Episode 017: Dealing with Toys as Gifts

Episode Transcription

Today Diana answers a question that she gets pretty often. How do I get people to stop buying so many gifts? It’s a tricky question and situation to navigate. People like showing love to others through gift gifting, and they get excited to see your kids happy opening the gift. No one wants to offend someone or create other issues. But you also don’t want more stress than needed when you’re on your journey to simplify.

In this episode, Diana shares how to address gift givers and the amount, or types, of gifts your loved ones give to your children.

We’ll also discuss:

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Episode 017: Dealing with Toys as Gifts

[00:00:00] Diana Rene

On today's episode, I wanna talk to you about something that I get asked about a lot. I will not say all the time, but I get asked this question a lot, and I have gotten asked this question a lot for the last for almost five years that I've had this business. And so, um, the question is…

You're listening to The Decluttered Mom Podcast. A podcast built specifically for busy moms by a busy mom. I'm your host, Diana Renee, and in 2017, I had my second daughter, and it felt like I was literally drowning in my home. Okay, not literally. But I felt like I couldn't breathe with all of the stuff surrounding me. Over the next ten months, I got rid of approximately 70% of our household belongings, and I have never looked back. I kind of feel like I hacked the mom system, and I'm here to share all the tips, tricks, and encouragement. Let's listen to today's show.

How do I get people to stop buying so many toys for my kids? And this, you guys is like a, I mean, we could talk about this for three hours. We can go down a rabbit hole. We can go down. There's all sorts of things that we can uncover with this question about what's going on. But the main thing I really wanna talk about today is just that. How to work with people who do give your kids gifts often.

So like, typically, family members, grandma, grandpa, aunts, and uncles, anyone who will like give your kids gifts every Christmas or birthday, et cetera. This doesn't really apply to like birthday parties for like classmate friends and things like that because you're not gonna typically have like a personal relationship with the gift giver.

And it's not someone who is probably going to give your kids gifts all the time. So this is more so for people who are frequent gift-givers to your kids. The best thing you can do is, number one, talk to them, and number two, give them ideas. I cannot even tell you how many times I have worked through this with people.

And the idea of even talking to the gift giver feels really overwhelming. And I get that because this is kind of like a, it's just like a weird thing to feel like you have to approach someone about. And so oftentimes we will send a text message, or we will send out like an email blast to all family members I've seen where, um, someone will like email all family and be like, please don't give our kids toys.

But like, that's it, and that doesn't really help. It usually creates drama. It causes fights. It causes tension at family gatherings. Like it's just not the best solution. And I think if you're going to have that conversation with a family member, you need to do it in person, ideally, but at least over the phone where they can hear your tone of voice, and they can hear that you're coming to them with a heart of gratitude and appreciation and not a heart of resentment or aggressiveness. So what I recommend is say it is grandma that let's just, I feel like grandmas are typically the ones who are the biggest culprits of this, so let's just go with that example.

Okay. I am really lucky with my mom and my mother-in-law, um, because they have always been very open with me. They've always asked me, like what they should get my kids or what I'm good with them getting, they have, you know, they've always worked with me. And so I haven't really had the specific issues, but I have had many, many, many, many clients and students have this issue that I have helped them work through. And it has worked the way that we have kind of framed this whole process.

So what I recommend doing is having a conversation with that person either via phone or in person. And just number one, do come to it with an open heart, right? Like, don't go into the conversation with the feeling of anger or frustration. Or, uh, like, I can't like she's doing this because she's trying to spite me or, or whatever it may be. If you go into the conversation with that, it's just probably not gonna go well. Like, let's just call it like it is. It's probably not gonna be a great conversation. It's probably not going to achieve the results that you're looking for.

And it's probably just going to create other issues. And they're still going to give your kids tons and tons of toys. Right. So here's the thing most times. A grandma is wanting to give your kids toys. Because she loves them and because she wants to see them happy every now and then, like the very rare occasion, they may do it out of spite, or they may be doing it with ulterior motives.

And, like, that's like another thing for another day that I think is more of like a relationship issue. But if you believe that the person loves your kids and just wants to see them happy, then approach the conversation with an open heart, with a grateful heart, because they are trying to make your kids happy.

They love your kids. They want to see your kids excited and, um, joyful. And so we want to remember that we know that have very similar things in mind as you do when you give your kids gifts, right? You want them to open it and be excited. You want them to play with whatever they get all the time. Um, you want them to hug you and say they love you.

And that they're, they're so excited, and they're so happy. Like that's the same thing that the gift giver is looking for, and so we have to remember that we have to go back to, like literally, the basics of why the person is even giving our kids gifts. And I think when we can remember that before going into the conversation, it allows us to go into the conversation with a little bit of a softness versus just the idea of them giving your kids all this junk. Right? So have the conversation with them that you love them. You appreciate them. You are so grateful that they love your kids so much that they want to gift them items and that they want to see them happy. And you know, that, and that you know, that their intentions are good, but you can then explain that you are on a journey to simplify. You want to get rid of the excess in your home because you have found that when you do that when you declutter when you minimize, when you simplify, everybody's happier. Everybody's lives are easier. There is less fighting. There is less stress. There is less chaos. There is less overwhelm. There is less rushing.

And so you are trying to create an environment in your home where peace, and joy, and happiness, are kind of trumping everything else. And in order to do that, you are learning how to limit your kids' toys. And a lot of people will not understand that because we have all been raised to believe that like more is good, right?

More toys equals more fun. Like, like, why would you wanna take away kids' toys? Or why wouldn't you want kids to have toys? And so you know, listen to that, that earlier episode, I had all about toys and how kids play better with fewer toys. And maybe you can even like reference that episode and give it to them to listen to so that they have a better understanding of why you are asking them what you're asking them, instead of just them feeling like you're trying to control what they do for your kids or anything like that.

Here's the thing, a lot of times, we will have this type of conversation with a family member, and then we expect it to be good. Like maybe they took it good. Maybe they took it okay. I don't know. Um, and then you get frustrated because they continue to give your kids toys, and maybe they give them like a little bit less, but they're still giving them like way too many toys every Christmas and birthday and random Saturdays also.

Right. So, the thing that we're forgetting in this conversation is to offer suggestions, offer alternatives. And the best thing that I can recommend is to recommend or offer the idea of experienced gifts. Experienced gifts are something that I think are really misunderstood, especially for older generations, um, for whatever reason.

But I think a lot of it is because when you think of an experienced gift, you think of like a very extravagant thing, like a vacation or like an annual zoo pass that costs several hundred dollars or something. You know what I mean? Like something that feels big and expensive in order to be worthy of a gift.

And that just isn't the case. There are thousands of experienced gifts that you can give to someone. And they can be free all the way to very expensive, and they can be so in between there, there are so many options. And so I always recommend like giving them ideas so it can range from, like I said, free where they can do, like, my mom has done coupons for a day of baking at grandma's house, and like, I think one year she did a coupon for baking at grandma's and she included like a couple of ingredients for something that they could bake and an apron, I think, I don't know. It was several years ago. And so I don't remember fully, but it was something like that.

We've also the my girls have also been given coupons for like a sleepover at grandmas or a movie day at grandmas. Or I have given experience gifts to my kids with coupons of different like girls day out type coupons. And then I would include, like, just little things that we could do during the day, or that would add to the day. Right. So, uh, I remember one time I gave my five-year-old, like a beach day or not a beach day, a pool day with mommy.

And so I included like a new pair of sunglasses and because she needed sunglasses anyway, and literally that's all. And she was thrilled that she was so excited. I think that sometimes when we offer something small, some type of physical item with the experience gifts, especially when we're just starting to give experience gifts. If they have only received toy-type items their entire lives, and then they get like all experience gifts, with like nothing to open. I think that can be kind of hard, and it can make that transition hard, and it can be confusing to them. And which kind of translates as being ungrateful or unexcited when really it's just like, they're like, what is this like this isn't this, what is this?

This is a piece of paper. This isn't a toy, or this isn't something fun like I don't understand. So I think that we have to remember that and put ourselves in their shoes. Right. So just giving them something small. Um, to just kind of help them to see that, like, this is a gift, but the actual gift is like going to go do this really fun thing.

So that's totally a side note back to like giving ideas. So just give them ideas of free things that they can do, give them ideas in different price ranges. And so you probably know the gift givers budget more than, than I would. Right? So like, if you know that they have a smaller budget, then finding things like even just like a day pass to the movies, which is what?

I mean, maybe that's expensive now. I haven't been to the movies in like so many years, but, um, like one pass to, or like a two-person pass to the movies, which was maybe like $20, $30. I don't know. But you know what I'm saying? So find things that are, like, inexpensive. And then if they ask, you can always give them higher priced things too, like subscriptions or memberships to museums or zoos or aquariums or, um, summer camp or anything.

Like there are like you guys, the ideas are limitless. I actually have. I think two years ago, I created a freebie that you can still get. We will add it into the show notes of this episode, but you can grab it, and it is like a ton of ideas for experience gifts. So you can pull from that where you can just give them that list, whatever you wanna do.

It just makes it easier to just kind of get their, get their minds working like, oh, like, okay, it doesn't have to be this huge extravagant thing. It can be if I want it to be, but it doesn't have to be. I can do something cool like this. And so having those ideas for them will be really helpful too.

Now let's fast forward and say it's Christmas time, and grandma has come over, and she has given them some toys, and that's okay because it's okay for kids to have toys. Right. But then she does also give them an experience gift. Make a big deal out of it. Make a big deal out of it to your kids. Um, make a big deal out of it to her. Make sure that she understands how appreciative you are of her being open to doing an experience gift like you had talked about. And how you are just so excited for it and, and so on and so on and so on, just encourage and be excited and then make sure that your kids like really understand what, what it means to. And, as adults, we have to go back to the idea that this is, this might be new for your kids. And so if they act ungrateful or they act confused or disappointed, it's okay. Talk them through it, try to help them understand. But just know that they may not get it until they actually get to go do the thing. And then, in the future, they will be more understanding of receiving experience gifts.

And you can always address that with the gift giver, also. Just explain that they've never really experienced an experience, experience, an experience gift, um, before. And so they're a little confused, but you know that they're gonna have like the best time and whatever, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Right. Okay.

So let's say that the experience gift was a day pass to the aquarium for your family. So like you and your kids and your partner. And, finally, get a day that you get to go and you take the kids. Something really great that you can do while you're there is take pictures, take a video of your kids saying, "Thank you, grandma. We're having so much fun." Um, send it to grandma, call grandma, text grandma, tell her that they are having the best time and that you just so appreciate her gift for this aquarium. And it created all these memories. Include her in that process because then she is going to see that joy and that happiness that she is seeking out and giving the gift in the first place.

Right. Because remember, if we go back, they love your kids. They want to see your kids happy. And so when they see your kids happy with an experience that they provided for them, they are much, much more likely to continue to want to give your kids experience gifts in the future and not just jump back into like buying out toys R us every Christmas.

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One other side note is that something that has really helped, um, with my mother-in-law and with my mom, they will often offer for some of the toys that they do buy to stay at their house. And this is just kind of something that we've always done, but I don't see why you couldn't introduce this if you haven't already, or it's not something that you've always done. But basically, if they want to buy them, like a lot of toys because they get the Amazon catalog and the girls like circle, basically everything in the catalog.

And so they, they buy experience gifts for them, but they still wanna be able to buy them toys. They will often, like, at Christmas, have the girls open everything, and then, they are good with me saying like, okay, pick two, two, or three things that are going to live here at grandma's house, and you can play with them every time you're there.

So this is kind of like two-sided, as far as benefits go, number one, you're not bringing all of that stuff into your house. Number two, um, they have stuff at grandma's house that's like up to date as far as like the age and interest and everything that they can play with when they are visiting grandma's house.

So I think the biggest takeaway, honestly, from today, you guys is that a lot of times, the gift giver is really well-intentioned. They, but they may not even know that it's a problem that they are giving your kids so many toys that end up getting donated like two months later, or they may be aware of it, but they just are gift-givers, and they really love and appreciate.

Enjoy your kids, and they wanna see them happy. And so there are so many things that you can do. You can go through this process with family members, but just remember that, even if you go through this whole thing and you go into the conversation with an open and loving and soft heart, and they shut it down, and they're like, mm, Nope, I'm buying what I wanna buy for my grandkids or whoever, then this is the thing, the gift you can appreciate and you can show gratitude for, but once it's in your home, you decide what, what happens with it. And if they choose to completely disregard your request for, um, what is coming into your home, at least if it's like on a grand scale like that. You have to remember that you can be grateful for the gift.

You can say thank you and be grateful, but there's no timeframe that you have to keep an item or a gift or anything like that. That makes you more grateful. Right. So like, you can be grateful to someone for giving you a gift and keep it for like 20 minutes and just be thankful that they gave you that, that they thought of you, that they, um, love you enough, that when they thought of you, they bought this thing for you and you can let go of it, and you're, you can still be grateful.

Keeping something for like 25 years in your basement, in a storage box, doesn't make you more grateful for that gift. So just keep that in mind if you do get a lot of things anyway. You can make the decision for the items that come into your home. I hope this was helpful. DM me on Instagram and let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for hanging out and listening to The Decluttered Mom Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world if you could write a review or share this episode with a friend or your Instagram stories, and if you're on Instagram, be sure to follow me at the dot decluttered dot mom and send me a DM to say hi.

I'd love to hear what you thought about today's episode. I hope you'll come back next week and hang out with us again.