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Old 09-10-2006, 05:19 AM   #1
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TOO MUCH STUFF! Advice needed . . .

My kiddos are the first grandkids on both sides of my family, and we have TOO MUCH STUFF! I was brought up on basically a poverty-level income, but we were very happy together in a close-knit, and almost ideal family. My husband makes a good salary, but we are still renting our home, and because it's a priority for me to be home with the kids, we try to be careful with money.

SO . . . that said, my kids are SWAMPED in name-brand, top-of-the-line toys, books, and clothes! I feel so guilty getting rid of this stuff, but our house is small (cozy, not cramped), and I am sort of a minimalist at heart. I realize that kids are going to have accompanying "stuff," but does anyone have any good advice on cutting down the STUFF?

Some suggestions I have tried / am working on:

1. Keeping toys in the basement to rotate in and out (we currently have 2 bins down there, and I don't think they need any more!).

2. Suggesting "event" birthday gifts, or non-tangible items (such as an annual museum pass, an "ice cream date" with Grampy, etc.) instead of toys.

3. I have talked to my family members, and they just nod their heads in agreement, and verbally agree with EVERYTHING I say ("What do the kids really want for their birthday? They want you to come over and build a castle out of Legos for an hour or two!). They tell me stories of how they treasure special time-commitment memories from their childhood . . . and then go buy MORE STUFF for my kids!

Help!

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Old 09-10-2006, 08:14 AM   #2
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Re: TOO MUCH STUFF! Advice needed . . .

My oldest was the first grandbaby on both sides and I totally feel for ya! The way I conquered the "as grandparents we must buy them every toy in creation" syndrome was I started telling them that we didn't have any more room at our house for the toys so any more toys they bought would have to be special toys that stay at the grand parent's house. This worked well for the grandparents that lived far away and the one's that live close to home. They didn't want tons of toys cluttering up their house either so the number of toys bought started dwindling (it also helped that our family kept growing and it was getting more and more expensive for them to be fair to everyone) Now that my kids are older, they more often get money from grandparents. Either this Christmas or next Christmas, we are trying to plan a trip to Disneyland and I told everyone if they want to get the kids something for Christmas, get them Disney gift cards to spend at Disneyland. We'll be in the middle of any international move and won't be able to take any gifts with us, they will have to be shipped (which can get expensive) or left behind.

Movie passes, museum passes, zoo/aquarium passes, gift certificates to kid friendly restaurants (thinking places like Chuck E Cheese) phone cards so they can call the grandparents (my kids love to feel all grown up calling granny and grandpa themselves (with my permission of course even to use the phone cards) plus we haven't seen any of them in almost 3 yrs since we left the states so that probably helps it feel more special) Maybe the grandparents could rent them an outdoor bouncy castle for a day. Just make sure you give them lots of options and make it clear that any toys given as presents will have to stay at Grandma's house because you don't have anymore room for a single solitary toy.

HTH

Jeni
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:27 AM   #3
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Re: TOO MUCH STUFF! Advice needed . . .

OH man, if you ever find a way to tell the grandparents to stop buying so much please let me know. We are always telling them the kids have to much please don't buy so much, give them money for their savings accts, but every year we get slammed w/ a bunch of stuff, and my kids aren't the first grandkids on either side. I am glad on one hand, because I have to say I don't think I have spent more than 100 on clothing for both girls combined (I don't maybe more, but not much) because the grandma's keep them well clothed, but the toys. And I feel bad to get rid of stuff that belongs to them. I have tried at pack stuff up for a yard sale, but don't have the heart to get rid of much. So we swim through toys. And the last year they have decided not just to get too many things but now we need some big things. LIke my mom decided we need a sand box and for Christmas she wants to get my DD a lego table. When will it ever end. DH and I buy very little for our kids just because it is all so overwhelming, we feel bad that we don't buy them more, but it isn't like they do w/o. I think in our case it has a lot to do w/ the fact that we live so far away. They are all in MO we are in CA, so I guess they want to make up for not seeing the kids as much. I have even tried to get them to buy us gift certificates to the airlines, I know Southwest now does that, and I think some of the others do as well.

Sorry I think I took over. I know how you feel.
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:43 AM   #4
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Re: TOO MUCH STUFF! Advice needed . . .

My inlaws overspend on our kids also. I think part of it might be because they don't see the kids very often, they live 2000 miles away and so they try to make up for it in gifts. With our older kids we go through the toys every Christmas season and they pick out the toys they do not play with much and donate them to children who need toys and they get donated to a Christmas charity. At least that way we know they are going to children who need them and we have room for new toys.
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:51 AM   #5
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Re: TOO MUCH STUFF! Advice needed . . .

That is frustrating. I would return or sell all the extra stuff and put the $$ toward something cool (like museum passes).
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Old 09-10-2006, 01:04 PM   #6
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Re: TOO MUCH STUFF! Advice needed . . .

OMG, do we have this problem. What is it with these people? They seem to think "more is better" and "stuff = love". Part of the problem is that my stepMIL gets a big kick out of watching the little ones open their presents, and I think it makes her feel good to think she got the most or that she got the coolest. She gets kinda bummed once they get old enough that they don't believe in SC anymore. Then I think she goes with $ or gift certificates.

My oldest DS has more crap in his closet that he never plays with. We have no less than THREE (3) train sets. Oh, no, I forgot the block one, so that makes 4. Even though we told them which particular train set we wanted pieces for, one of the GP's decided to get him a completely different set, so now we have 2 huge boxes of stuff. And only 2 sets of GP's do this (we're a blended family). My parents don't...they get either a couple of small things, or one large/expensive thing (but their idea of expensive is far less than my inlaws idea of expensive). So, it kind of makes me feel bad for my parents, even though I agree with their philosophy that more is not better. DH and I can't afford that much at Christmas time, either, so it also makes me feel bad that we can't keep up with these people. We didn't get that much crap when I was a kid, and I think I was better off for it. DS has so much stuff he doesn't know what to play with and resorts to TV, video games or the computer (when I'll let him). He seems to prefer the magnetix, for some reason.

Storing stuff in boxes he can't reach in the closets seems to work. I have no idea how to approach my inlaws and tell them not to get so much crap. They're generous people, and they also usually get lots of clothes for the kids, too, which helps us out. And I do give some of it to Good Will. I just have to explain to DS we have limited room and that we are giving stuff to kids who are less fortunate.
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Old 09-10-2006, 01:10 PM   #7
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Re: TOO MUCH STUFF! Advice needed . . .

Ha! I can't believe I'm saying this, but I almost wish I had your problem. My Mom was raised in the depression and already thinks my son has too much stuff. (He has an average amount...) So, she doesn't ever want to get him anything that is toy-like. She bought him a potty seat once, helped pay for his big-boy bed once, put some money in his college fund once. While I love those things, I sometimes wish he knew she was actually giving him a present. We have a very small family, so he isn't showered by gifts at all on the holidays...usually just what I get him.

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Old 09-10-2006, 02:05 PM   #8
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Re: TOO MUCH STUFF! Advice needed . . .

We do seem to have alot of stuff, too. Probably complicating the matter is the 2!!! of many things. We are at the point where we have started giving our "doubles" away. But it IS hard. It's mostly my mom who does the buying here. And she will NEVER listen to me I've suggested gifts that are expendable (like the colorwonder stuff - pricey, so I tend not to buy it, but something that they will use up, yk?)
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Old 09-10-2006, 02:17 PM   #9
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Re: TOO MUCH STUFF! Advice needed . . .

We have lots & I've finally lost the guilt about getting rid of things & slowly I sell or give away. Afterall, gramma isn't cleaning up the mess or here to see the spoiling effect (attitude). Anyway, if we have anything even the same (like a FP farm & a megablocks farm) I keep the nicer one & gift away or give or return the other one if I can. I know most stores don't take things back for $ w/o a receipt but you can get GCs most places. So what I've done is return some of the stuff, I get the GC say at Walmart... if $25 goes on the GC I put $25 cash into their savings then use the GC for whatever we need... groceries, fabric whatever. That way DCs are still getting the benefit of the gift.

I could talk til I'm blue in the face about the gift thing but I gave up. Now I just leave it alone, suggest when they ask for suggestions... & give out important info like current shoe sizes, etc.

Oh & now all toys stay in their bedrooms... a few are allowed downstairs during the day but they must be put in a basket & taken back to their rooms at naps or bedtime.
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Old 09-10-2006, 03:21 PM   #10
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Re: TOO MUCH STUFF! Advice needed . . .

My daughter has one set of grandparents that like to buy toys and clothes for her. These are my parents, and they even have another grandchild now from my brother, so my daughter is not the only one. However, my husband's parents only have one grandchild (my daughter)- they don't buy her hardly anything. It is not because they don't have the money- so I am not sure why. It kind of upsets me a little, just because it seems like they should take a little more of an interest in my daughter. It is not like we really NEED more stuff or toys for her, it just seems like they don't care sometimes. They don't even have many toys for her to play with over at their house. I guess I just want them to fuss over her a little more- after all, she is the only grandchild they have right now! YKWIM?

Our neighborhood has an annual garage sale, so that has been a great way for us to let go of some of our stuff that we don't need anymore.
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