My kids are very non-materialistic but they are the only grandchildren and get soooo muchhhhh damnnnnn stufffffff! This is way early to be thinking about but how do you stop all the incoming clutter, ie: Christmas/birthdays/holidays? I have been decluttering and getting rid of A LOT of toys and clothes. We may or may not have any more kids but at most one more and I just dont want to be storing gobs and gobs of little girl clothes "just in case" our maybe one last baby is a girl, and my kids have so many toys that they can't even enjoy them and they just end up in a huge giant pile. Ugh!
Anyway, how do you stop the incoming "junk". I am thinking as extreme as politely saying no toys for Christmas or birthdays. We don't do Santa or Easter bunny etc.and have just small parties for bdays but somehow santa and the easter bunny and extra bday presents always show up at grandma's house....I know grandmas spoil grandkids and I am ok with it, I really am, but its excessive and grandma is only a mile away so of course the kids are there multiple times a week. I hate to have grandma keeping buying them stuff only to have me go on a decluttering rampage through my house and throw/give/donate 3/4 of what she gives?
Any and all advice appreciated.....
Two things: if they're at grandma's house a lot, then some things she gives can be delegated as "grandma's house toys". And then she can store them or get rid of them (and that's hers to do). The other thing is to specifically request experiential things. Memberships to children's museums or zoos, a joint trip to some local venue, one-on-one time with the kids (a chance to be with just grandma for lunch or baking cookies or something) Those can be wonderfully fun, a little expensive (and you could ask for money toward them, if the whole membership seems like too much to ask...several relatives together could get the membership), and don't promote clutter in the house.
It's been helpful for us to steer heavily-gifting grandparents toward things like coloring books, stickers, kid jewelry/hair stuff, favorite candies and food treats, books. ESPECIALLY when they get this habit of giving the kids something every time they see each other (and they're nearby, or we're seeing them several months in a row).
I don't feel as bothered as passing on a pile of unused coloring books/books/'tiny goodies' (or keeping a pile of unused coloring books, etc.) as other kinds of toys. None of our gp's go in for memberships, etc. as often or 'just' spending time together but that's a good route as well (ice cream gift cards would be another great idea the kids would probably love too) -- so it's just one of those constant battles for us. Shifting toward this smaller and kinda-useful stuff has been a help. When they start pushing my boundaries with bigger/too much stuff we set out a lot of heavy reminders and sort out other grandma gifts to pass on.
Well, we'll say stuff like 'Grandma, you know you're getting A LOT OF STUFF EVERYTIME WE SEE YOU' or 'WHOA, WHAT'S WITH ALL THE STUFF TODAY?'. And follow it up later with 'Seriously, please cut back on the gifts every visit/ The kids are just excited to see you too, even when you don't have things for them/ It's just too much stuff to take care of lately, and the kids have a hard time cleaning up SO MANY TOYS/ PLEASE remember to ask when you're picking up large items for the kids, we don't always have room for new stuff. (feel free to replace 'large items' with stuffed animals or anything else)'.
Sometimes the kids get clearly overwhelmed with the stuff and we point that out, knowing they're likely to be sympathetic to the kids' feelings (this is a little less of an issue with my mom, who gives me the stuff to give out over time so it doesn't happen as much (this could be a good alternative too, have her give stuff to you to dole out on otherwise boring days?) - though my mom is prone to giving a lot of stuff all at once too. MIL feels like the kids don't get her stuff that way and always just gives it to them without me present on purpose it seems, plus there's more of an issue there esp. with items we've specifically asked her not to be giving the kids or whatever - meh. . . whole other issue with that).
Could you maybe phrase it to her like you would for a toddler who is needing distraction as a "special helper?" How about, "Grandma, I wonder if you could help me out with something. I know that you love little Suzy and Johnny and love that you are so generous with them but recently it's come to my attention that maybe we are all spoiling them. I'd love to show little Suzy and little Johnny that love doesn't always mean presents. I'm trying to restrict gift-giving to special occasions like Christmas and birthdays. I would much rather all of us spend our time and money on activities with them instead of a tangible gift."
Wanted to add that:
We did once make a request for 'Please, stick to 1-2 gifts only. Too many things are overwhelming the kids'. After either a holiday or birthday that was out of control. I should probably try to rein that in now,again, but ever since that everyone has been relatively reasonable and sticks to more useful/wanted stuff (it probably increased to 3-4 but they're not all big, some are just dinky extras that aren't annoying).
I was planning on getting our son a balance bike for his upcing 3rd birthday and they showed up at the birth of our daughter with a tricycle for him without asking me.
I asked them last Christmas to limit themselves to two presents each. So they each PACKED two boxes full of tons of toys and my son was totally overwhelmed. I was pregnant and super, super sick so my house was just full of crap I couldn't do anything about, despite my heavy hints. As if this isn't bad enough, they are also far too loose with the sugary snacks and candies and then get irritated when our son "is wild."
I don't understand why my DH won't say anything to them. He is a very straightforward no-nonsense kind of guy and it's not like he doesn't know his patents are overstepping, but somehow talking to them about this is like kryptonite to him.
Ugh- maybe I need to just start a thread in a "therapy needed" section.
By the way, even though my in-laws can irritate me no end, I do like them and think they're nice people...who just don't really understand the way I parent.
for you, craftymcgluestick. That is absolutely how I felt for a few long years before things seemed to simmer down a bit. Gah. I had my feeling hurt several times because people were getting things for my dd that were special for *me* to do for her, and overstepping my experiences, or were 'being better' than the time-spent homemade things that were important for me to give and make for her.
Seriously, though. I think there were a string of incidents were I just hurt people's feelings. Word got back (through the kids usually) that we'd gotten rid of some xyz thing that grandma had bought as a gift, or fragile gift items got broken, or I let the kids *do whatever (dump in water, paint, etc)* to their toythings that were gifts. Once or twice I just stepped in, took item away (for example there was a wooden sword toy that was, truly adorable and well made - but two 3 y/olds were being encouraged to hit at each other with, and dh had actually talked with grandma about how it wasn't exactly a toy we wanted around for our kid already when gma previously mentioned this 'great item'. Probably would've been fine with it, had nobody been encouraged to hit people with it, but that was all gram ).
In our case, dh doesn't get along with his mom and care about her feelings as much, so he'd just rather chuck the stuff or fight with the kids about how they shouldn't have gotten it trying to get rid of it later than deal with his mom. Honestly, I have an easier time - my mom completely forgets most things she gives us, and wouldn't really care if the kids had fun covering something in mud, paint, paper mache and then we eventually got rid of it. And I kinda get it from dh's point of view - because he'll try to talk with her, and then she'll go on to do whatever she wants anyway. It might be the case for your dh too? In our case it takes me getting angry/upset/intense about something and stepping and and being all 'NO WAY, NOT FOR MY KIDS' 'But I figured it would be okay because. . .' 'NO WAY, NOT FOR MY KIDS. WE'RE DONE WITH THIS! THANKS ANYWAY! TAKE IT BACK NOW.' (which she gets nervous about) and then she'll remember the message. I cut off and ignore debates about stuff, my standards are not up for debate at the moment around my kids, yk? I've also taken candy right out of my kids mouth, when not asked first about it (I depend on instilling in my kids that they have to ask ME about stuff, since we can't always depend on grandparents to be reasonable. You might need to work on the same, but it's great to have the kids come over to ask me whether they can eat the candy gma just gave them).
Sometimes there's nothing you can do and it's just going to be a pain and you have to just relax into the fact that someone in the family will be grumpy. Other times, giving lists of "the kids would love to get x" can help make it easier and make it more likely that you get things into your house that you would like your kids to have (or don't mind them having)
Mumikimum, overstepping our experiences resonates exactly! I was working on DS's Halloween costume, which he had decided on and we were making together and then, without asking, here comes a fancy, store-bought dragon suit. I could have bought that, too, and at the time, I was a WOHM, so doing so would have been a lot easier. But I wanted to spend time with DS creating it and who cares if it was perfect?
This summer we all went on vacation at this awesome resort that has nightly s'mores roasting. On the way from the pool to dinner, my MIL just grabbed some chocolate from the s'mores table and basically stuffed it in my son's mouth!!! I didn't see, but it came to light when I saw chocolate all over his mouth at dinner and my mom explained what happened and I had to tell my sweet DS why we weren't going to roast s'mores that night because I didn't want him amped up on two chocolate bars just before bed. Ugh! I am just going to have to stop being less polite and "oh well, just this once" about it because we're now seeing my in-laws more and more (they've both recently retired and their house is too hoarded- truly- to have us over) and I am not going to let my sweet kids get caught in the crossfire, nor think this constant stuff/sugar binging is par for the course for our family. Ugh, I hate confrontation.
I totally understand when ILs get things that were special for us to get them. I had bought one of those battery operated electric jeep things DD because a scooter toy of hers got ruined and it was on clearance. I spent probably 3 hours putting it together and then it took 10 hours to charge. She rode it once before grandma says she got DD one just like it....
So now a 2.5 year old has not one, but 2 electric jeeps.
Also, we don't celebrate Halloween or do Easter baskets for Easter but MIL gets her multiple Halloween costumes a huge sugary crap filled Easter basket and huge Christmas stocking every year! Candy is mostly thrown out along with any knick knack plastic crap that breaks instantly and Halloween costumes are saged for playing dress up. The first year we were married I never threw out the extra candy we got (before we had kids) and we would over indulge on it and it would still last a full year until the next Christmas/Easter/Halloween.
I wish I had some advice for you. But nothing I have done has worked. We have asked for only 1-2 toys for Christmas, and year after year each child gets a dozen per grandparent. We have asked for 1 gift for birthdays, and instead each grandparent gives a gift bag with several presents. We have asked for gift memberships or kid magazine subscriptions instead of toys, giving our tiny house as the reason, and instead receive subscriptions, memberships AND toys. We have said that we do not want any clothes, as we the dressers are overflowing, and still regularly are given clothes because "If the other grandma can give it, why can't I"? Infuriating!
I feel disrespected as a parent. I feel like my families boundaries are meaningless to our parents. I feel like our values of non-materialism and emphasis on personal connection and creativity are openly flouted. I do not want my children expecting this level of 'stuff' in their lives, and I do not want them to equate love with 'stuff'.
I would really love for a grandparent to ask what kind of play shoes the kids need for school, or what classes we could use help paying for. It really feels like a burden to constantly be given so many dresses and dumb toys and candy and even boring books. And it feels like a power play when we have asked for years for it to stop.
Yes, I am bitter about this whole topic.
My parents send a large box of stuff in the mail every 2 months. They are getting to the point now that they send usable things, bath stuff, ingredients to make cookies, books, second hand clothing, a few dollar store toys, candy and art supplies. They are well aware that my husband will through everything in the garbage as soon as possible and buy nothing of much worth any more.
But they have beat me to some bigger ticket items (play kitchen and table) which they opt for cheaper, plastic, character (Dora) instead of solider wood. *sigh*
I too find it disrespectful when family go against our wishes (They don't often.)
I've heard that gift giving is some people's expression of love but if you had the discussion time and time again, I think wishes should be respected.
I've been very open about how much stuff has gone to charity over the past years too so I think family know stuff that is not needed will be 'binned' (Basically sent to charity/recycled etc
IDK, ds last year didn't get any toys for his bday only clothey and money, but this year got lots of legos and clothes which is fine because actually plays with them. DD on the other hand her toy collection is massive. I hate it too because when they get so much through other people and hand me downs etc, it kind of leaves little room for me to spoil her or ds with a gift. Xdh is buying dd way more than usual but most the stuff stays at his place at least. She now has a full size battery corvette and a battery operated motorcycle. When ds was that age xdh didn't want to buy him much because of 'waste of money' and clutter and we were fiancially hard up but now dd gets everything. Ds gets more now too. But it sometimes saddens me that I feel my gifts are trumped by others.
How fitting I literally am storing some of dd's toys in waste bins and trash bags in my living room, she just has way too much! It overwhelms and IDK what to do.
|Decluttering , Simplifying|