The toys are really getting to me - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 01-10-2011, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
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The toys are overwhelming me. I thought that this Christmas would be ok, but it's becoming clear that we have moved past Orange Alert and are now fully in Red Alert in terms of toy management. Danger Will Robinson! Overload!!!!!


I am even considering taking pictures and posting them for your enjoyment. Toys are everywhere, and I can't contain them anymore. Seriously, even if I spend a serious chunk of time organizing them and putting them away, there is still overflow.


I curse my mother for sending 3 (or 4? I lost count) boxes of gifts for DD for Christmas. That was just my mother; that doesn't count the stuff from the in-laws (they are reasonable, but having a reasonable number of gifts from MIL, SIL1 and SIL2 on top of my mother is just OVERLOAD!!!!!!!!).


I kind of got cranky at DD yesterday about all the toys EVERYWHERE when I realized it wasn't her fault. When people give us mountains of toys, we either have to absorb them or she has to make difficult choices and let some go. And I can't exactly blame a 5 year old for not wanting to give away 50% of her toys. She willingly made a pile of toys she didn't want yesterday, but the volume is nothing to the space we need to make. It's maybe a shoebox worth of stuff that she parted with.


Now, thanks mostly to my mother o_o I have to either force her to make hard choices, or do it myself without her permission. Seriously, this is not a case of me being such a major minimalist that I am cruelly throwing away any toy that offends my aesthetic sensibilities; this is a huge amount of stuff that has exceeded our maximum storage capbilities (and it's not lack of storage either - I have boxes, I have one of those 9 fabric box cubby thingies from Target, I permit 2 closets to be toy storage, I have a 2 drawer beside-the-bed dresser that is strictly toy storage, a train table with space underneath... ETC ETC ETC).


Help! What do I do? Take photos of the disaster and send to my mother and curse her? Buy 2 huge storage bins and have DD fill them and put them in the basement for occasional rotation? Do a major purge one day when DD is gone? (Not thrilled about that idea - she WILL notice and she won't be happy).


I know a lot of kids have lots of toys they never play with, but DD does rotate through her toys. She's the type of kid who likes "new" things the best, and that includes any toy she hasn't played with for a while, it will spark her interest again. Sure, there are some key staples but she really does play with 99% of her toys from time to time. Even the most junky little plastic thingie can grab her interest for a while from time to time.


I might have talked myself into the huge storage bins, because it seems like a fair way to declutter (without being sneaky and just getting rid of stuff, which will understandably upset DD). And I think that maybe I actually WILL take photos before I do that. Then I can talk to my mother in a month or so about what sending all these toys really does to us, how it really does create upset and effort and stress. I no longer worry one whit about my offending my mother - I will be perfectly fine taking a gift and getting rid of it - it's just about DD now, and I don't want to be the mean mother who gets rid of her toys. That could create problems of its own. But I have to manage this some way in the future, I can't just keep buying more storage bins every few months.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#2 of 7 Old 01-10-2011, 11:39 AM
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Do you have any storage space?


We used to have those square boxes on wheels which can be put onto another.


If you make two or three higher towers, you can fill each with different toys which might be played together.

Just allow one or two to be opened and make your child put everything back in before you hand her another box.


Another idea which has helped us is putting up a box for the child to put in anything which he did not like anymore.

I had to swallow hard at some choices (old stuffed animals my grandma made for me etc.) but put them away.


Ask your little one whether she wants poorer kids have something to play with as well- maybe then it will makes decisions easier.


Always throw plastic stuff away when it starts to break. It is no use to keep it. If it is a real favourite, then maybe keep it a bit longer or take a photo but if it is just to be played with every once in a while- get rid of it.

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#3 of 7 Old 01-10-2011, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, we have tons of storage space. Storage cubes, shelves, drawers, train table and under-table storage, 2 closets (not 100% filled with toys of course, but still, storage space in there too). Even so, the overflow is getting onto dresser tops, the floor, etc. The problem is not lack of storage space but too many toys.


DD has chosen toys to give away, but they might fill a shoebox - a spit in the ocean. I don't feel the issue really belongs to DD at this point. It is not her fault she has so many toys and it's an awfully large burden to put on her to force her to part with many toys she likes just because my mother insists on sending her mountains more.


Perhaps the answer is simply to intercept any further toys from my mother? They are shipped in boxes, and I suppose we could just donate everything unopened in the future.


I just don't think it's healthy to solve this by placing huge amounts of pressure on DD - oh, the poor children, you should share, etc. If I spend dedicated effort forcing her to part with her things, that sounds like a recipe for future hoarding to me. It seems like the unhealthy thing is not DD, it's the introduction of overwhelming amounts of things.


By the way, DH and I buy her virtually no toys. Not because we are misers but because we'd be doing ourselves in by buying anything. So my mother has robbed us of the pleasure of buying our daughter a few toys every now and then as well.


But yes, when I ask DD to choose toys to give away, I do phrase it like giving to other kids who would like toys too, rather than going into the trash.


I throw away broken things, but I don't have a mountain of broken toys, I have too many toys.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#4 of 7 Old 01-10-2011, 01:11 PM
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I get what you're saying about it not being DD's burden, but rather than thinking of it negatively, think of this as an opportunity to teach her lessons about decluttering. Maybe rather than asking which toys she wants to give away, have a pile of toys (preferably similar toys, like all her dolls in one pile) and ask her which ones she wants to keep? (And everything she keeps from that pile would have to fit into X container)... Then box up everything else... Another tactic might be to give her a LARGE box and ask her to fill it up with toys that she's willing to give to other kids... make it almost a game, as in, I bet you can't FILL this WHOLE box!! I'm sure there are multiple ways to approach the decluttering process that don't involve going behind her back, but if you think doing it without her would be best, just do it. I do, admittedly, toss some of DS's toys when he's not looking, and so far there's only been 1 that he's asked for again (and he accepted the explanation I gave him). If you're really worried, you could always keep some in the basement or something in case she asks for them, and then toss them on a predetermined date in the future if she hasn't asked for them. 


I know you are saying that she plays with ALL her toys but does she NEED to play with all of them? I have found DS plays much better with fewer toys -- not a meager amount by any stretch of the imagination, just fewer... instead of playing with 20 toys for a minute or two each, he'll play with 1 or 2 toys for 20 minutes. Plus everything is organized so he can find what he wants easily, and he can improvise & use things for more than one purpose so he becomes more creative... I guess I'm just saying, there are benefits to fewer toys, don't look at is as depriving her... I honestly don't know how I could deal with the amount of toys you describe!! lol!


Sure, take pics for your mom & send them to her. Let her know you can't accept any more toy gifts, and give her some other creative ideas for future gift-giving occasions. Then if she continues to send toys, feel free to intercept & return/donate them before DD even opens them. I actually had to do this with some of DS's Christmas presents (for various reasons). I felt bad but it was the only option really. Although one thing to consider with your DD is that you said she likes novelty... so you could explain to her that if she wants new gifts, she needs to pick out an equal number of 'old' toys to get rid of. (Maybe phrase it differently than that lol, it sounds mean the way I wrote it!!) 


ETA: I just read your last post again & it sounds like you're worried you'll set her up for a future of hoarding if you ask her to get rid of stuff. I really don't think this is likely... I honestly think getting her used to having massive amounts of toys around would be more likely to set her up for hoarding, because she won't have had any experience with the difficult task of sorting through & simplifying possessions. KWIM? I think approaching it the wrong way COULD cause some anxiety but if you are thoughtful & creative with your approach I don't think you'll have to worry about it. 

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#5 of 7 Old 01-10-2011, 05:13 PM
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"Buy 2 huge storage bins and have DD fill them and put them in the basement for occasional rotation?"
If (1) you have room for this, and given that (2) your daughter enjoys toys that she's forgotten about, then that sounds like the plan. You could declare that those two bins are it for "toy rotation space", and no more space will ever be allocated. Or maybe one more bin than you need, to allow _you_ a modest amount of flexibility, and you could keep it a secret that there's some empty space in there?
And most importantly, I'd suggest that you lay down the law very firmly with gift-giving relatives, and refuse to allow more than a certain volume of gifts to enter the house. I think that your idea of intercepting the gifts before your daughter ever sees them is a good one. And I'd suggest being even stricter with your mother than you have to--it's not fair that she's taken away your ability to ever give your daughter a toy.
It's a reasonable learning opportunity for your daughter to identify a modest number of old toys to give away to charity every year, and thereby clear space for a modest number of new toys. But it's not fair for her to have to give away a ton of well-loved stuff, over and over, just to cater to her grandmother's desire to play Santa.
A thought: Is it possible that your daughter doesn't want to give away her toys because she's absorbed some of Grandma's dysfunctional attitude? Maybe she's afraid that Grandma would be mad? I don't know how old she is and what your parental position is on white lies, but maybe you could bring this up to her: "If there are some toys that you don't play with much, but you're afraid Grandma would be upset, I'd be happy to tell Grandma that _I_ insisted on getting rid of them."
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#6 of 7 Old 01-10-2011, 05:39 PM
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What we have found helps is to ask everyone for the same "theme" gift. When DS was obsessed with trains, everyone gave him train parts, so in the end, he had a really nice train set. When he was totally into dinosaurs, everyone gave him various pieces of a dinosaur kit. Now, he loves legos, so everyone gave him legos, and he's happy.


The multiple gifts become one toy.

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#7 of 7 Old 01-11-2011, 12:11 AM
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since she seems to be game with rotating, i would start with that.


like crayfish said, i would start by containing the space available for toys. a certain amount of space in her room, and if you allow it, a space outside of her room for toys. so, perhaps the 9-cubby thing and the two side tables or what have you. 


then, she makes choices. in this space, she can put the absolute favorites and then some that will go "on rotation." then she has two bins (or whatever you decide) to hold her "rotating toys." 


then, she decides what can go. 


next, the process goes into action. those bins go into storage, and before her birthday (or other gift-related holiday), you go through the rotational toys and her favorite toys. she goes through the process and *creates space* for new toys in the storage that she has. she should open up some space in her room-storage, and also in her rotational storage. 


finally, contain your family. tell them the exact number of items they can purchase from a list based on your space constraints. tell them that it would be better for your family if the $$$ was spent on the child's education or something similar. this is what we have done, because, had i not, my house would be saturated with clothes and toys. *saturated*. my mother impulse shops and her love language is objects. my MIL is practically a hoarder and would send me every toy DH and SIL ever had and every toy that any person who happens to give her hand-me-down toys has. I would need at least 3 houses to have space for all of that crap. and he's one kid! 


so, i told them what we want for DS that we cannot afford: playgroup, music lessons, trips to various places around town that might cost money and are of interest to him (such as the airplane museum which only costs $6, but still. to have a little fund so we can go to the museum is nice). we can do without toy number 10,354 plus shipping. we can do without music lessons, but would prefer not to. we can pay 1/2 of music lessons plus instrument. if they pay the other half, we have nothing to store AND everyone is happy. for serious.


and i rule with an iron fist. if they give me or send me something that i do not want, i give it away, right away. in some cases, i send it back so my sister can have it, but seriously. i just have too. it's too much otherwise, and we live in a tiny space. 


i hear you. the hardest part is containing others. i'm just mean about it.

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