We were cleaning up the basement playroom and I casually mentioned donating some toys. Yeah, they totally flipped. It's not that I'm trying to get rid of toys that they play with. They haven't played with some of the toys in over a year. I guess it's just human nature. I have trouble letting go of some things too. ;) Anyway, I think I've found the solution. I have set you a "missing" box in the back of my closet. Everytime I clean their rooms or the playroom I find something that wouldn't be missed and is just taking up space so I just toss it in the missing bin. If it is missed I'll secretly drag it back out. If not, at the end of the month, it makes it's way to Goodwill. I haven't had a complaint yet. In fact, nothing has been missed yet. ;) And now I have gotten rid of enough stuffed animals that my son can actually fit on his bed. Now if I could just get people to stop giving them things...
I haven't hit that stage yet, my son is only 9 months. I've heard other people say that they feel asking their kids to give up toys now and then to "other children who don't have any toys" helps build a charitable mindset.
I can see using both methods when the time comes for me. :)
Silkyhorse -- if you have a 9mo, you're in a great place for getting rid of unwanteds. When my kids were little, I'd just give away gifts that I didn't want to deal with. Brand new, in the package. Back to the store if I could, otherwise, to the thrift or consignment store.
As a result, as recently as 5 years old I'd take away gifts that I didn't want her to have, with no problems from the kids. (I also would let them hold or play with toys in stores, with the understanding that they were "visiting", with the toys. Usually they'd get bored with the toy before I'm done in the store, and the rest of the time they'd leave the toy at the cash register anyway.)
We definitely give away toys regularly that they know about. I agree, it's important to encourage generosity and charity, but it's hard to teach a two year old that particular lesson. Also, the scale of downsizing that I am doing would really be too much for any child to handle. I'm working to get rid of about 50% if not more of all the stuff we have. I'm happy to say , it hasn't bothered them a bit. Why in the world do we have all this stuff if they don't even notice when it's gone?
Oh, and you have to be careful about the whole people-who-don't-have talk. When I explained to my kids that there are people in this world that don't have homes, they wept....for a long time. It took me awhile to calm them down and then they had nightmares for a month. They have to be old enough to deal with something like that.
We generally talk about "people who don't have as much as we do." Children who don't have as many dolls, people who don't have as many shirts, who have to wear the same shirt more often, people who don't have as many choices of food to eat -- that don't have a choice, and have to eat what there is (and not macaroni and cheese or bean burritos -- the favorites in our house).
I agree you have to be careful. You have great kids, to be so empathetic, but I'm sure it is hard for you, Mom, to try to protect them and still share about the world.
I have so far tried to keep from them the full impact of the environmental disaster that is plastic. But when we're out somewhere, they find plastic bits to throw away and announce they they just saved a sea bird. It's hard.
I never thought of putting it that way, not having as many dolls or as many shirts. That definitely softens the blow. I'll have to try that next time! Being the naive mom that I am, I just always try to be as honest as possible. So when they asked me why the homeless man was sleeping on the bench, I just automatically said that he didn't have a bed to sleep on. Whew! I won't make that mistake again!
I think I'm going to give them a bit more time for the environmental implications of plastic (my children are 5, 4 and 2). My husband and I were watching a TV program about Antarctica and global warming and the kids saw the beginning of it and totally flipped (part of the problem is that they are really dramatic). But we are working on not being so wasteful all over the house (water, power, food...). Hopefully it will eventually sink it. :)
I wanted to cry tears of joy several times on reading the words of all the good people who have commented here, you are all working so hard to make a change in your lives and i thank you for struggling with me. i thank you also Miss Bea and family for giving us a wonderfully inspiring example to follow.
My children's toys got so overwhelming instead of picking them up and putting them away over and over again i have been stuffing them into cardboard boxes when i find them on the floor. I have now probably put 85% of all of our toys and nearly %98 of all of our plastic toys in the basement. The kids seem to enjoy their space less cluttered. I have kept out many of the handmade toys and a few very special favorite commercial toys they received as gifts and that they seemed to always comeback to despite the multitude of other toys they (used to) have. When will we be able to donate or sell all of the other toys? when i can finally convince my subconscious that we never did need them and we never will need them!
Sending children to school (wasteful and excessive) and buying into the toy market (where all toys are advertised as being good for your brain toys) teaches them to be consumers. I have always wanted my kids to have things so they can... what learn? play? enjoy life? they love to play outside for hours and they learn so much more! I was raised as an American lower middle class consumer and i have to reteach myself, too! so we start simple. ~from New Mexico
We found something that works great for our girls, ages 8 and 11. I bring up a storage tub and tell them that if they fill it up with things from their room to give to Goodwill, they get $10 or $20 (or whatever I can afford to give them at the time). It is BIG money to them, and we get a tax deduction at the end of the year. It really has helped us thin out rooms to do this a couple times a year. It also takes away the part about mom "making" them give things away because it is their choice.
We have had a big sucess with giving used gifts. My kids are 6 and 4 years old. Every time my kids are invited to a birthday they choose some of their own toys or books, to give away as a present. They alway choose something that looks good, of course they want to give their friends something nice (I just have to keep the from giving away their most favourite toys, I don't want them to regret it afterwards). The gift is always better than a "cheap gift straight out of the store" would be, because we are giving away toys that are of good quality and if the toys survived my kids playing with them I am sure they are still going to hold out for another kid too.
And we are so proud of this and tell the other parents about how our kids really put time and effort into choosing toys that they thougt their friend would really like. When I proudly talk about that my kids are giving away their own toys other people are starting to dare to do it too. Because it's not about beeing cheap, it's about the environment and our kids learning about the joy of giving. Every home is flooding over with toys - we don't need to buy more toys, quality toys kan circle beetween kids and more kids get to enjoy them, without owning every toy available all the time and the house full with stuff.
They can newer give to much, because they always get a refill on their own birthdays and christmas.
The last birthdayparties I have held I wrote on the invitation "we would really like to get used toys or a nice drawing as a birthday present". And now my kids are starting to get used things from their friends too. And they really like that: "my friend had that toy but he gave it to me so I could play with it too". And we are getting quality toys instead of cheap plastic toys that fall apart the first day. win-win.
Our kids really like giving gifts now, because the gifts are from them personally. Not something mom/dad bought. And before, when we were giving store bought presents, our kids didn't even want to give them - they wanted to keep the new toys for them self.