Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Toy Dilemma

The overwhelming issue when I work with moms is too many toys in the house.  The toy manufacturers have done a fantastic job of convincing both kids and parents that they need the newest, greatest, latest, updated thing-a-ma-jig.  Despite the fact that the previous version of said thing-a-ma-jig is still perfectly fine and lying on the toy room floor.  After seeing this process over and over, I felt as if I had the upper hand on preventing toy overload when it came to my little one.  But round about 4 months old, when he started grabbing for things like cell phones and remote controls I found myself scanning for things to shake, rattle, roll and amuse him.  We started out small.  Just 4 toys in a small bag under the coffee table.  Then Christmas came.  A few more and slightly larger toys were added to the collection.  I added some baskets to a cabinet in the living room.  Next thing I knew, there were toys piled on the kitchen table, in our bedroom, in his bedroom AND the baskets and bags I had designated for toys were filled to the brim.  How did this happen??  
And here's the worst part...remember when you would hear your friends who already had kids say "I spent all this money and the kid spent more time playing with the box."  Yep.  My little guys loves nothing more than to take off his socks and suck on them.  Or to chew on the strap of his highchair.  Or play with the zipper on his hoodie.  And when you give him a toy to distract him from these actions, the toy ends up on the floor and it's back to the sock.  
So what do I take from this?  I think buying toys for my baby was more exciting for me than the toy actually was for him.  This can be said for a lot of gift giving.  The gift-giver gets great joy and excitement in choosing and giving the gift.  And the receiver feels joy that it has been given.  Until they realize 10 years down the road that they are still hanging on to an item that they neither use, nor need, nor want but since it was a gift feel like they have to keep.  I hope that I don't sound like an ungrateful hag.  It is not my intent.  But what is my intent?  To give some tips to help cut down on unnecessary, unused items we have coming into our house so we don't have to feel guilty about getting rid of them.

  1. If it is near a birthday, major holiday or family visit, don't buy anything new yourself.  Chances are, despite efforts you make to ward off an influx of new toys, new toys will make an appearance in your home following most if not all these events.  And why not?  As we said before, people love shopping for gifts.  But you have the ability to control your contribution.
  2. Try to politely guide the gift giving of relatives.  For instance, if there is a hobby or sport your child is dying to take up, ask for assistance in getting the child started in these activities instead of contributing to an overflowing toy box.
  3. Ask for family gifts on holidays such as zoo memberships, museum passes, amusement park tickets or even hotel gift cards for family vacations instead of individual gifts.

"Your child needs your presence more than they need your presents."  Jesse Jackson

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