Sad girl looking out car window while holding teddy bear

Too Much

We LOVE kids even if we hate the stuff that comes with them. Or rather, the toys they accumulate that we’ve heaped on top of them. All while teaching them the same bad habits we learned as children when it comes to stuff. 

In the same way that sugar is addictive, so are gifts.

We dole out wrapped packages at any occasion, or no occasion, and then hover in anticipation to watch the manic thrill take over as a child rips through the paper to see what’s inside.

I’m not anti-gift.

I am against over-gifting and using material things as a substitute for time, attention, and care.

There are many different ways we can give to the ones we love but often we take the easy way out—we buy something.

I get it—toy stores and kid’s clothing stores are bright and colorful and festive, with a ton of adorable things to ooh and aah over, living vicariously through the imagined rush a child will have when they open a gift to discover some new item inside.

Trouble is, kids forget. Just like we do. They obsess over their favorite toy for a while, then grow tired of it and replace it with their new favorite thing.

Slowly, your house begins to look like a toy store, or worse, a dump.

Well, here’s some good news.

In a Wakefield Research study for Sparefoot, 92% of all parents said that they could donate, recycle, or throw away their children’s toys without them noticing. 31% could ditch half or more of their kids’ toys without consequence.

Wherever you are on the spectrum, here are 3 easy ways you can cope with kiddie clutter without also taking on a screaming child:

1) Teach your child about giving.

KidsHealth.org has some tips for talking to your child about donating toys that no longer serve them. Real Simple has additional ideas on where to send those toys.

2) Let them see you give things away.

Model best behavior by incorporating The Organizational Triangle® into your home and visibly using the 3rd leg: Something, Something Out. Kids as young as three years old can grasp the triangle and using it teaches them the fundamentals of organization. If they see you following this rule without whining or complaining, they will likely join you in deciding what toy goes out when a new toy comes in with less fuss.

3) Reward your child with an activity that doesn’t involve toys.

Shift the entire focus away from toys and into more engaging, creative activities you can do together. This way, you acknowledge your child’s growth and reinforce your family’s values at the same time.

For additional reading, check out Josh Becker’s post on fewer toys.

It’s never to soon to teach your little one about the benefits of More Love and Less Stuff in our world. Engage your children in developing the qualities you know will serve them and everyone around them like generosity, kindness, patience, and gratitude. It’s a great way to help the next generation prosper while learning to reject greed, meanness, and violence.

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About The Author

Andrew Mellen's picture

Andrew Mellen is an organizational expert, public speaker, and the #1 best-selling author of Unstuff Your Life!

Andrew has helped tens of thousands of people worldwide to declutter and simplify their lives while regaining time for the things that matter.

A sought-after authority on organizing and productivity, Andrew's addressed audiences from The Great British Business Show to TEDx. 

Corporate clients include American Express, Genentech, NetApp, Time, Inc., and the US Depts. of Education and Homeland Security.

The media has dubbed Andrew “The Most Organized Man in America.” He writes a featured column called “Ask The Organizer” in Real Simple. In addition, he has written for and/or appeared in: The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, America Now, The Lisa Oz Show, The Nate Berkus Show, Oprah & Friends, Martha Stewart Living Today, ABC, NBC, CBS, CW11, HGTV, DIY Network, LiveWell Network, KnowMoreTV, Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Day, Family Circle, USA Today, GQ, InStyle, All You, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Healthy UK, American Way, numerous trade and travel publications, and NPR.

He leads workshops and speaks internationally while maintaining a private practice working with clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies, trade associations, and non-profits to CEOs, award-winning filmmakers, and authors, as well as overwhelmed parents everywhere. 

In 2013, Andrew founded Unstuff U®, the world's first completely virtual personal organization training center, offering classes, workshops, and other online resources for businesses and individuals. 

Andrew is a member of the Experts Collective and serves on the faculty of the New York Open Center in New York City. He speaks frequently on the intersection of spirituality and organization at places including Omega Institute, San Francisco Zen Center, Tassajara, All Saints Church, JCC Manhattan, and the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, among others.

Previously, Andrew was an award-winning playwright, actor, producer, and director and the former Artistic Director of Alice B. Theater (Seattle), DC Arts Center (Washington, DC), and Shuttle Theater Company (New York). He is a contributing author to Yes Is the Answer: (And Other Prog-Rock Tales).

Andrew lives by his motto: More Love, Less Stuff!® 

Find him on the web at andrewmellen.com.

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