Friday, April 1, 2011


My sister and I are planning a garage sale for this summer. In the process of this, we both started talking about the amount of stuff, specifically toys, our children have.

I feel like the stuff is taking over my life and possibly leading my children to believe that they can have whatever they want whenever thus leading to ... brats.

We have been blessed with friends and relatives who like to buy for the girls. We like to buy things for them. But when you start adding it up, there becomes a gluttony of toys that no one child could possibly play with regularly.

We have two toy boxes and multiple bins full of toys, most of which haven't seen the light of day for quite awhile. The husband I got sick of picking up the village of Little People toys - barn, house, amusement park, nativity scene - that we packed them all away. I don't think Peanut even noticed.

My mother-in-law (my lovely mother-in-law who has been so helpful in the past few weeks, watching the girls for us) and I were talking this morning about all of the toys. She loves buying for the girls, especially since she had three boys, but she said that she doesn't remember having so many dolls and other things as a kid. I don't either.

I could go into a rant about how kids are targeted by marketing, creating little gimme, gimme, gimme beings. But we also bear some responsibility. We don't always have to say "yes" when they want.

I want to change the path we are on. I don't want our house overtaken by plastic play things that are pulled out of the box only to be played with once or twice and shoved into the depths of a closet or toy box.

I started thinking about alternative gifts for the girls. Things like experience gifts, such as zoo passes or children's museum passes. We live within 90 minutes of two wonderful zoos, have a great children's museum 20 minutes away and another two near the zoos.

I also like the idea of magazine subscriptions. It's the gift that keeps on giving and I won't feel so bad throwing them in the recycling bin or using them for craft time.

Do you ever feel like your kids have too much? What about alternative gift ideas?


Sarah said...

Great post, Michelle! I have been thinking about this A LOT lately!!! My mom and dad got Logan a High Five (like Highlights but for the younger set) subscription for his 2nd birthday. It was a great gift. I really, really, really want to get rid of some of our toys. I think I will probably wait until Jake is a little older, but they definitely have to go!!

Lisa said...

We have a lot of toys, too. I have one bookcase with baskets with "set one" of toys, and another "set" in a cabinet. We rotate them out every couple of weeks and it's like a whole new set of toys each time. I do try to gently guide gift-givers about "educational" or "experience" gifts, too, but somehow we ended up with a whole wooden kids' workbench this past's adorable but like another piece of furniture in the already crowded house. Oh well!

d e v a n said...

I go through about every 3 months and get rid of toys, because YES my kids have WAY TOO MUCH and there are FOUR of them so that's a lot of crap.
We try to just regularly donate, but it can get overwhelming.

~she~ said...

I totally agree. I went through this mode of thinking a few years back. The good thing is that the amount of toys decrease as your children age. My boys would rather have iPods, e-readers, and cell phones. Maybe that's not so good after all...

k said...

A few months ago, T looked at me and said, "No more toys until birthday." It just kind of seemed like we, probably fresh off the heels of Christmas too, had too much.

We keep toys in the playroom, in Ezra's closet and baby toys for Iris in her basket in the living room. If it can't be put away in one of those three places, I don't want it. I also regularly put things in the closet that aren't being played with as much.

I love the idea of the magazine and think Ezra may get one for his birthday. (Or I could keep giving him the Christmas one from Target. Heh.)

(Dude, my Word Verification was "alize." Friday night! HOLLA!)

twisterfish said...

I rotate toys every couple of months, and it's gotten to where the "hidden" toys are never mentioned, even if I forget to put them back in circulation. So off they go (sell or give away). Instead of new toys I like to purchase board games or books. Can't wait for my house to be free of primary colored plastic!

Shauna said...

We ask for memberships to the zoo and COSI. For Brady's bday this year, he received gift cards to Dick's for all of his baseball gear and only 2 toys. He didn't really complain; we were able to distract him with cake :) I think it's a great idea to ask for those "experience" gifts. They will learn so much more from the zoo, museums, and the like, than any toy we could ever provide.

Jkplusone said...

That's funny I was just thinking about all of the stuff my daughter has after putting it back for the fifth time today as i was trying to get our house ready for a showing. I finally shut the door to her room and only felt a little guilty about it (seeing as bending over to pick up toys is getting a little more complicated these days as i am very pregnant).i don't know if others experience this but some of the toys get bought from her acting like it makes her the happiest girl in the world in the store, then once home it collects dust on the shelf. I read somewhere to tell your child that the toy lives in the store but don't always follow through on this. I I am trying to aim at receiving/ buying toys with less pieces/parts and love the idea of a magazine subscription, zoo pass, etc for gifts!

The Luedtke Family said...

My brother in law started a book a month gift for my children. I told him it was a very generous gift, and that it should for a Christmas and birthday gifts for both of my children! I do not buy books, and we now have one shelf full of the early readers - very Doctor Seuss like. My kids LOVE seeing the box/envelope in the mailbox each month and shake with excitement at new books. It is a great gift, especially now that my boy is an early reader.

I hear you on the toys. We try to reign it in, but somehow we always have a good garage sale sign.

I did hear a radio story once of how parents allow the kids to have only so many toys at a time (I want to say 5 or 10), excluding books and games. This includes Christmas and birthday gifts. I am not that drastic.

We started the Saturday Box. The kids get 20-30 minutes to clean. Then "Butts on the couch" is declared as the buzzer goes of. Then whatever is left behind is put into a bucket until Saturday. First thing Saturday morning is cleaning the Saturday Box until it is clean. Now we may shift to if a toy is abandoned, but not put away, it may just disappear to the Saturday Box. Cleaning up has improved!