Like most people, after the new year, I decided to clean and organize our house. This year, I would like to minimalize so I suppose you can call it somewhat of a new year’s resolution. Another reason for cleaning and organizing was to make room for all of the new things my kids received over the holidays. However, as I organized all of my kids’ belongings, I realized that they have way too much stuff. I don’t like that they have so many things, especially things that they do not need. I want my kids to realize that life is not about the things you have, but more about who you are as a person.
So, what did I find in this quest to organize my house?
I found lots of kids’ meal toys and small trinkets, many of which we have no idea where they came from. My daughter apparently has an insane number of Barbies and an abundance of school supplies since playing school is one of her favorite things to do. I also found a ridiculous number of stuffed animals. I found books, puzzle pieces, game pieces, quarter machine toys, claw machine toys, bouncy balls, hair bows, watches, bracelets, random empty containers, and redemption toys from Chuck E. Cheese and Main Event. I even found toys and games that my kids have never played with in sealed boxes! It frustrates me because I know a lot of money has been wasted on all of these things. It sounds almost like my kids are hoarders of some sort.
But really, how and why did this happen?
Honestly, my kids have never really played with that many toys. Don’t get me wrong; the reason they have so much stuff is probably because they asked and, of course, received. I will admit that I have bought my kids things while out running errands just to avoid a breakdown. Nobody enjoys shopping breakdowns. I know it’s not the best solution, but for me, it’s better than dealing with an outburst in public. Also, toys and things with bright colors at the checkout lines are appealing to kids. It doesn’t really help that places like Walmart, Target, and Amazon send toy catalogs in the mail before the holidays. Those toy commercials that constantly run on kids’ tv channels certainly don’t help either. Neither do the YouTube ads and YouTube kids’ videos showing off different products. I have stopped throwing birthday parties for my kids simply because I do not want more stuff in our house that is going to go to waste. I want my kids to have memorable experiences on their birthdays rather than a big party with lots of gifts.
How do you make your kids not want toys, even if they don’t use or play with them much in the first place?
As I went through my kids’ things, I asked them if they were willing to part with certain items and you know what happened? My son remembered where almost every one of his toys or games came from, who got it for him, and when. Dead serious, he said, “Oh, I got that on my third birthday from my friend” or, “My cousin won that for me from the claw machine at the movie theater two summers ago.” Like, seriously? I don’t even remember yesterday. I have to admit that it was pretty impressive. It was almost as if he had a sentimental attachment to every item he owned. My daughter doesn’t remember where a lot of her things came from, but when she finds something that she hasn’t played with or seen in a while, it all of the sudden becomes her most prized possession. She will say something like, “I can use that to play school” or “I can use that when I play with my dolls.” However, we had to have a serious discussion with our kids about parting with some of their things because all of their stuff seemed to be overtaking out house. We ultimately decided to throw some of the small items away, donate the items that were in used condition, and sell the newer items that they never really used or played with.
My concern is that the “toy situation” in our house got out of control at some point and I do not want my kids to keep expecting to receive all the time. I certainly do not want the situation to get out of control again. And, yes, we do tell our kids “no” a lot. Sometimes I seriously wonder where some of their stuff comes from because it does not always come from us. It’s like it magically appears out of nowhere. So, an idea that we came up with is that when they receive a new toy, game, or item, they have to pick an old item to get rid of. I just want my kids to understand that what really matters in life at their age is not having a bunch of things, but being a nice person, behaving and doing well in school, and putting family first. We want our kids to be thankful for everything they have rather than continuing to stockpile “stuff” that they do not need.