I rarely meet a family without a lot of kid’s “stuff”. Most families I know (ours included) have LOTS of toys. No judgement on this—simply an observation.
As a first time mom, we bought and were gifted many items. You think you need a lot of “stuff” for your kids and it easily takes over. Add in birthdays, holidays, grandparents bringing stuff at every visit (I know we’re fortunate, but seriously, every time?!) and you end up with toy overload.
We planned to have a second child so as our first outgrew toys, we’d put them away and make room for the new ones. Now that kiddo number two is here, we are completely over-run with toys. Even though we have spaces in our home dedicated to toys and some storage, it’s still overwhelming.
In the last year, as our younger son has outgrown toys, we’ve removed them from the rotation and donated them or sometimes sold them (when they still have life left!). I love that we can give to others, pass on a great toy at a good price to someone else and recoup a little money to add back into the toy-buying that will inevitably happen (especially at the holidays).
I’ve also had phases where I’ll sneak out toys that my kids are still interested in, but that we just don’t need. Again—these go onto someone else who can use them more than we can. So far, I’ve been fairly sneaky in my efforts. I get rid of toys when my kids aren’t looking and play dumb if the older one notices.
“Hmm…I don’t know where those sticky frogs went to. They’ll probably turn up somewhere.”
Yes, I lie to my kid. Judge if you want.
This holiday season, though, I’m doing it differently. I am having conversations with my son about how fortunate we are and how much we have (which I do year-round), but I am explaining to him about the fact that there are others who don’t have nearly as much as we do. We have an opportunity to share with others and make space in our house. I’m also attempting to stay low-stress this season.
Because we’ll be getting even more at Christmas and we want to have room to play with these new toys we need to make room for them. He sort of gets this logic. This year, we’ll work together to choose which toys he wants to part with. He may not be happy about it and he may not fully understand it, but we’re going to start a tradition of out with the old before in with the new.
I plan to extend this concept to birthdays as well, and regularly make sure we’re playing with the toys that are in our house. If not, out they go. We don’t need nearly as much as we have and if we’re not careful, the toys and stuff will take over. I’m not going to let that happen.
I’m sure after the holidays we’ll still have way more toys than we need, but as a first step, I’m committing to getting through the holidays and ending up with equal to (or less than!!) the amount of toys we have now. Not more.
Author: Sara Robinson
Sara Robinson, MA is the founder of Get Mom Balanced. Growing up she always knew that a traditional 9-5 job would not work out for her: she likes variety, creativity, free-time and also wanted to fit in a family. She is a mom of two young boys, teaches mental skills to athletes, and now helps support moms finding balance with all that they juggle. When she’s not sitting behind a computer she can be found hanging out with her boys, mostly laughing, reading and having dance parties. Go visit her site at Get Mom Balanced.