26 October 2010

First World Problem: Melissa and Doug Edition

I am gearing up for yet another round of purging the house and it has led to a larger conundrum.  Just how do I keep more stuff from finding its way in here?  Specifically, I am stressed about the kids stuff.  I am clearing out all the baby gear we won’t use again. I have resigned myself to the fact that even if some of our sisters have kids, 10 year old swings and baby bouncers won’t really be useful, so off they go.  However, despite my plans to get rid of that stuff, more stuff, and by that I mean endless toys, seem to find their way into this house.  With Lil’Bitz’s birthday approaching and Christmas/Yule soon after, I just fear that we will be awash in toys before we know it.   While I have earmarked many toys that can be pulled out of circulation thanks to being outgrown or just uninteresting to my kids, I am not sure I can purge it all at a rate that maintains toy parity. 

So, how does one politely inform family and friends that really, no really, we would kind of prefer alternatives to toys? 

I know some people post lists for such things, and I do keep Amazon Wishlists going for personal reference (because when I see something someone would like, I put it on a list then I am all set come holidays and birthdays), but I kind of find the whole idea of public wishlists/registries tacky.  I understand the original intent of such things, but I feel like more and more often they come across as tasteless demand for things you want, but maybe don’t want to buy.   Of course I am in a quandary there since many members of the extended family specifically request that such lists be updated for exactly this reason.  Sadly, I do it because it is easier than having to not only organize my gifts for people, but everyone else’s gifts for everyone else as well.   (Come the holidays suddenly my phone/e-mail is like a freaking switchboard because everyone needs to know what everyone wants/needs….have I mentioned I am someone?)

The added burden is just what to do in lieu of gifts.  The girls have 529s and savings accounts, but asking for cash seems even worse.  Clothes are nice, but again, how extensive a wardrobe does any little kid need.  Charitable donations are wonderful, but people never seem to actually do that and since everybody just loves to get their knicks in a knot, you can bet that whatever charity you pick, someone will be bitching about it, because after all, that is the true spirit of the season.  

Oy, I know all parents deal with this and that this not a real problem, but I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all.  Perhaps I just need to suck it, be that mom, and post a little blurb on the family website articulating the things the girls could actually use or would like.  I understand that I will then have to just pick the gifts out myself since the passive aggressive torture that will result from such a statement will be staggering, but it may be worth it in the long run. 

As for the rest,  after the birthday party it might be time to start the family tradition of finding new homes for outgrown toys at the start of the season.   I feel sad that all the beloved baby toys, the classics like the rock-a-stacker and so on, will leave our house, but such is life I suppose.  For now I will just thank my lucky stars that toy maintenance is the biggest issue my girls may ever have to face, though any suggestions for this problem are much appreciated.


Anonymous said...

I keep my mouth shut and accept whatever is given to us. I too find registries very, VERY tacky, and asking for cash is even worse.

If toys are piling up, you can have birthday parties and write "No gifts, please" on the invitations. For the parents of your daughter's friends, that will probably be a big relief. They don't want to waste $10 on a junk toy anymore than you want the junk toy clogging up your house.

And I have seriously scaled back on the amount of stuff I buy for my daughter. She has two sets of grandparents that want to buy her toys, so this b-day I bought (1) $30 gift from us.

I have hauled garbage bags of junk toys out of my house, so now Elizabeth knows to keep her precious toys PUT AWAY. If I walk in a room and see a mess, all I have to say is, "I'm throwing stuff out," and she jumps up saying, "No! NO!" and actually uses the toy bins I bought for her. I don't care HOW MANY toys she has, but they WILL be taken care of. Or I will grab a garbage bag and go to town. :)

And with Elodie? I don't have near the amount of baby junk as I did the first time. She doesn't need as many "toys" because she's constantly entertained by Elizabeth. I have a set of teething rings and a couple random stuffed animals from Elizabeth's pile--and it's enough.

Alicen @ The Space Between My Ears said...

So I too HATE making a "wish" list although I am one who does it (as you already know)! The only reason I do it is to quell the 6750 phone calls/emails/questions about what to buy, what does he have, do you think he'd like...

There are some toys I don't mind getting more of like Legos (since possibilities are endless), puzzles and that sort of thing but the 200,000 trucks that he seems to get EVERY holiday gets a wee bit old. Sure he loves them but does he really need a million trucks?

I will say that from casual conversations with my family the gifts were very scaled back this year. Still more than he needs but not the mountain he tends to get. I hope Christmas will be the same. I too plan to introduce the donating of old toys tradition and have done it a bit already.

Poor Emma has next to nothing but like Jaci said she really needs very little since she plays with all of Nathans toys! She has no interest in "baby" toys because big brother has all the cool toys.

Sorry for rambling so much but we just had a birthday ourselves so it's very fresh on my mind. If you figure out anything that actually works let me know!

Sarah said...

I do the registries as well to avoid the million phone calls and last minute (what do they kids want questions) and to avoid the five million duplicate toys since everyone calls me but not each other. I also do them for the people in my family who need a picture to actually get the toy that the kids wanted adn not some junk variation they think will do. I find it hard to purge our house until after the festivities since the twins b-day and christmas are in the same month. I've already done a sweep once but if I really go through the play room they will seriously be left with very little to actually play with. It seems that family members enjoy buying toys and not books, puzzles, educational tools. It might be due to the fact that books are so expensive sometimes and they want to get "more bang for their buck".

Alexis said...

I think that is a lot of my issue. Second babies certainly deserve stuff of their own, but honestly, she is already using all of Cha Cha's stuff so we don't need more.

Love the garbage bag therapy, I think I may try that, from now on, if I find a toy scattered about for no good reason, it can disappear for a bit, maybe permanently.

Alexis said...

@Alicen @ The Space Between My Ears
this is so what I am talking about! I hate the lists and having to tell people what to get, but yeah, fifty times a day I get asked to basically dictate other people's purchases so what are you to do?

I think the answer is do the discrete wishlist, direct people to it if asked and then just plan on a toy overhaul before Pere Noel arrives.

Alexis said...

Good point, I think people want to get the kids the fun stuff assuming that parents will handle the less glamorous educational stuff. In reality, kids love books, puzzles, art supplies etc. When I finally cave and post these horrible lists I try and make them weighted in the educational direction, but apparently no one can resist a talking pink cash register. Goddess have mercy!

Ginger said...

Ugh, I get so conflicted about this. We do the "list" because so many family members want it--so I go with it even if I find it annoying.
But the flip side is the one branch of the family who WON'T use a list and so we end up with the most random, unusable crap. Since J was born, it's just gotten worse too.

What I'm going to TRY and do this year is put a request for no toys, only books for the kiddo. That will be relatively successful for almost all the family (we're big on the books around here), minus my mom, which ok, fine, she can spoil him. I'd rather have a million books than a million annoying toys, you know?

Alexis said...

Yeah..about the family not using the list. Everyone whines for one, so i make one to avoid the 40 days and nights of phone calls, yet somehow, nothing from the list ever gets purchased. I guess the list helps set a tone for the gifts, reminds people what your kid likes etc. Then again, who the hell knows, so much drama over organic-ethically-crafted-mock-cupcakes, whatever!