Saturday, October 3, 2009

What to do?

So here's my dilemma.
Every year after my children's birthdays or Christmas or any other gifting holiday, I always get a little sick to my stomach. My children have SO MUCH STUFF!!! I really struggle with the amount of excess going on in my home in the way of toys. The time is takes to pick up the stuff and organize the stuff day after day is exhausting. I am constantly giving away things and I already have an annual garage sell but still the stuff is starting to take over. Now before you go ahead an lay down some judgement just know that Mark and I are committed to teaching our children how blessed we are, that some families are in need, and that we have been called as Christians to help the poor and give to the needy. My children have very generous hearts and love to give to those children in need (Compassion, Angel tree children, Operation Christmas, etc...). But, asking them to share their stuff at playgroup is an entirely different story;-) This is my quest: to let them know that it's just stuff, to not get so attached to it, and to share, share, share.

FYI as I wrote that last sentence I became painfully aware how attached to my iPhone I am. Not a perfect example!

Just this week while Ryan was at school, I filled up three black trash bags full of toys. The sad thing is, when he returned home from school he didn't seem to miss anything. Outta sight, outta mind. Now don't get me wrong there are certain toys (i.e. anything Lego or Star Wars) that would have been noticed if missing but most of the "stuff" just takes up space. I go through phases of shoving everything in a closet and then actually organizing the madness. Right now I am in a 'get rid of everything' phase. I have been known to be a bit compulsive in this phase. In fact, the more hectic my life gets the more organized I become at home...I know weird huh?! Does anyone else struggle with this?
Bottom line is that I know that the stuff in itself is not bad. That receiving gifts is not a bad thing. I love a good gift! Do I suggest no gifts at their birthday parties? Our kids party is their gift from us so we're down at least one! Do I collect books instead of gifts and give them to the children's shelter? Limit the number of Christmas gifts to 1? What is the answer? I just really want to show my children in a tangible way that we have enough stuff. And I am at a loss.


MLP said...

Oh Angie...I've struggled with the same thing, too. But ya know, I grew up with always having LOTS of toys. My parents taught me that they were just 'things' and to always be thankful. I can't say many things about myself, but I can say that I am thankful for every person and everything in my life. I have NO DOUBT that you are teaching your children to be that way...NO DOUBT! Your children are so precious and such Godly little persons. It's quite obvious.
As far as the clutter with toys go, I am RIGHT WITH YA! It's madness! I love the idea of bringing a gift to a party for a needy child, but I'm afraid my kids would not go for that. Walker is always willing to buy one for a kid with no toys but one for himself, too! Opening gifts and sharing in that excitement at a party is so fun!!!
I have heard of people doing three gifts each at Christmas representing the three Wisemen. I love that idea, but I also love buying lots of gifts!
Are you beginning to realize that I am OF NO HELP TO YOU?!? hee hee! All this to say, I understand what you are saying! Keep bagging up stuff when they aren't looking and organize the other stuff. Sorry no help!
Have a great weekend!

Oh thanks for including me on the e-mail for Lauren. I definitely will sign up! Glad to!!!

Shannon said...

Oh Sister, how I feel your pain! I go through this ALL THE TIME! I am just the same way - give away, throw away, GET RID of toys/stuff that seem to take over my house! I have heard of people doing the "when you get a new toy, you have to give one of your old toys away." I love that idea and really want to start implementing it. So, if Reagan gets 7 new things at her birthday this year, she has to pick seven things and give them away (to a kid that has much less than she does, salvation army, etc.). Sounds so great to me!

Unknown said...

Hey! I don't have a solution and I don't have kids ha ha but I work at childrens medical center of dallas hospital and we have a lot of kids that donate their old toys to the hospital so that sick kids have something to play with.

recently we have also had kids that have bday parties and donate all their toys that they get to the hospital, this is much more difficult for kids, but some amazing things that I have gotten to see :)

elizabeth said...

One thing we have done in the past is ask friends for an unwrapped toy for the boys' birthday parties, and give the toys to Mission Waco for their toy drive. My boys birthdays are close to Christmas, so, not only do we have total toy overload, it is a good time to donate those items. They feel really good giving the toys away, and we feel good not having them in our house!

Katy said...

Oh sister, I do not know the answer to this, but I know we struggle with the same thing--and we only have one kid that has toys at this point!! :)
Anyway, I am the same way---constantly cleaning out, organizing, and getting rid of stuff. I always try to make a point to tell AM that we have to give some things away when we bring new things into the house. And I remember my parents reminding me growing up (all the time) that things were just that--things. Not eternal. You're not takin it with you! :) It's all His anyway. I agree with SB---we try to let go of some toys every time new ones come in. I say keep doin what you're doin! You're teaching your kids the right thing!

Keep Your Eyes on the Stars said...

We do 3 presents at Christmas and then a stocking. Joseph and I do it for each other and have not figured out exactly how to do it with Katie, but we will. We do a Gold, Frankincense and Mur. We have a price limit for each one and then we have to find a significant gift for that price. We started when we got marryied and really like it...we wrap them in significant paper (But Joseph always mixes them up to trick me). Just something fun, meaningful, and limiting.

Libbie said...

We are absolutely with you on this. One thing we have done for the past 2 Christmas' is to have the kids go through their toys to "help Santa because he is too busy to make all the toys for all the boys and girls this year". Now mind you the first year this was HARD and B did not understand why he had to give away his toys. So we were able to reason through what he didn't play with and what we could probably give it away. They put all their give aways in a laundry basket and threw away all the broken and toys with missing pieces. Then Santa normally brings a board game or video for B and D to SHARE as a thank you. Last year this worked well and the kids are beginning to understand that if they don't play with it then we need to give it away and only keep those that we really like. I love all the ideas posted, I guess no one truly has the answers - only what is working at that time for that family. Thanks for posting your struggles.

shannonmichaelis said...

I just went to this Living Water gala in Houston. They partner with With This Ring on building water wells for people in third world countries that don't have fresh, clean water, much less any water for 8 kilometers. The kids get sick from the salty, manured water, get diarrhea and sometimes die. The Ring corporation takes women's engagement rings as donation to build wells. I was so enamored and moved by this presentation, that I almost gave them my ring that very night. Still contemplating it - what's a diamond ring when 1 billion people in the world don't have fresh water? They showed how many BILLIONS of dollars EACH YEAR that we all spend on Christmas. Made me want to throw up. We don't really give Justin bday or Christmas gifts to begin with, but I even thought about giving gift cards to one of these companies with a water bottle saying I bought water for these communities in one of my family member's honor. The gift thing has gotten out-of-control, and we won't even take any of this stuff with us to heaven. I'm going to try and make lasting decisions with my gifts to further bless people vs. clutter up my house. Sorry for the rant, but I am on the same page.

Jill said...

That's a great great point! Since we only have one child and she is young, we have not ran into this problem yet. She has a small amount and they are easily contained. However I will say I felt a little conviction about all the little clothes we have in that closet!!!

Kylie said...

I'm so behind on reading blogs... since I just read this... but, I'll add my two cents anyway! :)

I agree whole-heartedly! Both of my kids have birthdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas-- it's ridiculous. I'm looking into our toy closet right now-- it's ridiculous. I know without a doubt that we will either request no gifts to the kids party this year, or request they be given to Mission Waco or our church's Toy Store. I'm glad you posted about this because it's just reaffirmed in me that this is what we need to do!