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HELP me tell my MIL to stop buying STUFF!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Long story short- I am a wanna-be minimalist having a hard time de-cluttering, because my MIL (and other family members as well) keep on buying loads and loads of STUFF for the kids.

I have tried hundreds of subtle hints.

I have come out and told her very clearly, "don't buy her things! She doesn't need or want junk... she just wants to spend time with you."

I have directly said "no more stuffed animals" We still get garbage bags full of them.

She will tell Me "I won't give her anything next time" And EVERY TIME there is more and more and more stuff.

I throw it ALL away (or donate)... and the kids and I are fine with it... but my DD is 3, and someday she won't want to throw it away.. and I can see trouble on the line. Not to mention it is hard on the environment to buy all this stuff... and my MIL really can't afford any of it. Just to give a little scope of the problem- we are not talking a few toys here. EVERY TIME my kids have EVER seen my MIL, she gives them stuff. We see her several times a month. I have thrown away/ donated over 10 garbage bags FILLED with stuff in three short years. The last time my daughter spent the day with her she came home with a bag of clothes, 5 toys from Mcd's, and obnoxious electric guitar, and a gigantic plastic princess tea set.

So.. I am at the point where a letter is necessary. I need to convey to the family that we don't want tons of toys. Help me find the loving but FIRM words! I realize my MIL loves the joy of giving... but she has abused the privilege... and now I am at the end of my rope.
post #2 of 19
Does your MIL visit the kids at your house? Maybe if you can get ahead of her and do a major decluttering, you can show her your new "play room" or "toy area" or whatever. And explain that it's full, and each new thing that comes in means something will have to go out to make room for the new. Then stick to it. Would she notice that dozens of the toys she's bought over the past few weeks are already gone b/c there's no room for them, or does she not even know what she's giving the kids? (My sister will notice right away if a gift she's given DS is not among his mess of toys.)

Lots of people use bins to store their toys. Use one to fill up with donations. That'll keep everything neat, and when it's full you just drive it over to the Goodwill or whatever. If you need to be bolder, maybe label it DONATIONS and make a big show each time MIL comes with gifts that now DD has to put something in the DONATIONS bin to make room for her new stuff. I think if she sees you're serious about not keeping it, maybe she'll get the idea, especially if she's strapped for cash. I know I'd stop buying for kids who were just going to toss my gifts in a few weeks. I have better things to do with my money.

I have no idea if this will work, but I thought I'd try. Also, try suggesting things other than toys for your family to "do" for your kids -- zoo memberships, classes, clothes (unless that's a problem too), new "big girl" sheets or whatever else you might want/need that is not toys. Does your MIL bake? Maybe she could just bring cookies or a treat instead of a toy? Teach your kids a skill that will give them quality time with her instead of throwing a toy at them and calling it day?
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
great suggestions, but she definitely does not have any clue what she has bought. The play room is not cluttered, and even when I reference a specific toy we have kept, she has no recollection of giving it to her. 10 garbage bags of stuff is a lot of volume... and she has never once asked where any of it is. But, I have never come out and said that we gave it all away. I am afraid this would start a fight.
post #4 of 19
Those are good ideas. I've had friends encourage in-laws to give gifts of classes or memberships or outings, and it can sometimes work. You could also encourage her to get art supplies or baking supplies for a specific project that she can do with them. Maybe also mention to her that if she gives fewer and better quality things, the kids will appreciate the gifts more and remember them. Don't know what else to suggest, but I'm interested to hear what other people say. I'm worried we might run into this problem soon too! (about to have the first grandchild for both sides)
post #5 of 19
This reminds me of a similar thread about a MIL problem, maybe it contains some helpful information for you...here
post #6 of 19
Could you suggest she keep the stuff she buys at her house? Something like "we really dont' have the room for this stuff why don't you keep it there for her to play with there". Its harder to ignore how much junk you are buying someone if its staring you in the face.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
I do plan on my major suggestion to her being a change from "stuff" to time together/ classes etc.

I guess my biggest problems are that clutter is really only half of my issue. I really just don't want spoiled kids who get gads of presents every second. Right now I feel very extreme. I would love nothing more than to say NO more presents except ONE on b-day and ONE on xmas. But- I realize this is not going to happen. Help me set a clear limit- how much/ how often can she get presents???

Also- I feel like I need to describe to my MIL the philosophy behind not wanting clutter/ and not wanting my kids to feel entitled to junk. I am having a hard time coming up with the right words. Why do you want to be uncluttered?

Also- Is it reasonable for me to completely ban walmart, disney, mcdonalds (it is already banned for eating there... but she found a loop hole and took her there just for the toys... wow) and the like?

How selfish is it to "only allow" toys made of wood/ natural etc. Even though this solves some of the problem in that I would like the toys more- it doesn't solve the spoiled kids problems.

Also, as mentioned in the other thread... I definitely agree that she has a severe shopping addiction. I don't think she can stop, which is why I am trying to write this letter, and make some rules... so we can coexist! HELP!!
post #8 of 19
I wouldn't write that letter. I know you want your life to be easier as I do too but the banning of all plastics, wal mart, etc. I do not see as going well.
I would ask that she keep it at her house. You have some good strategies for working around the issue. You are certainly entitled to set some boundaries, but do be aware of the other side of the coin and the other person. Sounds like they need compassion as well if they are having shopping addiction issues. You are lucky your MIL loves your kid and wants to give them gifts and time.
post #9 of 19
straight up, you need to tell her that she is throwing away her money.

before my DS was born, i told both my ILs and my parents that any stuff we didn't want would go directly to a donation bin. my ILs love to pass on crap (anything cheap, honestly, that they can get at a tag sale, or from their basement, or from a friend); my parent's whole love language is objects. i just said no from the beginning.

now, they ask before they purchase, we send specific lists, and when we don't have anything in mind, we ask for money and put it into an account for him.

problem solved.

it's likely her love language is object oriented, but you can definitely put your foot down. i would just kindly explain to her that the majority of what she buys goes to the donation bin.
post #10 of 19
I agree that a letter detailing not only "no more gifts EVERY time you see them" but also no McD'sWalMartDisneyWhatever is just not going to go over well. It's too many "nos" for someone who isn't of that mindset to remember. (My mom tries very hard to follow my lengthy list of "rules" and STILL called me from WalMart to ask if she should buy my son the SpongeBob quilt she was looking at. He's never watched that show, and has no freaking clue who SpongeBob is...)

I would, however, point out that your MIL is buying so much stuff for them that she can't even remember from one time to the next what she brought them. How is a little kid going to remember? They're not expected to? Then what's the point? Tell her that she's loading them up with meaningless objects that they'll never remember owning, nevermind remember who gave it to them. But one special doll that will last into her adulthood, or a wooden car, or whatever will be cherished forever, AND they'll know exactly who gave it to them. Tell her you'd prefer for them to still have that car/doll/whatever when they leave for college/life, and be able to take it with them as their reminder of Nana. I think sometimes people load kids up with gifts so they'll be liked/remembered, but don't realize that with that much quantity it has the opposite effect. Time spent will be remembered and cherished. Special toys will be, too. Loads of plastic crap won't even be a blip on the consciousness radar tomorrow, let alone in a few years.
post #11 of 19
Is there anything it WOULD be acceptable for her to buy for your kids? My parents like to bring my kids gifts, but their gifts are nearly always books. But my philosophy is that it's hard to have too many books (plus, they're rarely made of plastic and seldom make obnoxious noises). I have gotten rid of nearly everything my MIL has ever sent because she has no clue what DD even likes, but we have tons upon tons of books that have all been read at least a few times.

Anyhow, I was thinking if you could divert her buying sprees to a more acceptable class of items, maybe that would help. My MIL won't buy off a list of save her life, but even she mostly does ok when she sends books.
post #12 of 19
it does help to divert. we were very clear about what would be ok, but that volume is still part of the equation for us, too.

right now, it's funding for art/crafting supplies. since we live in NZ, they send money (usually).
post #13 of 19
If you MIL doesn't listen to your words maybe you could show her how much staff she actually gives to you children by collecting all of unwanted items she has given for a period of time and bringing all that hoard to her house to see if she could store it for you, since you obviously don't have room for it anymore.
We have done it with certain types of toys MIL insisted on buying for DD, which we did not want. It seemed to get the point across and those types of toys stayed at her house and she has bought more to play with DD when she visits.
I know you MIL means well just like mine but we don't agree on every value.
post #14 of 19
I just came across a great article about grandparents and spending issues, on this site!

post #15 of 19
omg do we share a MIL last christmas my mother in law had to bring to cars yes thats rightTWO CARS to fit all the toys in it. I feel so bad getting rid of toys( yes we donate) that me do not need. I tell her spend the money on thier dance and martial arts stuff bit NO I tell her save that money from toys and take them somewhere fun like the movies, the toys they dont want it my MIL they want!

No advice just hugs because I am right therewith you!
post #16 of 19
Unless it is bday or xmas, anything the grandparents buy stays at the GRANDPARENTS house.

That's what we ended up doing and it worked out. They didn't want the crazy clutter either!

post #17 of 19
this is a huge issue for us as well, best of luck to you. nothing has stopped my MIL from buying trunk loads of crap for both DH me and soon DS. i dread how much crap we'll get this christmas.

my husband has two garbage bags full of the last few years of christmas gifts that will never be used. but, he won't throw them out - he's like her with the hoarding. both of them attach their feelings for the person to the gift they give/receive and therefore give the item a disportionate share of "value."
post #18 of 19
It is worrying that she does not remember buying your child certain toys... if there is a memory problem PLUS a shopping problem she may need some significant intervention. I think your husband needs to be the one to communicate with his Mom - very firmly. Make a list of what gifts you will accept and when. Decide in advance of the consequences of buying something not on the list (it stays at grandmas!)

It would be pretty rude, but you could try demanding that everything be unopened and with a receipt .. then you return things and put the money in a college fund.
post #19 of 19
Originally Posted by SleeplessMommy View Post
It is worrying that she does not remember buying your child certain toys... if there is a memory problem PLUS a shopping problem she may need some significant intervention. I think your husband needs to be the one to communicate with his Mom - very firmly. Make a list of what gifts you will accept and when. Decide in advance of the consequences of buying something not on the list (it stays at grandmas!)
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