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How to Deal With Relatives Who Like to Contribute Clutter - Page 2

post #21 of 43
Remember, no matter what tact you take, it will take some time for your MIL to really "get it". Even though, my MIL is getting better by giving gift certificates, she still succumbs to the Dollar Store, the sale at Ross, the thrift store find. We do always try to thank her for her big heart/wallet/intent even if we don't really approve of the item in question.

My Dh is pretty honest with her about getting rid of stuff. If she asks about it an item later, he tells her we had to get rid of it due to space/clutter issues or that the kids have stopped using it. It does hurt her feelings but she has a short memory about those things. If it is icky clothes she is giving, we explain that our children are not walking billboards and it would be great if she could return the item. She loves brand names. But my son is named Jack not "Tommy" as in Hilfiger and my 2yo doesn't need blinged-out track suits a la J.LO. She doesn't like this too much either. We have told her it is best to check with us first about clothes or to take us with her to go shopping.

The woman is at the mall so much, we joke she has her own parking spot there.

But, really, that singing duck spoke to her clearer than we ever did. :LOL
post #22 of 43
And geesh way to make me sound like a wench - I'd like them to buy toys that we won't throw away - not just "better toys".
WHOA, nelly, don't blame me for your (mis)interpretation!

I merely took your words and applied them to how I'd feel in the same situation!


post #23 of 43
Thread Starter 
My IRL friend came up with an idea - she told me to just rave about all the really great learning toys that MY MOTHER has been buying the kids and how much they love them. That will get her whole psycho competition vibe going and she'll have to compete on the same level. :LOL

And if that fails... it's on to having a duck do the talking.
post #24 of 43
I have no problem telling people not to buy my child crap. In her birthday invites I sent a very nice letter stating:

"As many of you may know, we are a very natural family and we are trying to make our household as natural as possible. We limit the amount of toys and stuff our daughter has so that she is able to enjoy each item to it's fullest.
That being said, a gift is not required, just your presence is appreciated.
However, if you would still like to give our daughter a gift for her birthday, please get her either wood or cloth, non-battery operated toys. That way our natural family can keep as natural of a house as possible.
Thank you very much,
Our family"

No one was offended and no got her any plastic stuff. In fact, she got some awesome wood toys. You may have to give some pointers for good toy stores cause almost everyone called me asking where they should go cause they hadn't heard of having wood toys anymore.
post #25 of 43
We are clear with our family that we are not into plastic, battery toys and they know that those toys will get played with for a bit while they are around and then they will get donated to a good cause (sent a big bag to Jackson, MISS. today). In some cases they still get him some cleap platic stuff to play with and we left him have it for a bit and then donate it. Otherwise, we are clear with people and they know the fate of toys we aren't into. There is nothing wrong with that. We also tell them not to curse or smoke around him, we tell then what he does and does not eat - he's our kid, we are paretns, seems obvious to me that this is totally within reason.

That said, we never direct people to specific toys but to genres (ie. wooden blocks, wooden trains, dress-ups, art supplies, books, etc). I don't feel comfortable saying - get him this (although it is abummer when they spend money on him and he doesn't even play with that stuff). We also reward people for getting him good topys - lots of positive feedback when we love it (like dh's grandparents who have found a wooden toy maker in their small town and they buy things from him for all the holidays and they are awesome!). Also, when people ask what he might like I try to talk to them about what interests him (ie. "A's really into his trains right now and loves to make art projects. He could also use something more exciting for the bath tub or some cotton pjs." or "A's really in love with wooden animals and 30+ piece puzzles - he won't play with his xxx anymore, but he does love marbles and anything he could do with them, etc).

Good luck!

We are huge toy purgers and it feels so good!
post #26 of 43
Thread Starter 
Thanx - lots of good advice here. I'm going to start planting the seeds and see how it goes...
post #27 of 43
I think it's amazing that given do-it-for-you toys and use-your-imagination toys these kids are most often choosing the toys that they must "play" with.


I think following their lead, being open to their discoveries, playing with them we will find out exactly what they want.

I want to offer up some other ideas:
-making your own toys or encouraging grandparents and gift givers to do so
-finding free toys...ie acorns, branches to cut into blocks, seashells and gem stones
-refurbishing old toys from say secondhand stores
-gathering clothes, hats, purse boots things for a dress-up chest

My favorite gifts are those from the heart and not the wallet. My kids understand this and often give other children gifts they have made.

And I would also like to add that I don't believe that kids need much in the way of toys. They know how to play and play all day at the beach, in the backyard, in the bathtub-toys are not required to have fun.

post #28 of 43
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Zoo Loo Naturals
And I would also like to add that I don't believe that kids need much in the way of toys. They know how to play and play all day at the beach, in the backyard, in the bathtub-toys are not required to have fun.
ITA. And being toy clutter free feels sooooooooooooo good

Lovely ideas, thank you.
post #29 of 43
My husband has a group of second cousins who all have something genetically amiss...They're all on social assistance and have very limited funds. They have taken to spoiling our dd with items they find at the second hand store. I have no problem with second hand stuff at all but they seem to always find the broken toys or clothes with holes in them. It's been three and a half months and I've literally gotten bags and bags of stuff. However, I'm honoured that they're choosing to spend the little money they have on our little baby. As "junkie" as a lot of this stuff can be, I'm hoping it will teach the little one a lesson in accepting gifts gracefully. Maybe the clothes can be used to teach her to sew (mend, darn, etc...) and we can fix the toys together??

On the other hand, my parents (mother, in particular) feel that they know best what to get the baby and are intent on spoiling her (no matter how many protests). I'm not as concerned about clutter as I am about the greed factor. I'm also against baby getting more for Christmas from Grandma & Grandpa than from Mum & Dad. Any advice on stopping truckloads of presents??
post #30 of 43
Both sets of grandparents know how we feel about toys. We like toys that foster imagination. But that said we still have some Elmo stuff (plush ones) and some Dora figures that play w all the other figures in the figure box. A few will not hurt but the entire collection will. I think it cute when Dora plays w other little figures that DD has in there. They also ride the ponies she has too. My father named the ponies different names- like Tony Pony. But thats about it- let her make her own stories to go along w the people.

We have our play area set up w a kitchen (wooden that dh made last year), two low shelves (again dh made) w toys and dolls. When ever kids come over, they head immediatly to the basmt where this is set up. There is plenty of small animals figures, play food, trains, legos, play dough and babies to keep my dd busy for hours. The only thing- my dh says there is enough toys down there for 10 kids. He's right- we had a playdate w 9 kids and there was enough to go around. :LOL

But still we have gotten a small share of the light up and push a button toys that within days end up w good will etc. Sometimes on bdays she gets so much, she dosent even notice that it disapears after the party

I have heard many times from other parents- you have the most awesome toys. I say- we only have stuff that make the child play not the toy play for the child. Also since some people see what a set up we have, they shy away from buying more so we get more outfits, gift certificates, contributions to savings.
post #31 of 43
I'm dealing with this too. My mom is *really* good about this -- she doesn't always get it right, but whenever she brings over bags of stuff she tells me to go through it and pick out the appropriate stuff and she'll take the rest to goodwill. (She doesn't buy it new at least, this is all garage sale stuff.)

But we do get it from other people. With Christmas coming up I'm thinking of putting up a webpage of our "wish list" prefaced by a friendly letter about how we feel about having lots of plastic commercial stuff (crap) in our house, and won't people be kind and help us not be overwhelmed by it? :LOL I don't know how people will feel about it, but I don't know why they should be offended if I'm upfront about it in a non-personal way.
post #32 of 43
The woman is at the mall so much, we joke she has her own parking spot there.
lol I think I saw her kind at the Gap today - this woman couldn't leave the sale rack - oh just have to find a shirt to match this pants, oh one more outfit so cute so cheap...driving her daughter and screaming bucket baby nuts...

I agree to go shopping or give a store or two for them to shop from. You know we really like these stores (I always include sears and toysrus as they will take anything back And I give detailed but long lists of things, sizes of clothing - one size up or more, types of toys etc. With enough to choose from and even some that could be found at the dreaded this toy is going to kill my child dollar store (they often have crayons, workbooks, etc instead of the plastic death toys...or guns - gee thanks)

I also preemptive strike and say oh ds broke that toy...and I couldn't fix it maybe you should get some more sturdy toys like wood as boys do break things and it was so sad..

But I got to get that waldrof toy thing down..
sigh yes some happy meal toys over here.
not for long gives me a new filter for the junk in there!
post #33 of 43
We are waldorfers, so I DO know your pain! We have just learned to let some things slide, and I think with as much "mommy competition" esp. in the dogmatic Waldorf world, you will find that all those families have a skeletons in their closets (skeletons in this case being a plastic/battery/character toy or two).

Take it with a grain of salt. Who cares about 1 Elmo toy if your child doesn't even know *who* elmo is? It's just a funny red monster! When the crap toys (yes, I teach my children to call them that!) start getting overwhelming, we take around the donation bag and start collecting in DS's room. Not a big deal, since it's been drilled into them since they were born that we don't like crappy toys. This means plastic/battery (which we actually never have b/c it drives me & DH nuts!)/ character/ or basically any toy that is ugly.

I don't tell inlaws that I don't want them to buy certain things, because that IS rude. They know what we buy, and we have gone shopping together MANY times, where MIL will say "Oh, this is so cute, you should buy it for DS", and I will say back "No thanks, I don't like plastic/etc. toys in our house". And i walk away. DS is 5 now, and she still buys the occasional crap toy (she buys him at least 2 dozen presents a year, so it's hard to avoid I suppose). The last one was a Buzz Lightyear that lit up and talked and everything. She tells me afterwards "I know you didn't want him to have it, but he wanted one so much, I just wanted to get him one!" : Thankfully, the dang thing broke within minutes of DS opening it. I think only a wing broke, but it is a firm rule in our house we do not play with broken toys. DS was upset, not because I tossed it, but because his Gram would buy a cheap plastic toy!! And the slightly embarrassing part was when DS told his Gram "thanks for the Buzz, but it broke right after I opened it, because it was a crappy plastic toy probably". And he wasn't saying it rudely, but innocently. I think that probably gets the point across the strongest.

Okay, this is becoming long-winded, but here's one more thing we do:
Have catalogs sent to in-laws (my mom only buys yardsale toys, so their's no point! and I don't feel bad about re-donating hers, b/c she only spent a dollar or two ). I have sent to them Magic Cabin/Hearthsong and Nova and Rosie Hippo. Then we get them, too. If a b-day/x-mas is coming up, I'll say, "Did you see that so-and-so in Nova catalog? DS would LOVE that! He would also love this widget... we were going to get him one, we were wondering if you wanted to get him one, and then we would get the other? Is there one you'd want to give him?" And they always are things the boys LOVE for a long time, and inlaws see that, so I think slowly they are getting the message!

Sorry so long-winded... I'm done now
post #34 of 43
Inspried by a Waldorf book I was reading yesterday I decided I am going to symplify my toddler's and baby's toy collection.
Sounds interesting! Would you mind sharing the book title?
post #35 of 43
Thread Starter 
Sure! I've read a few of them now but that first one was "You Are Your Child's First Teacher" by Rahima Baldwin Dancy. I really like it.
post #36 of 43
you could sign them up to get catalogs of places you do like (ie hearthsong) don't even have to say a thing, just let the catalog arrive. given how mailing lists are bought and sold all the time, it happens a lot ; )

and junky toys you hate are PERFECT to take places where they're at risk - like a trip to a park, long car ride, etc.
post #37 of 43
my dd has a college fund - used to be called an education ira, but i think now its called a coverdell

some of them contribute to that in lieu of a gift; or give a small token thing for dd to have in hand while the bulk went to teh ed fund
post #38 of 43
Thread Starter 
(I love the education fund idea! That's awesome.)

The most bizarre thing happened the other day... I talked with my MIL and FIL about our ideas for minimizing and how we've gotten rid of 90% of the boys toys and are only going to buy things that really stimulate his imagination, yadda, yadda and she was like totally into it!!!!!!!!!!!! To say I'm shocked is an understatement.

She actually seemed kind of excited about it and said that she thinks it's a great idea and that she's so glad I told her because they will be going up to the outlet stores in NH in a few weeks and in her words, "I'm so glad you told me because I would have bought a bunch of that plastic junk, now I'll look at some of the nice stores up there for some wooden stuff instead."
post #39 of 43
I'm pretty...no very mainstream....but I still prefer simple classic toys....I don't want to spend $$$ on batteries for 20 toys that all teach dd her ABC's. And she has lots of gift giving family...I request lots of craft stuff, blocks etc. But to the de-clutter part... since MIL loves toys with lots of parts about 2 X a year I "clean out" her toy box.... To "make room and see what gifts she needs" and I put all the useable junk? into a plastic tub and offer it to MIL if she wants.... and I tell her if she does not want/need it I will offer it to my mom or donate it. MIL is thrilled b/c I thought of her first...and she gets the toys I hate picking up over and over....and all the happy meal toys!
post #40 of 43
Another option is to let them know ahead of time that you only have enough space for a certain amount of toys. So when they buy one toy, another toy they have already purchased will have to be given to charity. This is what we do and we've been getting gift cards to clothing stores instead of junk toys lately :LOL
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