It is a story that just needs to be told, and I haven’t written exclusively about the boys in this space for a long time, and it’s time.
The boys have a play room over our garage. They almost never play in it because they want to be downstairs where the action is. I get it. Mostly the room is used for when friends or cousins are here and magically they want to be alone or as far away from their parents as possible.
Essentially it’s a place to store the overwhelming amount of toys they accumulate. There is seriously nothing more perverse then the amount of useless, one-time played with toys, these two have. Nothing.
I used to be really great about cleaning out all the toys once per month, while they were napping or at preschool since I had to do it in total secrecy, and then donating huge bags of them. I have used birthdays as an opportunity to donate toys to the Children’s Hospital and have refused grandparents, aunts and uncles from buying one.more.toy.
But still, they multiply.
Finally, this winter when the guilt about how much one has is at its peak, I decided enough was enough. They don’t use the room to play in, don’t play with the toys in it and are now, at age six old enough to donate their own toys and convert the room into a work and craft area.
If you read The Rundown this week you know they were gifted desks from their grandparents for Chrsitmas so the timing was perfect to clear out the toys once and for all.
A week prior to Christmas the boys woke-up to me cleaning out the play room. They went berserk, as expected. I settled them down by screaming something like “RELAX!” which of course was very relaxing, and then told them the deal:
- We are donating most of the toys in this room.
- You each have two small containers to fill with toys you want to keep so choose wisely.
- It’s Christmas and you two are spoiled beyond belief while other kids have nothing. I restrained myself from saying something like “there are toy-less, hungry children in Africa,” but it was hard.
They accepted my terms (since they had no choice) and proceeded to fill their containers in under 10 minutes and then started playing.
My husband and I continued to fill two giant bags of toys.
Afterward, the room looked amazing and in the following days we transformed it into a nice working area which is much more appropriate for them.
Last weekend, I took them to the YMCA. It’s very unusual for the boys to be there anymore since they’re in school most of the day and, on the weekends they usually go to my husband’s gym. Yes, we have separate gyms. #FirstWolrdProblems
However, from ages 2-5, they pretty much lived in the YMCA childcare and they love it there. So, I announced we would be going to the Y, I would do my workout first and then take them swimming in the indoor pool. They were super excited and I was happy to kill at least four hours of solo parenting on a Sunday.
Full of sweat and happiness post-workout, I proceed to pick them up from the childcare area. As soon as I walked in they both got up, bolted to the back of the room, pulled out one of those plastic kid’s shopping carts which was overflowing with toys, wheeled it over to me like two tiny gangsters and declared “THESE ARE OUR TOYS AND WE’RE TAKING THEM BACK!”
They had filled the entire shopping cart with the toys I had donated.
The woman who works there looked at me sheepishly, shrugged and said “Yeah, I guess they want their toys back.” But her eyes said “You have devil children.”
Oh. My. God.
My head started to spin. It was one of those moments when I looked around the childcare, and seemingly every single kid was playing with a toy that used to belong to mine. The boys had their hands on their hips, Vaughn was crying, Miles looked like he may just take every damn toy in there and good luck trying to stop him, and the childcare worker looked both utterly helpless and completely appalled.
I just laughed. Out loud and hard.
I mean, what the hell else could I do? I completely forgot that of course I had donated all the toys to the Y since they are always in need, but I never dreamed what a scene it would be if the boys went there and were suddenly forced to not only share each and every toy, but abandon them there for (gasp!) other kids to play with. It was ridiculous.
I relased their kung-fu grip from the handle of the shopping cart and brought them into the hallway, amidst accusations of “How could you?” “That was my Dave!” “One of them is a Christmas ornament mom! How could you give away a Christmas ornament?”
I tried to remind them of our deal with their playroom toys, and had them look back into the room to see how happy their toys were making the other kids. I even attempted to relate it to Toy Story 3 when Andy’s mom donates all his toys to Sunnyside Daycare and makes all the kids super happy which was only met with more tears and “that’s a movie that isn’t reeeeaaaallllll!”
So I changed tactics.
As luck would have it, we were going to Toys R Us that very day to spend gift cards they received at Christmas. I told them they could take back a toy if they wanted, but they would not be able to buy a new one.
Problem solved. They completely forgot all about it by the time we got into the pool and have mostly forgotten about it all together.
Did they learn a lesson? Probably not. Will they remember this event? Not likely. So I guess I’m the only one who has learned something here and I want to pass this wisdom on to all other parents – – > Don’t take your kids to the place you just donated all their toys to!
What kinds of things have your children (or other people’s children) taught you?
What do you do with ALL the toys your kids accumulate?
Oh you have an evil twin too? Must be a twin requirement. We recently went through the same thing. They could care less about actually playing with all their toys. But get rid of something they haven’t touched in months? All out panic meltdown. That was their favorite!! Yeah right. It’s a vicious cycle. One day I hope the lesson sticks.
Completely! It’s ridiculous. They also couldn’t care less about a toy until their twin has it!! OY! Glad you can understand my twin mama friend.
Oh lord, I don’t have children but I cannot even imagine that scene. I do have two brothers which probably would have caused something similar LOL. I hope they did learn but who knows.
Boys are insane is the theme here right? 🙂 At least it made me truly LOL!
Oh my gosh!! You handled that like a pro!! These kids seriously CANT LET GO of their toys!! We did a similar purge this weekend which seems like nothing now but they whined over every toy to the point where J as I were like forget it, when they go to sleep everything gets dumped. I don’t know what I would have said to the childcare worker lol
I’m definitely going back to the “when they’re sleeping, I dump everything” routine. So much easier!
It was so embarrassing because I didn’t know that particular childcare worker since we were there on a rare Sunday. If it had been one of the weekday regulars, I’m sure they would have laughed with me!
This made me laugh for like ten minutes straight. First of all, #scarytwin. Dying. Second of all, this is the kind of thing I feel like I would just laugh endlessly at should I ever become a parent. I greatly look forward to trolling my kids and teaching them valuable “lessons” that mostly just serve my amusement. Hence why I should not parent.
Wrong! That is precisely why you SHOULD be a parent. I mean, they owe me a few of these big laughs, right? So glad I made you laugh today. I think the whole thing is hilarious – lesson or no 🙂
OMG hilarious!!! I would have lost it! I reached the end of my rope this Christmas too with just how much stuff my kids have and they don’t play with half of it. We went through the stash of unopened toys as well as those in their room and cleaned out. Amazing, they were really willing to part with a lot of stuff – some to toys for tots and some to their younger cousin (I think because they knew they could play with it at his house). It’s really hard and I struggle with trying to teach them about giving and gratitude. PS I find all sorts of random kid selfies on my phone!
I totally lost it but in the best way. I have not laughed that hard in a while…it’s just too bad I was the only one laughing! I’m glad your boys are much better at letting go. And good to know I’m not alone in the “random selfies” category. Maybe we should start an Insta for them?
I don’t have children yet, but I can’t even imagine how I would respond other than to laugh! Lots of stuff and clutter gives me anxiety and I get guilt from having too much when others have nothing (eeek, I need to donate some stuff out of my closet!), so my kids will probably get their toys donated frequently.
Sometimes I try to through out one of my dog’s toys, and he actually got into the trash, the only time he’s ever done that, to retrieve the first toy we ever got him when I tried to throw the disgusting thing away. He also takes the appendages off all of this toys, just like Miles.
LOL!!! OMG I cannot believe your dog got a toy out of the trash. I guess they really are like humans. And I’m laughing that he takes appendages off too 🙂 As for donating – I’m constantly donating stuff from my closet and it feels so good to both get rid of it and give it to someone who appreciates and wears it!!
I’m sorry I laughed at your laughing. I am sure as a parent that is all you can do some times!
Don’t be sorry, it was hilarious! And yes, it’s either laugh or cry so I choose to laugh 🙂
Start thinking about cell phones etc., and how you’re going to handle that. Can’t even suggest how to do that; but I know that once you set a precedent, it’s a war to resolve. Growing up through childhood, I was so thankful and appreciative of the 2-3 gifts I received on Christmas. I cherished them all and played with them daily (unless it was Chocolate, then it didn’t make it to nighttime:)) ’till they disintegrated, they did’t have time to be donated. I viewed the Christmas tree and festivities as a gift.
I’m glad you learned your lesson, Allie! That was hilarious. One of my projects for January is to clean out the games/junk closet in the basement, and I’m going to do it when my kids are in school. Games they haven’t touched for years will suddenly become their favorite things in the world, I’m sure. But I will be donating them to a place we never go, thanks to your advice.
I’m so glad you can learn from me Dana but also severely disappointed to learn that hanging on to toys/games is not something they outgrow!! From now on I’m just doing it in secret and shipping it to Cambodia!
Bahahaha, that is totally something that would happen here. In fact, my boys get spoiled by their grandparents who buy their way into their lives (don’t get me started on that one). But we confiscate about half of the toys on the sly after they have been opened (because the grandparents need video or photo footage of them WITH the gift) and hide them in a closet. Well, this year we had a closet full of them so I wanted to donate them to Toys for Tots. So myself and the little guy, which I’ll admit, is probably still a bit too young to “get it”, brought the toys to the donation bin in our community. It took a little convincing for him to do this, but once we started he was very excited about helping out someone else….until….we actually got to the bin. I have never seen a meltdown so big and I literally had to pry the toys out of his hands while tears streamed down his face. It was quite a site :/ I have to laugh at it now, but I am SO with you. Our playroom is RI-DONKULOUS and needs to be purged. I do it the same way, on the sly or when they are at school…but they ALWAYS notice. Even down to one of 1,000 matchbox cars, they always know. Ahhh, parenthood 🙂
OMG I’m laughing so hard!!! It’s so true – parenting – AHHHHHH!!!! I love that we can all laugh because we’re struggling with all the same issues! Thanks Sue 🙂
Was I wrong to laugh at this? Sometimes kids are delightful in their very blunt honesty. And you handled it like a pro.
Oh no – that is the exact correct response! I posted this because I found it hilarious. I know they will eventually learn a real lesson in giving and will ultimately grow up to be generous human beings but I’m so glad I will have this to show them so we can all laugh 🙂 Thanks Diana!
That’s hilarious! Gotta love little boys…
Coming from a mom who knows! Thanks Wendy 🙂
OMG, I was completely laughing out loud at this!! I can imagine the looks on their faces when they realized all the toys were THEIR toys!! You handled it like a pro!!
A couple of weeks ago before Christmas I mentioned to Josh (8 1/2) that we should give his bike (which is suddenly wayyy too small for him) to our family friend’s little boy. He was def getting a new bike for Xmas (which of course he didn’t know). It was interesting to listen to his thought process. At first he was kind of like “But it’s MY bike” and I didn’t want to push the issue, but I reminded him that he couldn’t ride the bike anymore and wouldn’t it be nicer to have another little boy enjoy it? In the end he was okay with it and he got brand new cool bike which of course made it all better 🙂
I totally agree – kids have WAY too many toys that they don’t even play with!! When we moved, we purged SO many toys and gave to Goodwill and Salvation Army. I just packed them all up and gave them away. Neither of my kids have missed anything.
I love what you did with the playroom – it looks great!!
Thanks Natalie! And yes, sometimes the way they think is just so interesting. It’s definitely hard being a kid and learning all these lessons. I’m glad my kids make it so hilarious 🙂 BUT, from now on I will donate in secret and to places they never go!!
This was amazing!! I can just imagine their determined little faces in the childcare. Hilarious! I used to toy purge and leave it in a box on the sidewalk in Brooklyn, but I’d have to make sure it was left far enough away that Roman wouldn’t see it and leave instructions for which route his babysitter needed to avoid! I put a bunch of his toys in our storage space downstairs because we just don’t have room, but he somehow figured out they were there, so now I’m dealing with CONSTANT requests to go to the storage area to “pick out a new old toy.”
HAHAHA!! I love that you had to leave routing instructions for the sitter. That is hilarious!
As far as those constant requests? If it wasn’t that it would be something else!! Ah parenting. 🙂
I laughed so hard when I read this! Too funny. This is why I have to donate Sophia’s old clothes and not pass them along to her younger cousin who we see frequently, because it would be like the bad scene out of Cinderella: “no that skirt is miiiiiiiiine!!!” Riiiip. Screams. Tears. Cousin-hate. Lol.
So glad I could give you a laugh, and that you can relate. And here is just another huge example of how boys and girls differ. I give ALL the twins clothes to their cousin and they don’t even seem to recognize the clothes and pay less then zero attention. Their cousin wears ALL of them and I have even said things like “OMG I remember that! Boys do you remember that jacket?” Crickets.
Ja ja ja ja!! This post had me laughing so hard!! Because I can totally relate!! My son, child of divorced parents with 3 very generous tias and generous Step-family… he who has more toys than he could even imagine! I completely destroyed his world by donating 4 of his toys to Goodwill!
I had a weird similar story… after my divorce, my ex-husband donated all of the clothes our son had outgrown to the local Goodwill, many of which I had wanted to save, but that doesn’t matter now… anyway, I went to Goodwill to look for a pair of baseball pants for my son, and we found a shirt that used to be his when he was younger, the shirt was for the National Mexican Soccer team, and it has his name written on the tag from going to daycare. My son then spotted at least another 10 of his old shirts and demanded to know why they were at the store at not at his closet at his Dads. I was in a complete shock, heartbroken and felt completely emotionally destroyed…. So I started to put all of his clothes in a cart, because I was going to buy them back…. then after calming down my son and checking my own emotions, we calmly put the clothes back, picked 1 to “buy back” (his first birthday onsie) and left the store to go get ice cream.
Great advice on not taking kids back to the scene of the donations!!
OMG I cannot believe that happened!! I would have totally done the same thing although I may have gone though with the purchases. Good for you…and him. So glad you can relate (and laugh!) about my story 🙂