One of the most common things I hear in all parenting communities (especially in minimalist families) is that there are just too many toys coming from grandma and grandpa. Even though these grandparents are well-meaning, the amount of toy clutter can be overwhelming for moms and dads. Trying to keep the house clean is one thing, but it also seems the more toys your kids have the less they actually play with them! Maybe you have already tried to communicate this with grandparents, or maybe you’re at the end of your pitiful rope and are desperately seeking answers. Either way, I hope some of this helps!
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Cash first toys second
One of the smartest strategies for combatting the clutter that comes with grandparent gifts is to offer them a compromise. Cash first. Toys second. Here’s what I mean.
Chances are grandparents are desperately buying toys for their grandkids because they truly want to enhance their lives. They love seeing their faces light up and spending money on these tiny humans brings them so much joy.
If that’s the case (which it usually is), start by sharing the UNest app with them.
This is an app that allows grandparents to contribute to an investment fund for your children. The money invested can go toward their future college fund completely tax free!
Opening an account for your child takes only 5 minutes and you can easily share the link so anyone who might want to contribute is able to.
Presenting the idea to grandparents could sound like this, “Hey! I know you love buying the kid(s) toys for (insert special occasion), since they are already set on toys, I thought maybe first you’d want to contribute to their college fund that we’ve started!”
Why a college fund works better than asking for cash
- Older generations tend to think asking for cash is greedy (but are all about college funding)
- This is something they can visually see and contribute to
- There is less work than cash since donations can be made in a few clicks
Suggest a double spoiling!
Another thing to do if you know those grandparents just love spoiling is to suggest that they spoil themselves and their grand babies at the same time!
There is no denying that for the most part, grandparents love spending time with their grandkids. They just want to soak them in, spoil them up and take full advantage of not having to be a parent to them!
If you love the idea of your kids getting in some quality grandparent time as well as a little time for yourself, why not suggest that they spend a day together out and about instead of filling the house with toys.
Presenting this idea could sound like this, “You know what, I would really love it if (child’s name) could really spend some quality time with you! They already have so many toys, maybe this year instead of buying them gifts you could use that money to have a special day just the two of you? What do you think?”
Some ideas for a grandparent date:
- Ceramic painting studio
- A day at the zoo
- Baking at home with grandma and grandpa
Be honest about bigger needs
If grandparents are dying to shell out cash in honor of loving their grandchildren so much, instead of being angry or resentful, why not try to capitalize on this?
Let’s face it, when we are in the middle of raising kids, it seems like something is always tugging at our pocketbook. In some cases, we have to put our focus on paying the bills, buying the food and covering the basics which can mean the fun stuff gets tough to afford.
I’m not saying you need to pour your heart (or your financial struggles) out on grandma and grandpa, but there are definitely ways of letting them know where you might be needing a little help that still allows them to enrich their grandchild’s life.
Telling them this could sound like: “I love that you always want to spoil (kid’s name), and I don’t ever want to make you feel obligated, but this (special occasion) I know (s)he would really benefit from some new clothes/new soccer kleets/a bigger paint set.”
Sharing with them that they would be contributing to your child’s interest in a big way helps them feel like they are contributing and still gives them something to purchase. (Because after all, sometimes they just want to watch those kids open something!)
Consider their perspective
No matter what, always let grandparents know they are welcome to participate in your child’s life. (Considering that it is a healthy relationship for your child to have with them.)
Remember that these loving people have probably been waiting years for the chance to spoil some grandkids and now they finally have the opportunity to! They have more disposable income these days and they love putting it to good use.
I think most of us can relate to that stressful feeling of not being able to give to others.
We know the crunch of not having enough to contribute to something we feel called to. We know what it feels like having to choose fast food over fine dining because of the cost.
Chances are these grandmas and grandpas are feeling the fun and freedom of finally releasing that financial stress from their lives. They are trying to show love and gratitude the best way they know how.
Trust me, I spent a lot of time harboring resentment toward grandparents for always flooding my home with more toys (and it’s always the ones with tiny pieces that I step on in the middle of the night). What I ultimately realized was that this was how they showed love to my kids. Why would I ever allow myself to be mad that my kids have grandparents that love them this much?
Lightening the damage
Also keep in mind that there are things you can do to lighten the damage of the toys that will inevitably keep coming in:
- Do a declutter session with your kids before major events
- Try out toy rotating
- Stop buying your kids toys — you know grandparents have got it!
- Send toys back to grandparent’s houses (but not in a passive aggressive way)
No matter what remember that time is fleeting and in the grand scheme of life toy clutter is a pretty small problem to have. There are always steps you can take and things that you can try, but ultimately do you best to keep your peace.
Bonus read: Why My Kids Aren’t Minimalist Even Though I Am