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advice on how to handle shop-happy grandparents

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi all!  I am expecting my first this summer!!  We don't live a completely minimal lifestyle but cI would say compared to 90% of people, we live minimally.  We are interested in transitioning to a more minimal lifestyle which seems counterintuitive with a baby on the way.  I made a list last night of what I consider essentials, (but really have no clue) and I'm working on ways to whittle down our use of plastic etc going forward.  

 

I have registered at a local store that only sells eco friendly products, and have only registered for so far for stuff that i know i will need like cloth diapers and inserts.  

 

My parents were in town last week and were VERY helpful.  they bought us a crib, which was new and quite pricey, and they bought a few furnishings for the nursery as well.  They really wanted to help, and although not everything I got is essential, most of it is at least useful. I did get talked into buying some things that I will be returning (like a pack n play)

 

now my question is, how do we get them to not give us things that we don't need?  and how do i know what is essential so im not talked into buying more stuff that i will change my mind on?   I want then to know that we are grateful for their help, but that we try to live simply, and don't ned the extra frills.  now they live differnetly then i do, and they actually do consider things like a pack n play necesary, but its not, right?  I'd rather just get a co sleeper from craigslist.

 

my daughter's other set of grandparents are very wal mart and overstimulating plastic crap toy happy and they will be the real issue to tackle.

 

is there a polite way to deal with this, or do we just say thank you, and then resell it if it is truly unuseful.  I have multiple other questions for seasoned moms and appreciate the help!!!  thank you!!!

post #2 of 13

All my family lives far away so I tell them we have everything we need and if they send things anyway I use it for a while, take some pictures of baby using it that I make sure they see, and then consign it.

post #3 of 13

I generally let them shop- then return, sell or give away anything we don't need. Also I slip comments into the conversation all the time about how we are trying to live simply- how I just got rid of a lot and it's making it so so much easier to manage the house, how the kids seem to be doing much more creative play now that they have less toys, things like that. 

 

They actually seem to be getting it slowly- I've heard comments from a lot of people giving us presents like "I know you don't have a lot of space, so I got a smaller one." Not really what I want, but an improvement I guess? Some people don't get it at all, they say "well I will hold onto this China set for you until you get a bigger place." LOL. But that's my Grandma who will probably never get it.  My mom seems to care more about simplifying- it took about 2-3 years for her to get to this point but hey I am not complaining. It helps that we are working on downsizing my Grandma's place so she can move to a retirement type apartment soon. My mom sees the huge amounts of stuff that will never get used and she's been downsizing her own house because said she doesn't want me to get stuck with a ton of crap when her time comes. So don't despair, change is possible, it just doesn't happen over night :)

post #4 of 13

I am not a minimalism expert, but DH and I have decided that it is our goal to move towards simplicity in 2012 and live more simplistically and minimally.  So, I guess my advice is as an aspiring minimalist who has shop-happy parents and in-laws!

 

My advice would be to tell your parents and in-laws why it's important to you to not have a bunch of "stuff" that you don't need.  You may be surprised and they may respect it.  They may not.  With my mom, she shows love by buying things (one of the five "love languages"), which of course, doesn't work well with my minimalistic goals.  I will usually re-gift or return things we don't need or want or tell her she can keep it at her house.  Sometimes she'll make a point of saying she wants me to keep something, like a toy truck she bought DS recently.  They went on a walk together, she took him to the toy store, and he picked it out.  So, we've kept it for now but when DS grows tired of it I will sell it.  My inlaws (they would be the Walmart happy folks) have actually been really respectful and for Christmas bought things that were on DSs list because we explained WHY we wanted open-ended, imagination type toys.  He got wooden blocks from them.  Perfect.

 

I think how you let your parents know that you are grateful is by being honest with them, saying that you are grateful.  They might not "get it" right away (like my parents), but at some point they'll at least sort-of get it (hopefully).

 

You really do "need" so little.  My suggestion to avoiding extra "stuff" would be to make a list, post it here or in a due date club or life with a babe forum, get it vetted by some experienced moms, and then stick to it.  If you get stuff you don't want, try to return it to the store.  For example, I've returned a bunch of DS's gifts to Walmart or Toys R Us (without a receipt) and then used the money I get back on gift cards to buy essentials like diapers, baby socks, pj's, clothes for DH or myself, or gifts for friends, etc. 

 

Anyway, I am still working on living more simply and being more minimalistic but I hope some of this works for you!

post #5 of 13

This is so true, my mom and grandma's (her mom) love language is totally buying things. That's why I have just let them or tried to gently steer them towards things we do need.  It can deeply hurt them for me to be harsh about it. Thankfully they don't live close so they don't see how much I get rid of. If you have someone that lives close, maybe just simply tell them you do not have enough room?

post #6 of 13

This is tough.  With my first daughter I was completely overwhelmed with all the stuff we were given.  Worst of all, the one thing I wanted (cloth diapers) we didn't get.  If they show love by buying thing try to steer them in the right direction.  Educate them on some of the things you want to do when the baby is born and show them your excitement about living efficiently and enjoying the baby without an influx of stuff to worry about.

 

Giving things away and taking things back didn't work for me after my daughter was born.  The early postpartum period is busy and quite a change to adapt to...who wants to go out of their way to return gifts?  Also with your first you're always nervous you might need something, just because it's there...its tough to get rid of things because you don't know if you should. 

 

I had one room full of stuff I didn't know what to do with and then the stuff started crawling out into other rooms too.  If I can't be organized...meaning if I don't have a place for everything I have I become messy, depressed, low-energy.  I don't know if others are like this, but the freedom of simplicity is something worth "fighting" for...for sure.

 

You have to let them know how you feel, just try to do it as nicely as possible and perhaps by distracting them with different types of cloth diapers or whatever you might be into that IS useful and necessary.  Perhaps you could ask them to invest in a list of things you might need help with:  a photographer for post-partum pictures, a membership to a CSA, music for birth or bedtime w/baby,

post #7 of 13

Octolars, I had the same dilemma as you when we had our first last May.  My mother-in-law's love language is gift giving and so the more cheap, cutesy, crappy little knick-knacks she can buy, the better.  I made a huge point of repeating how I didn't want to raise our baby with a lot of stuff and that we were getting a lot of toys as gifts and it was becoming overwhelming, etc.  I would just bring it up like "wow, we have so much stuff!  We might have to give some away!"  I also do what one of the other moms mentioned - use the toy for a couple of weeks, take pictures, and then give it away.  So I guess we sort of have a toy rotation at our house and it works.  She never asks about the toys and gifts because she can't always remember what she bought (there are so many things).  But, we have kept it down to one round basket of toys (about 1 ft in diameter and 6 in tall) for the entire year :)  I don't feel bad because I know when I give it away, I am passing on the gift to someone who may have the opposite problem: not any toys for their children and I think my mother-in-law would appreciate knowing that someone who needs it is using it.

post #8 of 13

I think I am going to have to tell my mom again that we are out of room, that I have to give away some stuff because I am overrun with stuff and overwhelmed. It's starting to feel crowded again.  And I keep track of how much comes in and goes out because were were trying to see how many less possessions we have at the end of the year than we did at the beginning, and that total has been going down not up. My kids are getting old enough that things can't just disappear anymore. I'm going to have to donate some things though because there is too much.

post #9 of 13

I am fortunately still at the point where I can dictate that what Grandma buys for Moo stays at Grandma's house. Once he starts wanting to take stuff home we will need to develop a system, so I'm keeping my eyes on you mamas and watching what you're doing for this. My main plan thus far has been to just continually purge, but that gets exhausting after a while, no?

post #10 of 13

I disclaim to everyone, whether friend or family that if we don't need it, it will be donated. This caused a lot of conflict in the beginning, but I stuck with my guns and explained that I am trying to raise the kids to not be materially minded and to teach them to live more simply, and after having some really good conversations with family and friends, I have found that once people drop their defense's and I show them that I respect their personal philosophy and lifestyle choices, there is a place of common ground that is reached where we can all just get back to being humans and learn from one another's perspective. Our family and friends now asks before they gets anything for the kids, and birthdays and holidays are met with sturdy non made in china plastic disposable toys, but books, clothes, art supplies and more meaningful things that the children actually need (and of course, desire).

post #11 of 13

I disclaim to everyone, whether friend or family that if we don't need it, it will be donated. This caused a lot of conflict in the beginning, but I stuck with my guns and explained that I am trying to raise the kids to not be materially minded and to teach them to live more simply, and after having some really good conversations with family and friends, I have found that once people drop their defense's and I show them that I respect their personal philosophy and lifestyle choices, there is a place of common ground that is reached where we can all just get back to being humans and learn from one another's perspective. Our family and friends now asks before they gets anything for the kids, and birthdays and holidays are met with sturdy non made in china plastic disposable toys, but books, clothes, art supplies and more meaningful things that the children actually need (and of course, desire).

post #12 of 13

I am dealing with this "issue" right now as well, and am really worried about what will happen at my son's 1st birthday party next week.  We actually didn't invite many of our friends because of the gift issue (and wanting to keep the party simple and focused on my son) - very few people we know support our minimalistic lifestyle and actually get somewhat offended when we bring it up at all (I guess they feel that we're judging them somehow by being different than them).  Anyway our immediate family knows that we prefer not to have any toys bought for our son, but after Christmas (when many things were purchased for him that we will not be able to keep) I am worried that my parents (the worst offenders) will buy him big plastic gifts again for his birthday.  They act like we're crazy for not wanting toys for ds and say "too bad we're getting him toys because he needs them" (ugh).  If any of you have family members like this how do you deal with it?  I don't want to be ungrateful for the thought and money they put into his gifts but we still will not clutter up our home and atmosphere with plastic toys and stuff that just overwhelm our ds.  

post #13 of 13
Our families know our stance on this so they have two choices.
1) Consult with us on what they want to give and we'll try to work with them
2) Know that anything the do give that doesn't fit our lifestyle is up for going in the donation box

Since they know we are serious they've been much more willing to work with us. My parents thought of a few ideas for D's"s birthday and we picked one we liked/were planning on getting anyways. The in laws came for Christmas with a car full of toys my sis in laws children had outgrown without asking us if we wanted them. We kept a couple of small wooden ones and sent the rest back. They weren't happy about it, but it's not like they didn't know better. Everytime we don't take the junk, they bring less the next time so we are making progress ...slowly
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