It is customary for most families to do a little bit of clearing out the old stuff to make room for all the new toys, clothing and other holiday gifts headed our way. I try to do this more than once a year but the holiday season is always a great time and reminder to get this done.
Our kids have so much these days! To be honest, this topic has weighed heavy on my heart lately. Kids (with means) have SO MUCH! Parents of my generation are so concerned with giving gifts to their kids that they no longer “earn” that new Game Boy or LOL Surprise Doll. We just buy it for them when we find a great deal or we are browsing through Target and they ask for it over and over.
Okay, not all parents of my generation are like this but more and more I am seeing this happen and I, myself, am guilty of this of parenting behavior. I love my daughters and want them to have it all and want for nothing.
I think my answer to this question has changed over time, and now I want my kids to have it all BUT to appreciate what they have and work for what they want. It was after my daughters 4thbirthday that I made the choice of no more toys for the foreseeable future (yup, no more toys). She was playing with friends and the playroom was a mess! New toys and old were all over the floor, and some of the new ones in pieces just one day into having them. When I asked her to clean up we encountered an “issue.” She told me that I could just toss her brand-new Chelsea Barbie house! We had just gotten this for her the day before as a birthday present and she couldn’t care less. It wasn’t her fault she had never really wanted anything. It was in that moment I made myself a promise to change her attitude toward things like toys and other privileges that being an middle to upper-income class family allows her to enjoy.
Learning new behaviors must start somewhere, so we decided to start with toys and other “things” she thinks she “needs” and wants so badly. Going cold turkey is never easy but here are some tips on how to manage the toy clutter and start to shift their appreciation for all the wonderful “things” they have in this life.
- Provide your kids with more experiences: Try gifting your children more than just toys! Santa will be bringing a family trip this year and a few small toys for in-flight entertainment. We even convinced our oldest daughter to ask Santa for this and now she has no toys on her Christmas list this year! Read more here: Gift Ideas For Your Kids that are NOT Toys.
- Clean out the playroom: Make sure while you are doing the holiday purge you are discussing with them why we should appreciate and respect everything we have.
- Donate their toys and clothes: Once we no longer appreciate things we should find someone to give them to who will love and appreciate them. This is a great lesson for kids and an easy way to teach them selflessness and giving back.
- Toss Don’t Donate: If there are things broken, toss them and talk to your children about treating toys and belongings with respect. Don’t donate them because if your kids don’t want to play with them why would another kid? Only donate gently used or easily repaired toys and clothes, or better yet take your children shopping to buy new toys for other children in need. Let them take a name off the many “giving” trees around this time of year and help them pick out something for a child they don’t know.
- Clean out with them: Discuss why we are doing this and how there are others in need. Most importantly be present in the process. Make it fun and remind them how special they are for being responsible and helping others with their kindness and generosity. Preschool-aged children have a hard time with these concepts but with affirmation and repetition this will catch on quicker than you might expect. Making sure we are always talking about respecting what we have is super important.
- Set Boundaries and start saving: No more toys … okay, not everyone has to go this extreme, but make sure they know that things cost money and that you can’t just have anything and everything when you ask for it. If there is a toy that is a big-ticket item talk to them about saving up money for it. My daughter wanted a Cinderella car that was $398! Yikes! We talked about saving up her money so she could buy it herself and she soon stopped talking about it and moved on. This happened all on her own, she could have saved up for it. She easily will have $400 after her birthday and Christmas.
- Make them earn rewards: This can be done a few ways. One way is with chores and allowance. Another great way could be through a reward system for their efforts on school work.
Overall, being a parent is not easy and there is no wrong or right way to do things. ALL children learn by example so don’t forget to exercise gratefulness in your own life.