Dealing With Toy Overload – Part 2

Who needs toys when you can play with stuff underneath the sink??

Yesterday, I shared about how we’ve found that our children are perfectly happy with a few toys. We’ve purposefully chosen to limit toys in our home because we want to train and raise children who are content and don’t feel like they have to have all the latest and greatest of everything.

Now granted, my children are only 5, 2 and 11 months. I don’t have dozens of years of parenting under my belt and I don’t profess to have even a small percent of the answers. Keeping that in mind, here are a few things which have helped us avoid an overload of toys:

1. Stick with Quality, Versatile Toys

We love quality, versatile toys in our home: things like Legos, blocks, Melissa & Doug toys, dolls, tool sets, educational toys and arts and crafts. We try to have toys which encourage creativity rather than solely entertain.

2. If It’s Not Regularly Played With, Don’t Keep It

As I’ve said many times in the Clear Out the Clutter Challenge, there’s no point in keeping something around if no one likes it or uses it on a regular basis. Is it sitting around untouched for weeks on end? Is it broken? Does it have parts which can’t be replaced? Get rid of it!

3. Focus on Contentment vs. Consumerism

We live in a consumer-driven society where people spend much of their life working to climb some type of corporate ladder and get ahead. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to succeed in your job and do the best you can do, but we don’t have to buy into consumerism and stuffitis.

Children need love and nurturing more than things. This point cannot be reiterated enough. Money can’t buy love. All the stuff in the world will never replace a relationship with your child.

If we want our children to grow up with a generous heart and a selfless lifestyle that values what’s most important–people and relationships–the younger we can teach them these principles, the better.

Purposefully keeping toys simple at our house and focusing on spending quality time with our children is one way we are seeking to instill contentment in our children–a quality we hope impacts and benefits them for the rest of their lives.

Now, while all this might sound good and well, for many of you, the toy overload in your home is not of your own making. It’s thanks to relatives who love to buy things for your children. If that’s the case at your house, here are a few ideas:

How to Deal With Well-Meaning Relatives Who Are Overloading Your Home With Toys

::Openly Communicate — Don’t harbor frustration towards well-meaning relatives. Instead, communicate your preferences to them. Perhaps they don’t know you are short on space or really would love it if they spent less money. Maybe they feel obligated for some reason. Whatever it is, come up with a plan to talk about the issues in a calm and loving manner.

::Express Appreciation — Always remember that the relatives are likely buying things for your children because they love them. In most cases, they aren’t purposefully seeking to annoy or irritate you.

::Present An Alternative — Don’t just go to Grandma and say, “Sorry, we don’t have room for your toys. Please don’t ever buy another toy again.” Give your relatives some options. Encourage them to pay for experiences and make memories with your children. Ask for consumable gifts, books, educational toys, clothes or other things your children need. Perhaps they could donate money to your child’s college fund. Or, request outside toys or even discuss them buying toys which stay at the relative’s house for your children to play with when they come over.

::Be Willing to Compromise — Just as you would like to see change on their part, be willing to meet them halfway–or more!

It’s never going to be perfect, but by openly communicating in a loving manner and presenting some options and being willing to listen and show appreciation to them, you just might be able to come to a happy medium.

Later on this week, I’ll be sharing some ideas for toy storage and organization–especially for those who are short on space and want to keep things streamlined.

Kaitlynn checking out a real-life fire engine during a recent family outing. Memories last much longer than toys!

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Other posts in the Dealing with Toy Overload series

  1. Dealing With Toy Overload - Part 1
  2. Dealing With Toy Overload - Part 2

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Comments

  1. Louise says

    Love the picture of the little one in the fire truck.

    My son-in-law has twice asked the fire truck to come to their home when one of the grandchildren was celebrating a birthday. The children just love this & love touring the fire truck. I would never have thought of this idea – but it was a treat – for the children and the firemen.

    You can always offer the firemen some “birthday pizza” – they love it.

  2. Jerilyn says

    We asked for a zoo pass last year. It cost $58 and we’ve gone at least 2 dozen times! We bring a lunch and can even bring a guest!

  3. says

    Thank you for these posts! My husband and I have been talking about this ALOT because not only do we have a playroom with a toy box that is literally overflowing, but the kids also have toys all over their rooms! I’m sick of the chaos, but I feel “guilty” throwing away something that someone spent money on. One thing we’ve talked about is taking the money our kids get from grandparents for Christmas and using it to buy a zoo, aquarium or children’s museum pass. They will enjoy that WAY more than a toy that they’ll forget about the after Christmas! Thanks for the encouragement to get back to the simple!

  4. says

    We have found magazine/story subscriptions to be a wonderful gift from relatives. We just suggest one the kids would enjoy. The gift goes on throughout the year, and the kids enjoy getting their own mail so much!
    I’d recommend Clubhouse & Clubhouse Jr (Focus on the Family), Wee Lambs & The Christian Pathway (Rod and Staff Publishers), and Highlights magazine.

  5. says

    We like to ask for “experience” gifts such as memberships to museums and that type of thing. Fun and you don’t have to store it!

  6. says

    What about when the kids do actually play with EVERY toy? :-) My kids love to pull everything out every day and play with it all. Last time I tried to throw a few things out, Hubby said, “but she loves playing with those!” And go figure, he’s the one that complains about the toy clutter. Haha, maybe we just need better organization…is that going to be your next topic? :-)

  7. Tracey says

    I agree that kids don’t need lots of toys but after raising three sons and teaching foods and nutrition for 28 years I know that there are many things in our kitchen that we might not realize are hazards. It looks like Silas (who is beautiful by the way) is playing with soap, potatoes that are covered with dirt, germs and possibly pesticides and plastic garbage bags that could be a suffocation risk. I would suggest making a safe play cabinet filled with plastic containers and lids for stacking and sorting or pans with wooden spoons make great drums.

  8. Beth says

    Our son is almost three and so at 7 months, he celebrated his first Christmas. That was all it took to realize that with our large, generous family, we were going to have to come up with some guidance for our family, or we were going to running over the top with “stuff.”

    One suggestion that you didn’t mention that has really helped with our family is group gifts. I have 4 sibblings and my husband has three sibblings, and so as you can imagine, even if they stick to simple gifts, it really adds up to quite a pile in our home. In contrast, if they all go together and get him a shared gift, it is much more managable.

    Some other gift ideas they have come up with have been a play doh tub and a little tykes basketball hoop– things that he LOVES, and can spend time with his aunts and uncles playing with.

  9. says

    Okay, you’ve inspired me. I totally cleaned out my son’s room. HUGE pile. Bigger than I thought it would be. I think the thing that did it was point number 2. He had so much in there that wasn’t sitting around for weeks on end without being touched, months on end is more like it.
    Thanks for the kick in the pants. What a load off.

  10. Karyn says

    Thought this post was excellent! Time spent with my children is much, much more valuable than things. I needed that reminder. A dear mom I know once told me that if I want my teenagers to come to me with every burden or care they have, then lay on the floor and play with them now while they’re little so they will know I am always there.

  11. carmen says

    Living in a small apartment with grandparents many miles away, I did not want to take away the grandparents fun of bringing the children something special. I realized that our little ones spend a lot of time at church so I packed some of the washable ones and brought them to share. Fourteen years later our eighth baby is still playing with those washable, quality toys grandparents bought for the first babies and sharing them with their church friends. Funny… we still aren’t short on playthings at home.