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Many kids today have too many toys. Just my personal opinion from having worked in many homes with children. And the parents agree. That’s why they call me in.

The main culprit is often the grandparents (and other family members/friends). Understandably, the grandparents want to shower their grandchildren with toys. But excessive toys can cause problems on the receiving end:

  • Kids become ungrateful.

  • Kids don’t exercise their imaginations as much.

  • Kids don’t learn moderation and contentment.

  • Parents and kids experience stress and anxiety when toys are all over the place.

  • Parents and kids don’t sleep well with all of the toy distraction.

But how to moderate the gift-giving?

  • Explain to your extended family members that going forward, you want your children to have more experiences than toys and that you want to reclaim your home for relaxation, entertaining, etc.

  • Effective with the next Christmas or a child’s birthday, suggest giving experiences v. actual toys.

  • Tennis lessons, art lessons, dance lessons, cooking lessons…

  • Tickets to a zoo, museum, science center, play, concert, sports event…

  • Books, educational games.

  • Limit toys to one per child and to toys that challenge the imagination.

  • If the grandparents are local,

  • Set a rule that any large toy, train set, etc. must live at the grandparents since your home cannot absorb such large items. Kids can enjoy them while visiting the grandparents.

  • Request the grandparents spend their time (and not their money) with your children doing sleepovers, trips to a park, playing games with them.

How to prepare you and your children for this new life style

  • Explain to your children that you want to declutter their toys and donate them to other children who are a lot less fortunate.

  • Tell them that you want to organize and ask what toys are they willing to let go.

  • Set up a tall box (like a laundry container) in their room and tell them that moving forward, they are to drop in toys (and clothing) that they think some other child would like. When the box is full, take the contents to your favorite thrift store. Bring the child along so s/he can see where donations go to live.

  • Start teaching them when they are very young to keep their toys, arts and crafts, etc. organized. Being organized is a valuable life skill to have.

  • Tell them that they can have 3-4 friends over for a birthday party. Specify “no gifts necessary” on the invite. Any more children than that is overwhelming – and brings more toys into the house!

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