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Friends, Family, and Loved Ones: Please Stop Giving My Kids So Much Crap

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OK, I have an announcement:

I am at my wits’ ends. No, seriously, I am.

I am a middle-aged woman with a bunch of little kids, a retirement plan, and a roof over my head, but I am struggling with something that I feel should definitely not be an issue.

I am drowning in stuff.

And that stuff is coming directly into my house from other people, who seem to think that the best thing that anyone can do for a small child is to throw said stuff at it in an attempt to keep it happy.

I have stuff from school, stuff from well-meaning family, stuff from preschool parties, stuff for our stuff, stuff from stuff I need to fix, stuff from stuff that broke, and stuff from other moms who thought I might want some stuff.

And I’m over it.

I don’t even know what to do with all of it. Do I give it away to someone else, thus passing my crap onto them? Do I throw it away, thus feeling guilty for further adding to our landfills? Do I hope someone at Goodwill might take it?

It’s not that stuff is necessarily bad, per se, it’s just that the stuff that my kids bring into this house is actual crap. There are toys that will break in minutes, toys that my kids do not need, toys that another parent wanted to get rid of, clothes that my kids also don’t need, papers and crafts and snacks and trinkets and knick-knacks that I am spending all of my time sorting, organizing, and purging.

And don’t even get me started on birthday parties. I love throwing a good birthday party, but for the sake of trying not to turn my kids into entitled, spoiled brats and also not to have my house transformed into an actual toy factory, I haven’t thrown my kids a birthday party in years.

Even if you insist on “no presents,” it turns into a present-fest and before you know it, your kids are ignoring their guests and tearing through the next gift and there’s paper flying everywhere and you’re left in a crumpled heap of exhaustion, crying into the giant pile of presents your kids already forgot about by the end of the night.

There comes a point when it feels like it’s me, the mom, versus the rest of the world and all the people who want to give my kids all the things.
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In the world of mothers, I’m a mom who enjoys a good de-cluttering session. It’s kind of like therapy. I enjoy keeping a clean house, and I also feel like we all have a nicer life in a clean, organized-ish environment. But there comes a point when it feels like it’s me, the mom, versus the rest of the world and all the people who want to give my kids all the things.

I mean, let’s just take school, for example. I love seeing the excitement on my kids’ faces when they bring home crafts and papers from school, but what the frick am I supposed to do with it all?

We have plastic plates, plastic placemats, more snow globes than I can count, ornaments, picture frames, paper weights, plants, and more than a few unidentifiable objects that my children insist are treasures more precious than gold.

And after said stuff makes its way into my house, we begin the waiting game.

I quietly stash it out of sight until I’m certain they have forgotten about it and then, when the moment is right and they are 1) in bed 2) distracted by some kind of shiny screen or 3) scrounging for a snack like they do 99.98 percent of the time, BAM! into the recycle bin, trash can, or donation bag it goes.

Followed (of course) by them promptly asking me the very next day where that object is and me feigning ignorance.

Oh, that paper dragon?  Oh, yeah, of course I loved it. Let me think … um, I think maybe Daddy borrowed it?

There is a huge movement for moms to turn to minimalism in an attempt to become happier parents, who aren’t spending their lives cleaning up after their kids. And I have to say, I completely support it, I applaud any mom who does what she has to do to make her life a little easier.

But here’s the thing: moms are not the ones who need help with minimalism. I’m convinced, like most things in life [insert eye roll here], it’s not me that’s the problem — it’s clearly the other people who are sabotaging my efforts to keep a clean and organized home.

So moms of the world, if you too feel like you’re drowning in stuff with questionable origins, let me just say, I am right there with you.

Here’s to finding the light — out of the pile of crap I’m currently under, that is.

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