Toy Fatigue

With Maple’s birthday in just a couple of weeks and Judah’s birthday a week before Christmas, I’m gearing up for what we called “toy fatigue” last year. Despite our best efforts, people like to buy gifts for kids. And by gifts, I mean flashy plastic hunks of junk. (Do you know that every piece of plastic ever made still exists?) You can suggest experiences and charities, wants, needs and reads lists all you want, people are going to ultimately do what they want. 

I’ve spent all of 2018 decluttering and organizing our home. And even still, sometimes, I feel like I’m drowning in toys. So here are some ways that we are trying to get ahead of it this year. And what we’ve done in the past as well.

Over the last couple of years we’ve hammered out our family gift giving traditions. What works for us is one present and a stocking per kid from Santa along with a joint gift. Last year, it was their play kitchen. And then we did a couple of presents from us.  This year, we’re going to all buy each other one gift since the kids are old enough to pick out something unique (haha) for all of us. This is just what works for us and I'd love to hear what works for you in the comments. Having an actual plan worked really well for us last year. Their gifts were cohesive; I wasn’t just randomly buying a bunch of filler type gifts like I had the year before. 

Another thing we started or stopped rather was Hanukkah gifts. We celebrate the holiday in more of a cultural way in honor of my Jewish ancestry. So we decided to make it about lighting the candles nightly, learning about Hanukkah together and having a latke dinner on one of the nights. Maple loved latkes so much last year, it was one of her first words!

We’re also all about recycling. Any by recycling, I mean buying second hand. Facebook marketplace is a game changer. It’s so easy to buy and sell. It’s  much less sketchy when you can look at someone’s profile and often even have a mutual friend or two to prove that they aren't the town serial killer. I was looking at a little dollhouse for Maple for her birthday. I decided to search the marketplace before buying it from Target. I found the same one with a bunch of furniture included for less money than just the dollhouse alone would have been brand new. This also means less waste from packaging. And to make room for the inevitable influx of toys headed our 
way, you bet I’m selling a bunch of my kids old toys on there too. I also plan to donate toys, as well. 

Another thing I’m learning to do is to be honest with relatives. I’ve come to understand that people want to buy gifts. When I say that the kids don’t need anything: we end up with even more stuff that we don’t need. At first, it felt weird saying what the kids need or want because it felt like gift grabbing. So I’m getting better at saying what they actually need or toys that they don’t have and will use: games/activities to keep them busy when it’s cold out, dress up clothes or even pajamas. People want to buy them stuff and they’re asking for guidance, so it’s okay to give them ideas!

Along those lines, don’t be afraid to speak up at parties and gatherings. Say no to relatives giving a gift and letting your kid open it right away. Not only can you lose pieces, which makes me twitch! But you can spread out the gifts. My friend has a closet that she keeps unopened toys and games in. Whenever there’s a snow day or they just need something novel, she’s opens the closet and they pick out something new to do! And when gifts are unopened, they can also be returned... 

Here's a little photo of part of our current play room set up. With less toys, it's so much easier to clean up. I have so much fun making everything look cute after the kiddos go to bed!

Share your toy fatigue prevention ideas in the comments!