When There's Too Much Stuff for the Kids

by Ann Douglas

Too Much StuffDo you have a relative or friend who stops by with bags full of clothes, toys and other odds and ends they pick up at garage sales and second-hand stores? You know that these folks are just trying to be helpful, but their thoughtfulness is really starting to get under your skin.

The kids' toy cupboards and dresser drawers are already spilling over, but every week you're presented more huge bags of stuff you don't have room for, and end up having to give it all to someone else.

Perhaps you've been in this situation and have tried dropping hints like, "You really shouldn't have," or "Thanks, but I really don't think we have the room," but the friend or family member is just not getting it, and the bags keep on coming.

How do you end this madness without hurting feelings?

I'm going to offer a couple of different suggestions. Hopefully one of these approaches will work or will inspire you to come up with your own solution for handling these well-meaning and highly enthusiastic "helpers."

Take the Practical Approach

Show them how well stocked your toy shelves are and note that there's simply no more room for anything more until the boys outgrow some of these toys or the girls move onto something else.

Share Your Concerns as a Parent

Tell them that you want the girls to look forward to their visits because they are a much-loved member of the family and not because they are always loaded down with goodies when they come over to visit.

Suggest Giving to Charities

Maybe you know of a local emergency shelter that would love to have their own, "Aunt Jennie" shopping for them. If so, you could find out if your friend or family member would be interested in learning more about the shelter and the types of items it needs on an ongoing basis, in case these folks come across such items while making garage sale and second-hand store rounds.

Consider Them "Fairy Godparents"

Give in and accept your relative's gifts for what they are -- an act of love and kindness. Then find a way to pass that gift along to others. You can have your own garage sales or donate the proceeds to a charity. Pass any toys or clothing your family can't use to other families and charities that would be grateful to receive them.

We're all fortunate to have such a fabulous role models in our lives -- someone who walks the talk of giving to others. That's the real gift these folks give our families.

How do you deal with this situation? How do you organize and purge your piles of stuff?

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site, having-a-baby.com.

Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org.


I would be less likely to say something because I would not want the gift giving to stop, and who does not love new stuff. You can always give unwanted stuff to someone in need or the Good Will.