Grandparents, good intentions and too much stuff! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 7 Old 12-15-2011, 06:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I need some (very gentle please) perspective here.  This got kind of long - guess I needed to vent a bit too..

 

Ds1 (5) has been telling me for months that he wants a red tractor with a  wagon and a canopy exactly like the one they use for wagon rides at his farm school.  we talked about hoSanta might not be able to find an exact replica (because this is the kid that will notice every tiny detail that is different) and he's told me the elves can make anything.  So I've found a red tractor that is similar and bought a wagon that I was hoping to transform into something - it has no sides or canopy but I was hoping my husband and dad could help me with that.

 

My dad got very excited about this project while I was at their house last week and kind of took it over and wanted to keep the wagon to work on -  which is fine with me as I still wasn't sure what I was going to do and he is very handy and I knew he could figure out something wonderful and it would be so special.  I talked with my mom today and she told me they ordered 2 more wagons and tractors and are making the same thing for ds2 and my nephew for Christmas.  My dad felt like if he was making something so special for ds1 that he should do the same thing for all the grandkids.

 

I understand this, I really do. I know I should just say thank you and appreciate the effort.  But I am so upset by this!  This is supposed to be ds1's special Santa present and now everyone will have one.  They are only getting one big present from Santa this year and now I have to either figure out an additional present for ds2 or something completely different for ds1. (And find a place to store another 2 more large tractors.  we already have 4 similar tractors with attachments from them!)  I picked ds2's present specifically based on the fact that he needed something with wheels that he could roll around like his brother's tractor so there would be no fighting about it.  Plus, my nephew will be opening his tractor from them on Christmas Day at our house so ds1 will see that too. 

 

This is a constant problem.  I've been trying so hard to declutter but it's impossible because my parents keep bringing toys into my house!  They are wonderful, loving, doting grandparents, but everytime they come, they have more presents for the kids (and 2 of everything since we have 2 boys and they don't want them to fight over everything).  we see them pretty often so it happens a lot AND I can't really get rid of anything because they are looking for it after.  They live in a house jam packed full of stuff - for them if one is good, more is better!  For my mother's blessing, my mom gave me 15 things for my necklace I would have much preferred just 1 or 2 that were truly special instead of just a random butterfly because it looked pretty...

 

I know I sound ungrateful and I feel guilty now.  I'm 8 months pregnant and overwhelmed with hormones and I'm getting sick and it's been a rough few weeks.  I'm lucky to have these types of problems.  I just thought I had Christmas figured out and now I need to figure something else out.

 

Gah.

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#2 of 7 Old 12-15-2011, 07:15 AM
 
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They sound like lovely grandparents.  You are lucky - there are horror stories of grandparents on MDC (shudder).  I would let the Christmas thing ride.  There is a good probability your Ds will be fine with other kids getting this cool gift.  DS1's gift is not diminished because others also get nice gifts - and if it is, I would gently suggest it is something to work on.  

 

I do hear you on the clutter and the constant gift giving, though!  I would talk to your parents after Xmas and let them know that:

 

a)  you are not comfortable with the kids getting so much stuff all year round, and would prefer gifts only on xmas, birthdays or rare, spontaneous occasions.  You want the boys to learn to like people for who they are - and not the stuff they give them.  You are trying to prevent a case of the gimmes.

 

b)  You are actively trying to declutter and all the stuff is not helping.  You just cannot deal with it.

 

If the grandparents really do see stuff they like, they could keep it for their home.  My mother (until recently - but my kids are getting older) had a box of toys at her house for when they played there.  

 

 

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#3 of 7 Old 12-15-2011, 10:25 AM
 
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I think decluttering is an on-going process. It sounds like you guys will have to let some things go, and then be honest with your parents about it when it comes up. Explaining that the house was full but that as the kids get new things, some of the old stuff has to go isn't what any grandparent wants to hear, and for some of them, it does hurt a little. But it's your house, and they really will get over it.

 

I ended up making rules for my parents, which kinda ticked them off at the time, but they got over. Our specifics were different because they got TONS of stuff for my first child, and next to nothing for my youngest. You might think through what really makes sense for your family. My mom decided that based on my rules, giving my kids a savings bond as part of their "gift package" for each holiday/birthday made sense, and now that my kids are teens they are so thankful to have that money from grandma waiting for them to be ready for college.

 

But the year that I limited to mother to one toy per child and was honest about the fact that we couldn't keep everything forever, she was hurt. She lived through it.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#4 of 7 Old 12-15-2011, 01:19 PM
 
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My mom volunteers at a thrift store. I get a bag every week of stuff she brings home. She has always done this. I made it clear years ago that I will gladly accept her gifts but they may not always fit into our lives. Some things I am thankful for and use, others go straight into a donate ( at another store!) bag. It sounds like a gentle conversation is needed, about how you are grateful but you can not keep everything they give you.

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#5 of 7 Old 12-16-2011, 07:31 PM
 
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Would it be possible to steer them towards "non-stuff" gifts? In other words things that don't cause clutter but are long lasting gifts, like music, dance, athletics, visual arts classes or memberships to museums or play places? If they feel like they want to give a thing that can be unwrapped (which is totally understandable) maybe a small thing that represents the activity that is being paid for like a drum for music classes or whatever.

 

 

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#6 of 7 Old 12-16-2011, 09:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I talked with my mom about the Christmas stuff and I think we have worked something out.  They are making the special wagon for ds1 and will make a horse trailer out of the wagon for ds2 since he is into horses and will have a blast loading them in.  Of course, that means I will have to return the smaller one I already got him which I thought was the perfect size for him and different from anything else we have and easy for him to work with...but I'm moving on...

 

After talking with my mom about the tractor yesterday, I called her this afternoon.  She was in Toys R Us and didn't want to tell me what she was doing (she knew I would have something to say about it!).  I finally asked her enough that she told me - she was looking for little people to put in the back of the wagon so ds1 could pretend to take them on a hayride.  Yes, very sweet and a great idea - if we didn't already have many many playmobil/lego/various other people floating around that could serve the same purpose. 

 

They are very aware of how I feel about all the stuff.  we have talked ad nauseum about it.  They just keep doing it.  They do this in their home too - I don't think they can help themselves, it's like a compulsion or an addiction.  I know boundaries is something I need to work on but it's so difficult with them.  My mom is really the main culprit and she is super sensitive and takes everything so personally (she is also currently having chronic health problems which makes her even more sensitive).  She is so dramatic and acts highly offended by the slightest thing.  I don't think she is doing it to put on an act. I honestly think she is genuinely hurt and has no idea of how she's coming across. And my dad puts so much thought into things and is soooo excited when he has something to give.  It's like I'm crushing his dreams if I say anything.

 

I'm sure they would give us 'non-stuff" gifts if we ask but it would be in addition to the rest - they just can't stop buying things.

 

I really don't think I am going to be able to stop the incoming stuff so I guess I'm going to have to get better at deciding what to keep and what to donate and not just keep something because it came from the grandparents. And not feel so guilty about everything.  I find that so difficult because a) it's infuriating that they are not listening to what I say (and this is a long standing problem, not just with the kid stuff) and b) the kids really love most of the stuff she brings.  But I do feel they take it for granted because there is always more coming in and we just don't have room for everything. I mean, I guess technically we could make room - but do we really need soooo much stuff?!  I can see that ds1 is getting really used to constantly having new things to play with and not playing with what we already have...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

.

If the grandparents really do see stuff they like, they could keep it for their home.  My mother (until recently - but my kids are getting older) had a box of toys at her house for when they played there.  

 

 


This made me laugh because we've already been down that road. My parents' house looks like a toy store exploded in it.  In addition to their own ever growing collection, they have lots of hand me downs that people have given them.  They really are great overall - a bit overwhelming as parents but fantastic grandparents! ;-)

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#7 of 7 Old 12-17-2011, 08:07 PM
 
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Yes it sounds like you need to become more callous about donating and returning things. I didn't mention it in my previous post but we have some experience with what you are going thru and I finally just decided to stop worrying about what the Grandparents were giving... I don't try to control it, and I now return or donate any unwanted or inappropriate gifts with no problem. Really it's no big deal to return or donate stuff and it saves holiday angst. If you return it, you are still getting use out of the gift--it's like the original item was a gift certificate--and if you donate it, it will find it's way into the hands of someone who will be glad to have it. Just say thanks for the gift and then do with it what makes to most sense for your family.

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