Reader Question: How do we put a stop to the overwhelming amount of toys that enter our house for birthdays, Christmas (& everything in between!)?

Question:  I’m a mom of 4 and we are far from minimalists, though it would be a dream to make a move in that direction.  We have a ton of family, and they all love to lavish my children with gifts: Christmas, birthdays, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving they find any reason to buy my kids MORE.  I’ve politely asked them not to, I’ve moaned and groaned behind their backs and even tossed and donated much of it.  But I feel guilty, because family comes over a lot and my children tell on me, and family notices some how in our sea of toys that their most recent gift cannot be located.  How can I put a stop to this?  I need a creative idea here.


I totally get it. We have four kids age 7 and under and they are the only kids on my side. Their grandparents and aunts and uncles LOVE to spoil them and seem to bring them something almost every time we see them.

Something from the Dollar Store, another thing from a garage sale, this thing they couldn’t pass up at Target, a souvenir from the trip they took and oh look! We just found this when we were cleaning the basement! ;)

It is overwhelming for my husband and I at times, but it can be overwhelming to the kids, too.


How I Store & Organize Kid’s Clothes

It still strikes me at times, that our problem is excess when the majority of the world lives with so much less. Even my mom never had this problem of WAY too many kid’s clothes.

So let’s not be too hard on ourselves if our kids grow before they have a chance to wear things we bought  or if we sometimes go overboard at the Target clearance rack or garage sales. And lets also extend grace to our well meaning friends and family who contribute to this “problem.”

We’re all working to figure this out.

How much clothing do kids really need anyway?

Simplifying Toys: Which ones made the cut

Children’s toys can be one of the most daunting areas of simplifying life.

Our kids love each and every one (just ask them!), we’ve invested good money into them, and almost certainly, as soon as we get rid of any they ask where it is and break down because it was their favorite.


But…it has to be done, because we all know that they don’t actually need as many toys as they have and the clutter is causing stress in our homes.

The Best Toy Storage & Organization

I’ve been on the hunt for quite awhile to find a sleek and affordable solution for storing toys in our basement family room. I wanted something that looked a little sophisticated since it would be in plain view. It also needed to have large bins, be easy for the kids to use and not break the bank…

The best, most affordable and durable toy storage

The best, most affordable and durable toy storage

We often joke that everything in our house is from Craig’s List or Ikea, so no surprise that we found these really great black shelves and bins at Ikea. Each section with bins was $39, so total we invested around $120 for the three sections we have.

The best, most affordable and durable toy storage

I really appreciate how easily the bins slide in and out and how STURDY the whole thing is, it seems that it should last until we have grandkids :)

The best, most affordable and durable toy storage

In my perfect, organized world, each bin would be neatly sorted with Little People, dolls and trucks, but currently I’m happy if everything just ends up off the floor at the end of the day.

And here is a fun idea from Shanty 2 Chic to make your own shelves for the bins:

The best toy storage!

How cool is that? She even includes plans to build the shelves, find them here at Shanty 2 Chic.

The best, most affordable and durable toy storage

What I also love about these shelves and containers is that the bins are virtually indestructible. Of course, this would NEVER actually happen at our house, it is for demonstration purposes only ;)

And they went together quickly and easily. I was able to put all three together during one nap time while 9 months pregnant…not bad, right? :)

Related Posts:

Simplifying Toys: Which Ones Made the Cut
Simplifying Toys: The Time & Sanity Saving Trick for Sorting ALL of Your Kids’ Toys in an Hour

Have you found practical toy storage solutions that you love? Please share!


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Are my relatives spoiling my kids? (despite my best efforts!)

As we unpacked the van after all of our Easter celebrations last night I felt a little overwhelmed by all that the kids had received.

Spoiled is an attitude and mindset, not a number of gifts or possessions.

Spoiled is an attitude and mindset, not a number of gifts or possessions.

So naturally,  I began to compose a note in my head to send to all of our well-meaning friends and family:

Hi there,

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful gifts and treats you gave the kids for Easter! They were thrilled to receive them and have had so much fun playing with their new toys. But out of fear of our children turning into materialistic spoiled rotten brats, we kindly ask that you refrain from giving them gifts on traditionally non-gift-giving holidays (like Easter, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving). On gift-giving holidays (Christmas and their birthdays) would you kindly only present them with one single gift (preferably an activity based gift or best yet, an “experience”).

Thank you so much for understanding and for loving our kids so well, they are very fortunate to have you in their lives!


I ran the idea by my twin sister (one of the culprits). She was like: get a life.

But truly, she really didn’t appreciate it.

You see, one of her love languages is gifts, so she LOVES giving gifts. She enjoys shopping, and contemplating, and wrapping and every step involved with a thoughtful gift. She also loves receiving them and appreciates when thought is put into gifts given to her. So to ask her to stop giving gifts feels unfair, it is one of the ways she expresses love.

And Nana (my mom) would likely stage a revolt, she has told me in the past that it is her “right” to buy her grandkids things ;)

But guys, surely you understand my desire to raise kids who are not greedy, spoiled and expectant of gifts all of the time???

So as I reflected on it more, I realized that being spoiled isn’t about a certain number of toys, it is about an attitude. And if our relatives can un-do everything that my husband and I have taught and instilled in our kids in one single holiday, then they aren’t the problem, WE ARE.

Spoiled is an attitude and mindset, not a number of gifts or possessions.

Oh sure, things could probably be scaled back a little bit and I do appreciate that everyone knew we we have been eating healthier and cut way back on the candy (look at all the bubbles and new toothbrushes from Nana– My grandma even labeled the bubbles with names so the kids wouldn’t fight over them, VERY considerate!). But at the end of the day, Tom and I need to be thoughtful about the values our kids are learning because they are growing up in a time when they will have to manage way more material possessions then we ever did.

So while they are young, we’ll help them.

We’ll ration the candy and the bubbles and help them to enjoy the new things that they got. We’ll help them to express thanks and to realize that they are so fortunate to be so well loved by so many, and giving gifts is just one way of expressing that. And we’ll help them to become thoughtful gift-givers because it is an important part of our culture.

And I’ll appreciate that I have never once had to buy our kids bubbles or side-walk chalk ;)

Spoiled is an attitude and mindset, not a number of gifts or possessions.

And how can you not want to give every toy in the store to these cute little faces??? :)

Spoiled is an attitude and mindset, not a number of gifts or possessions.

Have you found a tactful way of asking friends and family to give your children less? I always love to hear new ideas!


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Co-sleeping doesn’t make you a weak or inadequate parent…(of course it doesn’t make you a superior parent, either!)

The other day a woman left this comment on my post about transitioning your baby from co-sleeping to their own crib at I Think We Could Be Friends (you can find the article here– it has been one of the most popular!) and it made me think back to our first year of parenting. Here is what she wrote:

It feels good to find an article that doesn’t make you feel like a bad parent or a failure because you decide to co-sleep. Our little man is 8 weeks and we started co sleeping with him at 5 weeks when he had a bout of gas and bad tummy pains. It was emotionally draining for us fighting to put an already suffering baby in Moses basket (bassinet) that he did not feel comfortable in.

It works for us to co-sleep, I can feed him whenever he needs and easily calm him by letting him know that we are there.  Thank you for this helpful and honest article and for not passing judgement. Being a new mother is already hard without people judging you.”

I knew exactly what this new mom was talking about. I distinctly remember feeling very isolated and like we were doing something wrong when we decided to co-sleep (after we SWORE we wouldn’t).

Before we had kids I imagined co-sleeping to be an inconvenience with perfectly good nights of sleep ruined by flailing limbs. And sensing that this was also the opinion of the general public, I was very careful not to mention that our baby slept with us at night until the other mom would somehow suggest that she co-slept, too, at which point it felt safe to let my guard down.
Co-Sleeping is ok! Do what is best for YOU and YOUR BABY :)

And while I wasn’t a proponent of co-sleeping before we had kids, it actually surprised me how natural it felt to have my babies right next to me. I loved the snuggle time and NOT having to get out of my warm bed in the middle of the night to nurse. Our youngest is 6 months now and just snuggles right in next to me. As they get older they become more active, which is why we transition them out around the one year mark–but you don’t have to!

And as I’ve read more about co-sleeping over the years, it is interesting to see how science can support the case. It turns out that moms who co-sleep actually get more sleep at night (this was definitely true with our colicky first), and mom’s sleep cycles synch with the babies and we naturally awaken about 5 minutes before they want to nurse. There is also really cool information about how our exhaled carbon dioxide (monoxide? I don’t remember which) helps to regulate the baby’s blood oxygen levels when they are first born.

But while I know all of this now, looking back, I realize that I was just looking for someone to say that what I was doing was ok and that I wasn’t a bad mom because of it.

So, if you find yourself in a similar place, know that it IS OK to co-sleep (and more moms do it than you probably realize!).

And, if I do feel criticized by a (usually well-meaning) mom who has decided not to co-sleep, I just try and extend grace and remember how I used to feel about it.

AND, all of this to say: if you choose not to co-sleep, that is ok, too!

I have a friend who said that her husband would sleep on the couch if she brought the baby in bed because he wasn’t comfortable with it. So co-sleeping probably isn’t for them!

In the end, do what is best for you, your baby, and your family and try not to worry about what “other moms will think” :)



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