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Suggestions for simplifying-please help!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I hope this is the right area to put this in, bear with me please...lately I am just disgusted with the way we have loaded hundreds of toys and junk on my ds. Our home is wall to wall plastic....junk. What would total thousands of dollars in toys from us, relatives, friends...it is really too much! Most of it doesn't even get played with, just thrown around. Ds is only 18 months old-I would like to start getting rid of these things immediately, weeding through them and afterwards bringing in more simple, thought inspiring, imaginative things.
What do I do with all of them? I can't just throw them away, many of them were thoughtful gifts...does anyone have any suggestions? Have you done this? Or know of a place where I can at least donate them?
This is bothering me so much, I have to it soon! Help!
Thanks so much!

Does anyone want some free toys?
post #2 of 19
I re-gift, consign, donate to local kid's hospital and donate to goodwill. The hospital loves that chunky plastic stuff. It's easy for them to clean. I get great little checks from the consignment store every time I stop by. So cool.
Just keep several boxes set-up in the garage or extra room. Walk around the house chanting "beautiful or useful?" ; soon your boxes will be full.
post #3 of 19
I keep a stash of such toys in the garage for "those days" or rainy days. My kids love when we're having a long day to get a special garage toy treat- the sit & spin is their favorite. I only have like 10 toys in trhe garage at a time, and bring them in when I really feel like doing the dishes alone, or they're just plain tired of their toys. After they get bored of the garage toys we donate them- women's shelters and WIC offices and places like that are normally quite thankful for good functioning toys. I even donated some bigger toys to the pediatric unit in the hospital.

It is ok to go slow, there is no need to change the playroom in 4 days. Do one initial combing- what you can donate for that time- and call it good for a month or two. Then comb through again... before long the playroom will be full of your ideal toys. I started real young combing and donating toys (we are toy-aholics, DH and I love toys!) and the girls figure it part of normal life to pick out toys to give to the "boys and girls with no toys". Sometimes they choose to donate toys I love though, so it can backfire :LOL If it is a toy DH and I love to play with them (like K'nex or magnetic builders) I will say "Daddy and Mommy want to choose to keep that" but if it is a toy only they play with, then I let them choose.

We do buy mostly wooden and imaginative play things, but get gifted the occasional toy we don't really like- those are the garage toys. We comb through and donate all the toys though, so we can room for more We take a picture with the donation pile each time so they have something to reflect on and SEE for the actions- they really like that.
post #4 of 19
What great ideas, Rainbow!!! So far I have kept our toys in check, and hope to weed out a few before Christmas. BTW, do you ever just return a toy still in it's box after Christmas? I thought of doing that to a few last year, but felt bad returning them since a thoughtful member of the family got it... This year I don't think I will have any conscience problems. I will just put the $$ in a bank account for college or something. Also, do you let family know what your kids would like, or does that sound rude? My DD is the only grandchild, and great-grandchild on BOTH sides, so it got out of hand last year (only 2 clothing gifts, the rest was toys ).
post #5 of 19
Personally, one of the things I want my kids to learn is to be thankful and gracious, and for us that means if we are gifted, we keep it and we even use it. That said, we don't celebrate holidays and never have a huge slew of new toys at once. I might feel different if I had to experiece that.

Most our family can tell/see from visiting what kind of toys we really like. Some go outside our ideals- but most actually got into our "classic" toys. We use that word instead of "wooden" "educational" They seem to respect the like of old classics for some reason.

I don't know holiday etiquette, but don't alot of families makes lists and suggestions?
post #6 of 19
I'm getting into this too because a kind relative of mine has been giving me her ds's outgrown clothing...and toys...I'm not so into Barney etc. But i've kept some of the plastic junk because DS likes it (the ones that sing songs!). I'm considering what to do with it all because it really is junk.
my way of managing the volume is to store away some toys in the big closet and kind of ration them out. otherwise they're everywhere and he gets bored anyway. i think i would keep this up even with more quality toys. it works well.

also definitely give your family etc clues and hints about what kinds of toys or gifts you'd like your child to have...i find they welcome it.

rainbow, that's a good thought about being thankful.
post #7 of 19
on gift returning.
if it is a local friend/relative and they will care if we have it around (despite it being annoying or whatever)...yep I keep it.

if it is distant I will return it with no guilt whatsoever. If the clothes didn't fit I would feel no harm in returning it...the toy doesn't fit us (we got two noisey singing ball thingys last christmas. took em both back and bought some blocks with the $$).

we also have a list of things dd needs so that when it becomes gift time and someone asks what she might "want" I can say "we really need a snowsuit in size 12 months" or "erin REALLY liked the wooden puzzle you sent last year, hint hint". I think it also helps to think ahead to what you might like -- this year we're doing kitchen related stuff for christmas. so I think most of the distant relatives are buying related stuff.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you, for the good ideas. I really feel at my wits end with all of these-isn't it ridiculous, to be stressed out over toys?! In truth, I felt guilty posting this thread, thinking it sounded like I was complaining-imagine, whining because you have too much!! But that really wasn't what I was trying to do, that is why I wanted to do something good with them, something useful. I guess I can start by trying to find somewhere to donate them, I just wasn't sure where to begin.
My ds is the first and only grandchild to my mom...so, I really blame her for most of this. I have already talked to both my mom and my dh's parents and said, no toyd for Christmas or birthday this year-and went into my whole explanation. I recommended things like a simple easel, a small table (nature table)w/chairs, etc. We just bought our first house, so in her excitement, my mom ran out and bought him a $250 playhouse, for the yard. I'm battling some strong forces here!
Anyway, again, thanks for the suggestions. Wish me luck!
post #9 of 19
We have definitely gone to the extreme at our house. My kids only have a few toys (maybe 3 or 4 a piece) and the rest is in the garage. Our reason for this is because they have SO MUCH, they get very overwhelmed with more than just a few at a time (99% of toys bought by well-meaning consumeristic grandparents). Even the few that they have they dont really play with very much and there is no whining about hauling junk out of the garage either(btw, we also put the tv in the closet and disconnected the digital cable).
They make up lots of games and play together, make wonderful sculptures out of mud clay, draw, paint, read, we cook together, sew together, chase each other outside, make forts, ect. There has been MUCH less fighting and squabbling over little silly stuff, more time having fun together.
Dh and I take turns reading chapter books to them at night, then rush the kiddies off to be so we can play games too (backgammon, senat, mancala, cards).
We have not only done this with their things but ours as well. Our house is very simple now instead of cluttered, not a lot in it (the only clock we have is on the computer ) and it has been sooooo nice, and very easy to keep clean!!
This has taken about 3 months to slowly weed things out, but everyone in our house has benefitted immensely and we all are much happier and our house is a peaceful place.
Just thought I would share our experience
post #10 of 19
Our ds1 has tons of toys but he doesn't play with them! He's much more entertained with a pile of fuzz that will keep hi ocupied for 3 hours as opposed to a toybox full of toy he only throws around for 10 minutes.

I went through and only kept out the toys I've seen him play with. I put the rest in a box. I get them out and swap with the toys he is bored with our save them for trips.

It has really helped. Our ds2 loves toys. He is able to occupy himself and loves it! So, with him we keep out a few more but use the same concept.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
It's true, ds plays with some of it, but I really think he is overwhelmed and just not interestes in all of them. My dh is constantly saying, "He never even plays with his toys...."
Arrggghhhh, I'm trying-there is just so much. Little by little I chug along, mamas. I appreciate your thoughts and opinions, it's easy for me to say I'm going to do it...then put it off, time and time again. I come back here everyday to motivate myself!! I've got one big box loaded up...
post #12 of 19
My mom saw me ebaying new toys, she became more aware of her buying after that. We usually shop together now for xmas and bdays.

I have taken the MOSt annoying gifts the grandparents have purchased and put them in a box. Then I ask, "We have so many toys, is there anyway that I could bring a little box of toys over so the kids can play with them while they are here?" Worked like a charm. ALl of the super annoying loud obnoxious toys live at my moms.

I took the plain ole cheap and crappy toys to Goodwill. Hopefully someone who can find some worth in them will pick them up there.

Everytime I clean up, I look for toys that can be culled. Is it broken? Do we play with it? Do we value this toy? Is it developmentally appropriate? Some toys my daughter is not ready to enjoy but will be later. THose go in a box in the closet.

I currently have an ET doll that was mine when I was very small. It should go, but it was mine. Eventually, I will take out my frustration on the clutter on that doll and it will go.

Make an amazon wish list for your kids. Send grandparents there. Ask for cool magazine subscriptions for holidays.

We are getting better, Ohh and a toy organizer really makes a difference.
post #13 of 19
We've donated to our local childrens hospital - BUT, only toys that could easily be washed or sterilised.

The rest went to our local family shelter .. since most of the kids that arrive there have little more than the clothes on their backs.
post #14 of 19
This is a great thread. It's really given me food for thought about ds's first Christmas. I love exchanging Christmas presents, but I want to make sure things stay resonable. It's kinda hard though when you receive a lot of gifts because on the one hand you don't want to reject the generosity of others, but OTOH, it's very easy for all of the "stuff" to take over and make you

I just wanted to pipe in to say that child care centers and preschools are also good places to donate toys. If they can't use the toy at the center they often know families that would appreciate them.

Good luck to everyone to fend off the bearers of Holiday Crap
post #15 of 19

I feel your pain

I know exactly what you're going through. Michael and I went through this with the boys when they were small; and it's an ongoing issue in our home, particularly when we have 3 out of 4 grandparents who just don't get the concept that one nice toy is more appreciated than 10 cheap ones .
We're trying to get off on the right foot with Rachel, and from the looks of her birthday party today we are having some success. : . One of my SIL's had a friend make her the most adorable quilt (shaped like a teddy bear with raggedy edges, fleece - too adorable!). We still need to work on the rest of the family I guess.
With the boys we have taken this route. First time (when they were about your sons age) we just cleaned out everything ourselves and gave it away. Second time they were about 7 & 8 - we had a HUGE yard sale (I spent 3 months going through the house, cleaning and tagging as I went - we made $800 in 3 days, but it was a lot of prep work). This year we are faced with the same problem, they are now 10 and 11. I just talked with them about it tonight because they are having a tough time keeping their room clean. So we're going to Ebay some and Freecycle the rest. They get 1/2 the cash from ebay to buy something new (with restrictions). I keep 1/2 because I do ALL the listing work and because it costs $$ to list. Last time they bought a marble rail set and a scooter (we still have both and will probably sell them this time - LOL). By involving them in the process they feel more in control of the situation and are less likely to act out or throw a fit (but MOOOOOM - I don't want to get rid of my XXXX!!!!) Ben said that tonight about a toy he found and I just reminded him that we're doing this to make room for his new interests. He's growing up and his tastes are changing and how much does he really use XXXX? And he just looked at me and said "OH.... Yeah, and smiled a bit, because he knows he will be able to add to his growing collection of CD's out of the profits.
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
Updating...not that ya'll care , but I boxed up about 3/4 of the "junk!" It feels so good, the house seems so....tidy! I just bought Colin a few new playsilks, he played with those things in the living room, dancing, whipping them aropund, happy as can be for a good 45 minutes. It was wonderful-imagine all that flashy, fancy, noisy crap....and a simple piece of fabric does the trick. Gotta love it. today he got into a smaller box I had all packed up, opened it and played on the floor for a while. Not having it all thrown around and overwhelming really makes a difference. Ahhhhh, it's like a weight has been lifted.....

.....of course, there is still tons more to do.
post #17 of 19
KyleAnn - congrats! It's amazing how good it feels to declutter!

We, too, have toy questions. I buy most of my son's toys at garage sales, so we have a lot stacked up in the basement, but I don't expect him to play with them all. I just want different toys to try and see what interests him (and I don't waste money if he doesn't like something). I go for the classics and wood as well, with some plastic stuff stuck in (like legos, bristle blocks, a few bath toys). I have actually bought him some new stuff, too, but mostly it's for when he's a little older and can build things. Right now, we have a kitchen set up (with accessories), blocks, instruments, cars, books, and puzzles in the family room, but some days, it seems like too much, although I know that they are basic toys that can be very open ended.

For gifts, we are relatively lucky. I agree that we need to be gracious about gifts. And, overall we're lucky. My sister knits all of my son's gifts and my mom knits or gives him my old toys (plus college money). My IL's are a little more challenging. They don't live nearby and I have returned a couple of toys they have given my son (we usually give them a book list and this year MIL is going to start paying the membership for the children's museum - yah!). One thing she gave us was a chicken dance elmo. Yuck. That isn't even useful. I can think of a few plastic toys that I wouldn't mind having -- but a dancing elmo?

gaiamom - I cut and pasted your post (I hope you don't mind) as a reminder that he doesn't really need a lot.
post #18 of 19
Gaiamom - I'd love to hear more about how you went about culling your home and making it so simple. We are working on doing that here. Maybe a New thread?

BTW - My boys room is currently empty except for furniture and the mini-tv they had for their Playstation (The PS has been revoked for now - too much time wasted){I don't have naywhere else to keep it - it just sits quietly in the corner]. I took ALL of their toys - and only left two sets of games (an 11 in 1 mulitgame set and a tin of card games), so they HAVE to play together, play outside, or read. Those are their only options for 2 weeks. I know it sounds extreme to some - but the problem had become extreme. They both seem happy. They have fought less and been less cranky with me. I think I have heard "I'm bored" only once or twice since Saturday. I'll keep you posted
BTW - my boys are almost 10 and 11.
post #19 of 19
What I have done to simplify the toy situation is to put things into those plastic tubs. I have 6 (I think) that are small enough for DD (18 months old) to carry. SHe is allowed one box open at a time. The boxes are sorted like this:

Mr. Potato head
dress up (hats, wings, ect. not make up or anything, just regular dress up)
soft toys (small stuffed animals, and soft books)
plastic stuff (little people animals, knock-knock, toy cars, ect.)
baby toys (stuff she doesn't use anymore, like teethers and rattles, for baby's who visit)

On her very small bookcase is a box of playsilks, shape sorter, small box of blocks, ball, peek-a-block giraffe that she has literally NEVER played with, and a toy phone, along w/ a TON of books, and a few puzzles. She is allowed to play with those whenever, and knows where everything goes. AT naptime a nd bedtime she helps me to put it all away. She is perfectly capable of putting all the toys in a box I keep the crayons and stuff in the office, and she knows where they go as well. This has helped tremendously, and I really don't know how a kid is expected to play with toys when they have so many. I do think my DD plays with most everything she has. Today she is playing w/ the dress-up box, and her crayons. That's it! No mess drug out everywhere Yesterday it was Mr. Potato head, and crayons. BTW, this also helps when you have grandma or a babysitter help pick up, everything still stays where it is supposed to go. DD also knows that she has to put one box up to play with another.
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