I could totally play the blame game...my mom is absolutely psychotic when it comes to showering this kid with an exorbitant amount of gifts for no other reason than she loves him...but honestly, it's our home, so the buck stops with us. Boundaries have been put into place which limit the inflow of toys, but Wyatt's been here seven years, so we've got quite the collection. Crazy thing is, Wyatt isn't a typical kid. He has the handful of toys that get play time on a regular basis, but he spends the majority of his time playing with paper, crayons, scissors, and tape. Or reading.
Several times throughout the year, I dump all of the bins into a big pile, sorting them back into their categorized bins and chucking junk and broken toys into the garbage. Going into this holiday season, Wyatt's Christmas wish list grew with every commercial break. This was the first year he'd ever had a tone of greed and expectation in his wanting. It kind of threw me for a loop, since historically he's been a super content, generous dude. It was purge time again just before Thanksgiving, so I asked him to pick four toys to donate. Four. And I didn't set any limits on size or caliber. I knew we were taking baby steps...so I allowed the possibility that he'd pick two pair of the fleet of hotwheels he owns and call it a day. But he couldn't. Could not choose four measly toys. So I gave him multiple opportunities over the next couple of weeks. And he still couldn't choose four.
That scared me a little. So, I reduced his toys by about 40% while he was at school one day, donating everything, and he never noticed. Still hasn't. Jason and I discussed it, and decided that this was going to be a "no toys" Christmas. That did not mean Wyatt wouldn't get gifts for Christmas, just that none of the gifts would be toys. That decision also affected what we told other people to consider for his gifts. I've got to be honest, it was difficult to think outside of the toy box. But I'm so glad we did.
We walked the aisles of Hobby Lobby one day, and discovered Wyatt's utopia. Tablets of graphing and tracing paper, scratch art paper, washi tape, fun scissors, science-oriented craft projects, an oragami set, educational puzzles and books, DIY robots, and the so-far-most-played-with-item: eye droppers. We spent far less money, but he had a massive pile of gifts under the tree...all of which were opened with squeals of delight. And not a mention yet of the lack of new toys. Score one for the parents!
Wyatt's birthday is 11 days after Christmas, and we decided to let him have one toy of his choice in addition to the experience gift we gave him (the Monster Truck Show), so we took him to Toys R Us. The three of us walked every aisle, twice. On the first pass, he found a big toy boat playset that can be reconfigured into an endless variety of vehicles. None of the toys that Jason or I pointed out or would've chosen on our own were given a second glance. We made the rounds again, and that boat was literally the only thing in the entire toy store that he wanted. The lesson sank in just a tad deeper for the both of us. He is content to use his imagination. He enjoys being creative. He is not as toy-hungry as we thought.
So, going forward, our no-toy policy will remain in effect for Christmas, and he'll get one toy of his choice for his birthday. Throughout the year, we will be paring down and/or donating on a regular basis as usual, but from now on, Wyatt will be involved in the process. And the whittling will extend to the two of us as well. We have plenty of excess of our own. What use is any of this stuff just sitting on a shelf, collecting dust, when it could be blessing others? It's so easy to look at Wyatt's mess and be overwhelmed...mainly because he displays it so tangibly all over the house...but if we're going to drive the point home, we need to show him by example.
You know what that means...? You'll want to come to our garage sale this spring, or hit the resale shop for the leftovers afterward.