kids. The grandparents really wanted to give the kids something to open though–(something fun, not a membership card!)–so the way it’s worked for us & still worked for the g’parents is that they get the kids some kind of gear or coordinating thing to unwrap–so a new swimsuit or goggles to go with swim lessons or cleats to go with soccer lessons, etc. Everyone’s happy! (and if they don’t follow the “rules” & send crap, my mom sends the receipt so I can exchange it if I really don’t want it in the house–otherwise she knows it’ll go, brand new, to goodwill!

  36. We’ve had a couple of birthdays at my place recently and I’ve tried to be smart about it as more toys could possibly drive me over the edge. So I worked out a few things that the boys do need and gave people some options. They included: sand for the sand pit (delivered) – yes! what a wonderful gift – it was getting a bit low so this has totally re-ignited the sand play. Pyjamas – winter is coming up here, so no logo winter pj’s were also on the list and gratefully received (and now in use). Art supplies – can you have enough? So many new pictures, paintings, stamping, ripping & crafty activities.
    Rose´s latest post: Neuro Talk

  37. My husband is an only child so his parents think they are the only ones who buy them gifts but I have a large family and all the aunts/uncles send gifts as well. A couple Christmases ago, when my in-laws saw the kids easily had 3 times the amount of gifts to open as anyone else, they started to understand. Then my 3 year old opened several gifts, as I encouraged him to open more he said “But I want to play with this one!” The baby, almost 2 at the time, REFUSED to open any more, he just wanted to play. We waited several hours and then did another round of opening after nap time, they finally understood! I am not ungrateful but we’re moving in to the stage of lots of little toys (legos, action figures, etc) and my poor feet cannot handle stepping on them anymore :-) I’ve finally been able to get them onboard for a family membership to the zoo or museums. I always make sure the kids tell them we had a great time visiting it again, then they know it is a truly appreciated gift!

  38. avatar
    Paula Nix says:

    I second and third those who mentioned giving experiences (museum memberships, trips, etc.) as gifts. We LOVE those and frequently request them. I also try to reciprocate in our gift giving, we have given friends an “ice cream date” as a birthday present which has been a big hit. We’ve also had good luck with coordinating with grandparents and asking for specific items or requesting experiences or art supplies (which get used up quickly around here). But, like you, even with all that the clutter still sometimes threatens to overtake us.

    So, the other thing we do (especially with random, non-holiday or birthday items) is suggest that they stay at the grandparents to be played with. Our grandparents are all local, so the kids see them frequently. It also *subtly* lets them know that we have LOTS of stuff already : )

  39. I don’t know why I never thought of that, but the subscriptions or classes as a gift is a fantastic idea! I actually have a mother-in-law who would rather not get the kids toys because she knows they have far too many. Now I actually have something to tell her to get for them. It is a constant struggle with the amount of toys in our home. I think sometimes I am more attached to my kids toys then they are (in part because I know how much we spent on them!).
    Laura´s latest post: The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

  40. I feel like quite the dummy! I’ve never thought of asking for memberships/classes/etc for gift ideas!

    Every we year we struggle to think of some toy that the kids will enjoy, doesn’t have, or won’t annoy the hell out of mom and dad!
    Chris @ CleverFather´s latest post: 12 Crazy Things Your Baby is Thinking About

  41. I’ve tried begging and pleading to the GPs about cutting out the excessive gift giving. I’ve hinted that the greatest gift my husband ever received was having a tidy college nest egg built up by his grandmother. I’ve made frequent mention of our trips to charity. None of it works, or I’m told “We don’t do it that way.”

    You know what worked? When the GPs visited last year (all three sets live far away), I left all the toys out. You could barely walk through the living room. Since then, the gifts have been scaled back. It’s glorious. We’ve gotten magazine subscriptions, a nice play set out back (counted as birthday and xmas present for the three kids together), and have been promised some more experience-type gifts. It was hard sounding ungrateful–I don’t feel entitled to their hard-earned money at all!–but I am so glad they understand we don’t have a playroom, don’t want a playroom, and we certainly aren’t going to pay for a storage unit!

    The kids are now involved in our de-cluttering/charity efforts. No fussing at all, thank goodness.
    Starr@ The Kiefer Cottage´s latest post: Today, Chess Club; Tomorrow, Nobel Prize.

  42. Moving countries works wonders for reducing the toy clutter! In addition to Grandparents not wanting to freight toys over we also had a huge clean out before our move and I got to donate all those toys that over the years I have hated.

    Living without the toy clutter is a fabulous feeling -I love that the kids don’t have so many junky toys. Our philosophy now is not to buy too much and also if we do buy something we will buy a quality toy that will last ages.

    Love the ideas for experience type gifts – I’m going to suggest it to the family for this year!

  43. Great tips! I love the idea of providing a list of ideas for experiences as gifts over more toys. Sometimes it can be hard to make the suggestion for fear of offending the grandparents or relatives but often as the kids get older, I think most will welcome the opportunity to have some ideas. I know my son’s grandparents are now asking what good gifts would be before they buy.
    Kimberly @ The Baby Sleep Site´s latest post: The Sleep Training Selfishishness Checklist

  44. Before every occasion where we’ll get gifts (Christmas, birthdays, Hanukkah, etc) and several other times throughout the year we’ll go on a toy purge. I’m lucky too in that my daughter gets really into it too, telling me “These are for the kids who don’t have any toys!” I do think it’s partially because I’ve never done the toy purge during naptime either. When she was a baby we had a roommate with kids who had WAY too many toys, it was completely out of control. Needless to say it got me very motivated to keep our chaos under control once they moved out.
    Jenna´s latest post: This is why I love my kid.

  45. avatar
    Stephanie says:

    I like your article but I think I am more attached to some of the toys in a “Toy Story” kind of way (possibly a “Hoarder’s way”)? One bite at a time is one tiny plastic tiny piece at a time for me. I keep thinking I want to save them for my child? They could be worth money later. Truth is I am sentimental to a fault and always hoping we have enough. I was raised with too many toys that we couldn’t really afford and as I think I read here or somewhere?, I was over stimulated and didn’t appreciate maybe just a few special toys.

    I have on a positive note sold toys on the internet, regifted and saved for a rainy day. All things that will help, along with donating. I want to follow this gift premise, Something you want, need, wear, read and donate.

    It is hard with Grandparents, some go overboard. I agree you have to ask for what you need if possible.

    It’s good to know that in this time of more is better, people, Simple Moms are trying to show us less is simple and more peaceful!
    A

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