Episode 074: What if I Don't Want This Gift?

Episode Transcription

Have you ever struggled with what to do with gifts that are given to you or your kids and you don’t want? It could be because it’s something you don’t like, or maybe it doesn’t fit, and you can’t return it. Whatever the reason, there are many occasions when we don’t want to bring an item into our home, especially when we are on a decluttering journey.

In this episode, Diana shares how she handles unwanted gifts while still being grateful to well-intentioned gift-givers.

We’ll also discuss:

  • Storing a portion of toys for younger kids to play with later.
  • Your kid's toys are a byproduct of being loved and cared about.
  • There isn’t a timeline for gratitude.
  • Ways to handle when a giver asks about a gift you donated.

What can you expect from this podcast and future episodes?

  • 15-20 minute episodes to help you tackle your to-do list
  • How to declutter in an effective and efficient way
  • Guest interviews
  • Deep dives on specific topics 

Find Diana Rene on social media:
Instagram: @the.decluttered.mom
Facebook: @the.decluttered.mom
Pinterest: @DianaRene

Are you ready for a peaceful and clutter-free home? Watch my FREE training video "Kiss Clutter Goodbye" to learn how it's possible! And find all of my resources here.

This transcript is auto-generated. Please excuse grammatical errors.

Diana Rene: 1

You're listening to The Decluttered Mom Podcast. A podcast built specifically for busy moms by a busy mom. I'm your host, Diana Rene, 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. 

Welcome to another episode of The Decluttered Mom Podcast. If you celebrate Christmas, then I hope you had a wonderful Christmas holiday with your family, and maybe things didn't go perfect like we talked about last week, but I hope it was magical in some way or another this year. So what I wanted to talk about today is something that I get questions quite often about, and that is basically like what to do with gifts or toys that are given to your kids or even to yourself that maybe you just don't want, or maybe it's something that doesn't fit and you can't return it, or maybe someone doesn't really know you very well and so they got you something that, like, just feels like junk to you. Or maybe someone does know you well and they still got you something that just does it is not of interest to you, is not something that you want to bring into your home, especially as you're going on this decluttering journey and trying to simplify things in your home. You're not, you definitely don't want to bring in things that you don't even want. But you also feel bad, like you feel this guilt, over letting go of something that someone spent money on and took the time to wrap it and give it to you. And I get that. I totally, 100% get that, especially as a people pleaser I am. I am a people pleaser to my core. It's something I have had to work on a lot over my entire life, but especially in my adult life I have had to figure out how to, how to just not be a people pleaser, and that can be really hard for someone who naturally is like that. 

But before we fully get into that, I want to just mention a couple of things. If you're just feeling really overwhelmed right now with the number of toys your kids have gotten, I want to make a suggestion. So if your kids are, I would say three or younger kids. I think it's totally acceptable and okay to take some of the toys that maybe haven't even been opened yet, put them in a bin and put them in storage for now. That does not mean that your kids are never going to be able to play with them. It doesn't mean that you're going to donate them all in six months. It doesn't mean anything. All it means is that you are taking a portion of their toys because they got toy overload and you don't have the space for it and they're little, they're three or younger. You're not donating it, you're not trashing it, but you are just setting it aside where they can't see it for now. Because what's likely going to happen if you just open everything? They're going to get overwhelmed, right, there's going to be too many toys. And if you've already opened everything, it's okay. It doesn't mean that all hope is lost or anything like that. This is just something that you can put in your back pocket for the future. 

And again, I would only do this for, probably, ages three and younger, but it's just a simple way to just cut the clutter right away and then throughout the year, as you start to maybe notice that they're not playing with specific toys and they're sitting in the bottom of the bin and maybe they look at it every time they open up the toy bin and they never play with it. Then we can start to think like, okay, what are some toys we can donate and let go of? And then we can slowly pull some of those other toys out and they're going to be brand new to them. They're not going to remember them Like 99% sure they're not going to even remember that they got it for Christmas. It's going to be a new, exciting toy to them and it's just an easy way to slowly bring out the different toys if they're little and then slowly work through which toys they actually enjoy and which toys maybe would be better off being donated. 

Now, if they are older than three, I think that gets a little complicated. It's going to depend on your child's personality. I have seen where like maybe four or five even sometimes kids just don't even like they get so many toys that they don't even realize it. So but I do think at that age you kind of have to have a conversation like, okay, mommy's going to put some toys in storage and then throughout the year we're going to get to pull these out and play with them at different times of the year, because look at all of these toys that we have out already. 

If it like throws them into a pit of despair and they're rolling on the floor crying saying please don't do it. Then maybe don't do it, like you have to look at the personality of your child. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to decluttering or to living in a home. That is more simple. You just if they're really upset by that at that age, then it's probably not a good plan for them or for your family and you need to re-evaluate and maybe not do that If they are older honestly, usually older than three but, like I said, sometimes you can do it in ages four or five, but if they are older, I don't think it's a good plan. But what I do think is that you need to just remind yourself right now that this is a season. They have a lot of toys right now because they probably have people in their lives that love them a lot. So as you're looking at your sea of toys in your house right now, just remind yourself of that. This is a byproduct of your kids being really loved and the next few weeks are probably going to feel a little extra chaotic in your playroom or your kids' rooms, and that's okay. If we can just accept that and know that our kids are not going to likely want to keep all of these things, then you know down the road a little bit. Then I would just give yourself, like, take a deep breath, give yourself space, remind yourself that this is a result of your kids being really loved and just let it go for now. 

And I always recommend to do a big declutter at the end of January, like mid to end of January, when it comes to kids toys and please involve your kids. I know I keep saying I'm going to do an episode on like why we need to involve our kids, but it's just important to involve our kids, especially if they are like three and up, and so that is when I recommend I think that's the best time to do like a post Christmas declutter is usually like that mid to end of January. Now I have seen it recommended in the past by other people that, like the day after Christmas is the best time to do a toy declutter and I do think that can work in some families, but I also feel like it's a little overwhelming for a lot of kids, because they just got all of these cool new toys and now they're spending the day doing something that feels like work instead of being able to just relax and enjoy their time, and so we don't do that in our family. I don't think it's a bad thing, and if you think that your kids would react well to that, then that's definitely something to consider, but for our family and for many of the families I have worked with, that's just not something that would work well, and so that's not something that I typically recommend. Now I do recommend going through toys prior to Christmas, but you know we're kind of already past that. So maybe next year I will do an episode earlier in the year to kind of go over that process. 

Okay, so when it comes to receiving gifts that maybe you or your family doesn't want but you feel bad about it, I think there's kind of two camps here, the first one being that the gift giver was well intentioned, so they really did try to give you something that they thought you would like, or maybe they don't know you very well, and so they just you know, they just tried to get you something that they hoped that you would like. There's that camp. And then there's the other camp where maybe it's a family member, an extended family member that you've talked to, that you've said you know, my kids really don't want this type of toy, or we don't really want this type of toy in our home. We would really like it if you would consider buying them something from this list, that kind of thing, and they just outright go against you in, like a way to spite you. Like I've never had that experience, but I have worked with enough women now at this point where I've seen that happen quite a few times in different family dynamics and I think that's a different story. So as far as that goes, I think if it's a conversation you've had with that person, I think that you don't owe them any explanation and you can turn around and you can donate it right away and if they ask you about it, you can calmly and nicely explain that you know you had this conversation. 

Here's an example I'm trying to think. I don't want to confuse anybody here, so an example would be that this is from someone I have worked with prior to having my online course, with someone I actually did in home decluttering with, and she I'm not going to name any names, but she was saying that her family had like a very strict, hard and fast rule that nobody could wear makeup until they were 16 years old. And there was a family member that disagreed with that rule, and so she would try to gift her daughter's makeup when they were younger, like I'm saying, like eight or nine years old. And so the mom had a discussion with that family member ahead of time and said like we do not allow them to wear makeup until this age. You don't have to agree with that, but that is our family rule. And this family member continued to gift makeup to the kids, and so it was confusing for the kids. The client felt like it was like the family member was just trying to spite them at that point, because it was like she knew better, right? So in that type of situation, I think it's totally acceptable to just turn around and donate it right away, and if they are upset about that, you can just explain in a nice, calm, friendly manner that these are our boundaries. We already explained to you that we do not allow makeup until age 16. And so we don't appreciate you gifting makeup knowing that it goes against our family rules, and we are choosing not to have that in our home. So that is kind of not nearly as common as what I'm trying to get into with this episode, but it does happen, and so I wanted to at least address it. That that's not really the situation I'm talking about for the rest of the topic. So now that we have that out of the way, for the majority of the time we are talking about well-intentioned gift givers, and it's just something you don't like. 

I am like you guys, so growing up, it was like a running joke in my house that if I held a gift like up in front of my face, I hated it and I just didn't wanna say anything. And so my mom she loved buying clothes for me and I can totally talk about this because we talk about this all the time so she has always loved buying clothes for me, like I was her first girl and it's something that she enjoyed, however, and I loved it as a kid, but then, when I became a teenager, she and I had very different style and she still continued to buy me clothes every year for Christmas, and every time that, like every time I opened a clothing item from her. It was like just instinct to like pull it up and hold it in front of my face to look at it. But like my brothers and sisters and my parents would just die laughing because they were like, oh man, oh man, she's holding it in front of her face Because that was like nine times out of 10 meant that like I hated it and I didn't know what to say and I would just like smile and say thank you, right. So it just became a running joke and I honestly think at some point people just started getting me clothes just to see me how I would react to it in my family. 

But I am a firm believer that it's important to be really grateful and thankful to the gift giver in the moment. So when they are giving you the gift, I do not think it's appropriate again, if it's someone who is a well-intentioned gift giver, I do not think it's appropriate to tell them in that moment that you don't like it, or this isn't something you would ever pick out for yourself, or like I don't think it's appropriate ever to be rude in that scenario and I just you might be saying like, well, duh, diana, but I have been in this decluttering space now for about six years, and the things that I have seen put out on the internet by other decluttering experts, as far as like, it's just, it's not kind. Ok, I'll just say that. And kindness is, I think, king in any aspect of life. I think if we can just learn to focus on being kind, we would be a lot farther along as a society than we are. 

But I think that in the moment, it's important to just be grateful Because, again, if they're well-intentioned, they really probably did try to find you something that you would like, and they may just not know you well enough or may just misunderstand what you would like, but the intention and the good hardness is there, and so we just need to be grateful and thank them and mean it. And they got you a gift, they spent money on an item that they didn't have to spend money on, and they took the time to pick it out and to buy it and to wrap it and to give it to you, and so if we can just be thankful and grateful in the moment, that is the number one Thing that we can do. But beyond that, I do not think that there is a Timeline for gratitude, and what I mean by that is I don't think that you have to keep an item for a specific amount of time to show your gratitude or to be grateful for that gift. I think if you receive a gift that you know instantly when you open it Maybe it's a book that you would never read, like you would never pick it out for yourself. Or Maybe it's a book that, like, you tried to read last year and you hated it and you know you're not going to read this book there is no point in you putting it up on your bookshelf and taking up real estate in your home when you know it's not something that you want to keep. That you know Three years down the road, when you're moving, you'll likely donate it at that point, but you just don't want to do it now because you feel bad and I just want to give you permission. You don't need my permission, but sometimes you need outside permission that you don't need to keep it. There's no time that you could keep this item that is going to show your gratitude and if the gift, a lot of times I'll get the question like but what if the gift giver asks about it, like maybe they got your kids this ginormous toy that they start playing with and they hate it because it's loud and it scares them. 

Maybe they ask about it when they come over, like, oh where, like, show me your toy. And then the kids are like, oh, they look at you and nobody knows what to say. Like that awkward moment Is what most people are concerned about and with that I think, again, kindness is king. I think we react with kindness and we just explain kindly what happened. We don't say, oh, it terrified them so I got out of here. Like you know, we don't want to like, we want to be kind and we can just explain that we really appreciated the gift. The kids were so excited about it, but the first couple times that they played with it it was really loud and it was scaring them and it was not a toy that they enjoyed playing with. And because it took up so much space, we decided to donate it to so and so charity so that another family with maybe a little bit older kids would really appreciate it. 

But again, thank you so much for the gift and we just, I just am so thankful for you that you love our kids so much that you would even think to get them like such a cool gift. So do you see the difference? We just want to make sure that we have that kind attitude towards them and we don't. We don't approach it with annoyance, we approach it with kindness, and I think most of the time that solves any of the awkwardness. But the other thing, you guys, is most of the time people don't ask. 

So the time someone's going to come over and they're going to look around, be like huh, I wonder where that toy went, and then they're going to start thinking about something else, we are probably a million times more worried about it than the person who actually gave us the gift, and so I it. Just it doesn't happen very often, and it's one of those things where we think it's going to happen and we worry about it so much that it takes up our whole Brain for a while because we're so concerned about it, we're so worried about it, and then it never happens. And so I think that you just have to If it really stresses you out and maybe it was something expensive or anything like that come up with like some type of response that you could say to them, just like I did in this episode, and that way you at least have it ready to go, or you could even preface it. So if it's something where, like you are really really, really worried about that and it's a family member that is at your home a lot, so you know they're gonna notice, then you can talk to them ahead of time and you can say, like, explain the situation and you can say you know, because this isn't a toy, that let's go. 

Okay, let's go back to this example, right? So say it was grandma who got it for the kids and she's at your house like every single week and so you know she's gonna notice and she's going to say something to you. So when you're getting ready to donate it, you could explain it to her Grandma. You know, thank you so much again for that toy. Like I just love how much you love our kids and that was so kind of you to think of like such, like a fun grand toy for them. 

However, the first couple of times that Susie and Timmy played with it, like it was so loud and that it really scared them and I think they're just too little for it and because it takes up so much space, we don't we don't have the storage or the space to just keep it for them until they get older. So we were planning on donating it to so and so charity. However, if you wanted to keep it at your home for when they get a little bit older, we're totally okay with that too. So, like which? Which would you prefer? So there's always ways that we can approach it without being annoyed or abrupt or rude. So I hope this is helpful, you guys. 

And then here's the other thing you don't always have to tell them, like for the book example, like they probably will never follow up, or maybe they'll, like, six months down the road, be like oh, did you end up reading them the book I got you? And they might be like I loved it, wasn't it great? And you could just say, oh yeah, I started to read it, but it wasn't really my, it wasn't really my thing. And it's so weird because normally I love your recommendations, but you know it's just those that. That it's just how it is with books sometimes we love them and sometimes we don't, and so there's just always ways to talk about it without causing any further issues with that person, because again, they likely came at it with love and you can come back at back to them with love. 

I hope this was helpful for you, and I know that we are right at the end of the year and the next episode is going to be our first episode of 2024. So I hope you will join us for it. I really appreciate you guys. Just being at the end of the year, I really want to express my gratitude to you as listeners, because this podcast has grown a lot this year, more than I could have imagined, and it's because of you. It's because of you listening every week, it's because of you sharing it with your friends, it's because of you posting it to your Instagram stories when you're listening to it. 

All of those things help the podcast algorithm. Gods know that this is a podcast that people enjoy and they're they're learning from it and they're getting useful tips and tools from it, so they show it to more people, and so I just really appreciate you and I really wanted to tell you that, and I'm excited for what we have in store for you for 2024. 

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.