How to address toy clutter issues with extended family? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 08-06-2005, 09:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My situation is really common I know, so just refresh my memory from some threads I've read before on this subject. I have relatives who shall remain nameless since they aren't here to defend themselves :LOL whose idea of demonstrating love is to purchase tons and tons of plastic toys for my children. Also useless frilly dresses. And all this is done with great urgency, the children NEED these things . And more is suggested to me, and my natural resistance is treated as a lack of love and attention to my children.

Clearly I am speaking of close relatives or this would be something I could let go in one ear and out the other. But the girls' birthday is coming up and then my birthday and then Christmas and the house is already full of toys they don't play with (our closets are full of them, the play areas have minimal toys). I can feel the onslaught already. These dear relatives live far away and feel the lack of regular time spent with the girls and want to do all they can. I understand the motivation but am not sure how to redirect 60+ year olds (I'm pretty good with 22-month-olds :LOL ).

Changing folks' personalities is not an option at this point, after almost 40 years of life I have finally realized this . So I'd just like some suggestions of how you folks handle these types of situations. Thanks!
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#2 of 12 Old 08-06-2005, 10:00 PM
 
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If the hints I give don't work (<trip> Sorry about thatm there are so many toys here, I'm tripping over them, and "I really need a bigger space (DC) has so much stuff") then I start giving them away. DD is 2.5, so she has been able to understand about sending her old diapers off to other babies to use, but for her to pick toys out to give away, that is too much. So I try to go through her toys every ~1-2 mo. and bag up those that are not played with. She really doesn't notice! If you can't stop the presents, you might want to keep the ones DC like, but otherwise you can donate them to a women's shelter for the kids or a goodwill, sell them on the TP or freecycle them.

Sometimes it would harder (and harder on the givees) to understand that their presents will not be used.

GL
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#3 of 12 Old 08-06-2005, 10:19 PM
 
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We have limited space, so in her wishlist we write that we have a small place and whereas we appriciate their thiougfulness please don't be offended it you see it at grandmas, as that's become the playroom for large and extra toys.
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#4 of 12 Old 08-07-2005, 05:33 PM
 
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what we've done is ask that instead of toys, books are a great alternative! (or musical instruments) and for clothes we ask for durable (occasional nice clothes are great, but with 3 boys... :LOL)
so far everyone has been very supportive (and my family LOVES to buy gifts!)
we also recently decluttered the kids toys they had to personally go through their toys (we decided they were old enough) and donate about 85% of what they had. it was very interesting to see which toys they decided to keep
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#5 of 12 Old 08-07-2005, 07:16 PM
 
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An additional suggestion for people who miss/want to be close to/thought of by your DC would be to ask them to read the book onto a tape. If $$ is not an object, they could purchase and send the book too; if $$ is a consideration they could just read from a library book and only send the tape.

Your DC would then be hearing their voices, becoming "close" to them. And this can be done over and over with different stories as your DC grow.You could also have the tape put on CD so that this would be a family treasure for the next generation.

However I have suggested this to both my parents and my ILs and no one has taked me up on this yet. Hope it works better for someone else!

--LL
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#6 of 12 Old 08-07-2005, 09:27 PM
 
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I just did this today. I participate in freecycle so alot went there. My mil is good about buying wooden puzzles but she doesn't know how to pick a good book to save her soul I also am not thrilled about her clothing choices but honestly I ebay them or take them to a second hand store or freecycle those as well. I have given up changing them and she does try to buy stuff to make up for not seeing the girls and how do I explain that they just need her not stuff? I know until they live closer she will keep up these behaviors but they plan to move this way in a few years.

Dhjammin.gif, Me knit.gif, DD 10 REPlaySkateboard04HL.gif, DD 7 cat.gif, DD 4 joy.gif

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#7 of 12 Old 08-07-2005, 09:42 PM
 
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A couple of things I've tried...

- membership to X. We belong to the local childrens' museum & my mother renewed our membership for Christmas. She & my IL's are all on the membership so they can go with dd anytime. We celebrate by going there with my mother. My IL's are getting us a membership to the Bronx Zoo for dd's birthday. We'll probably go about 6x/year, but I think it's worth it.

-be specific! My mother got dd a basketball hoop with an adjustable height for her birthday. I'm not big on plastic toys, but dd always plays with this at other's houses & it will get a lot of use. I had to tell her exactly what to get though.

-have a theme. I read about this on MDC. Tell everyone you're having an art theme & each person should buy one thing for the art box - a pack of paper, markers, etc. or you're setting up a dress up box & each person should bring something for pretend play (I think I'll do this for dd's birthday next year).

-plan a special day that involves being together & not things. We incorporated this with membership gifts, but as dd gets older, maybe a day out with grandma or grandma & poppy, doing something they both enjoy, probably without me.

Good luck - I know it's hard especially when they mean well.
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#8 of 12 Old 08-07-2005, 10:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bu's mama
A couple of things I've tried...

- membership to X. We belong to the local childrens' museum & my mother renewed our membership for Christmas. She & my IL's are all on the membership so they can go with dd anytime. We celebrate by going there with my mother. My IL's are getting us a membership to the Bronx Zoo for dd's birthday. We'll probably go about 6x/year, but I think it's worth it.

-be specific! My mother got dd a basketball hoop with an adjustable height for her birthday. I'm not big on plastic toys, but dd always plays with this at other's houses & it will get a lot of use. I had to tell her exactly what to get though.

-have a theme. I read about this on MDC. Tell everyone you're having an art theme & each person should buy one thing for the art box - a pack of paper, markers, etc. or you're setting up a dress up box & each person should bring something for pretend play (I think I'll do this for dd's birthday next year).

-plan a special day that involves being together & not things. We incorporated this with membership gifts, but as dd gets older, maybe a day out with grandma or grandma & poppy, doing something they both enjoy, probably without me.

Good luck - I know it's hard especially when they mean well.

GREAT ideas!

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#9 of 12 Old 08-08-2005, 03:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for these fantastic ideas, mamas! I am glad I communicated clearly that these relatives love us all and are loved by us all and that this is about keeping the relationship and somehow dealing with all the *stuff.*

I think I will go with a specific list this year, and will plan to somehow recycle toys beginning sometime in the new year. I'm still not sure what toys might hold an interest for the girls as they get older, and which ones they have outgrown, so I'm going to wait a bit on that.

Also, I expect that with the relatives I've mentioned, they will follow the list to the letter and also do the impulse buying. Did I mention they are 60+ and I worry about retirement funds? :LOL I think I will ask them how they prefer that I handle toys/clothes that have been outgrown (I will put it that way instead of "we didn't want them"). They may prefer to take them back and recycle them themselves with other little children in their lives, or more likely they will say to do whatever we want. But since they put lots of time and money into the purchases I hate to just cart the items off without mentioning something.

Thanks again for these thoughts mamas. Now I'm off to grow a spine before September...
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#10 of 12 Old 08-09-2005, 10:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmyY
Thank you so much for these fantastic ideas, mamas! I am glad I communicated clearly that these relatives love us all and are loved by us all and that this is about keeping the relationship and somehow dealing with all the *stuff.*

I think I will go with a specific list this year, and will plan to somehow recycle toys beginning sometime in the new year. I'm still not sure what toys might hold an interest for the girls as they get older, and which ones they have outgrown, so I'm going to wait a bit on that.

Also, I expect that with the relatives I've mentioned, they will follow the list to the letter and also do the impulse buying. Did I mention they are 60+ and I worry about retirement funds? :LOL I think I will ask them how they prefer that I handle toys/clothes that have been outgrown (I will put it that way instead of "we didn't want them"). They may prefer to take them back and recycle them themselves with other little children in their lives, or more likely they will say to do whatever we want. But since they put lots of time and money into the purchases I hate to just cart the items off without mentioning something.

Thanks again for these thoughts mamas. Now I'm off to grow a spine before September...
I was struck by your post & wanted to suggest discussing with people how it's more important for you to show love and affection than just buying stuff. Stress that you know they are not buying your love but time & experience with loved ones mean so much more (& you can throw in a lesson on conspicuous (sp?) consumption if you think they're up to it ).

I know this is hard (last summer when we visited my mother, she wanted to take dd to the dollar store & let her shop for a ton of stuff. I know she means well, but I said, 'why do we need to shop? There are so many other things to do together.' not I hate all that crap that falls apart in a day & is made in China, and I don't want dd to buy stuff just to buy stuff, etc.) but if they know where you're coming from & the values you want to instill in your children, they might 'get it' a little better.
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#11 of 12 Old 08-09-2005, 11:48 PM
 
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bu's mom has some great ideas. Maybe you could suggest a magazine subscription and explain the child will have a monthly reminder of her far-away grandparents. My mom sends me a certain amount for each kid on each holiday; I buy them something to wrap up but put most of the money in their college accounts. You sound very willing to be up front with your relatives, which is great. I think this would backfire with my MIL. I would probably just keep the latest gift (so she can see it if she visits) and try to eBay the rest and put the money in my kids' college account.
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#12 of 12 Old 08-10-2005, 05:54 PM
 
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I usually declutter the toys before Hanukkah/birthdays to make room for the onslought of new toys.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18, and Jack, 12
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