Saturday, August 29, 2009

When is it "Too Much?"

My husband and I go to great lengths in discussing the matter of giving our kids too much, too often. We love our children to death and see all kind of things that we would LOVE to get them. Things that we feel they could benefit from, but we don't want to start "spoiling" them from a young age. Granted, when you first have a child you buy lots of stuff to get started.

It is easy to rationalize purchasing the latest baby item, accessory, or toy that would add to our parenting comfort and their education/development. But is it really necessary? More than half the time my kids play with everything but their toys! And some "parenting-help-items" only last for a few months during that stage of development.

So here are a few questions for you...

How often do you buy "stuff" (toys, accessories) for your little ones?

What do you feel is excessive vs. not enough?

Of all the marketed items out there (toys or accessories), which ones do you feel are truly worth having?

10 comments:

Jared and Delia said...

This is a really good topic. Thank you Courtney. I like to give my children less. Yes we have been guilty of giving our child too much at times. I am sure that we will slip every once in a while but overall we live by less is more. Sometimes it is hard when they see friends and family getting more than he ever gets - like at birthdays or Christmas, but on the other hand he also rarely/almost never throws a tantrum when I tell him no if he asks if he can get a toy. He knows that when we go into a store we do not usually buy something for him. If we do, it is usually a treat or gum.

I think kids these days are in need of less these days. Maybe some toys are fun and educational but they can learn just fine with dirt and rocks. Well...not always but you get my point. Kids need to learn delayed gratification and to have one on one time with their parents much more than they need the latest Leap Pad toy.

Only you can know how much is the right amount for your kids. Sure...it is easy for me to say less is more. We don't have money to spend it. But I surely hope that when our student life is over and we hopefully attain gainful employment, that we will retain the lessons we have learned about living on less and being grateful for what we have instead of always needing the next newest thing.

The things that are worth the money...to me...: wooden blocks, legos, art supplies. Those are basic musts in our house and much of what we get is from back to school sales, or garage sales. Inexpensive doesn't necessarily mean cheap.

Plus... we get enough extra, fun gifts from grandparents. They don't need MORE from us.

Jared and Delia said...

Please know that this is just my opinion. Please let me reiterate that I think that each parent knows what is best for their child.

Jessie said...

Our girls have more stuff than they could ever use or play with, and it drives me crazy. We are very minimalist in our gifts to them for their birthdays and Christmas (and mostly just give needed clothing, anyway), but we have many many extended family members who always go way overboard on gifts, and thus we end up with stuff. I'm not afraid to buy something if I really think it is worth it for my children (i.e. it will last for a long time, through multiple children, and is a teaching toy... also, it must be able to be switched to off if batteries are necessary...), but most of the latest and greatest doesn't meet my criteria, especially if they're too expensive.

The "stuff" I'm willing to buy are clothing, and basic toys, like shape sorters, blocks, a few baby dolls and accessories, kitchen-play stuff, and books. Books are a biggie to me, as they encourage imagination in all areas of life. Also, we have a lot of dress-ups, for the same reason. I think it's also good to have some large motor skills equipment, as well, if possible--like a slide or sandbox or whatever--though there are usually parks close enough by to take care of that, as well.

I also branch this out to other "baby necessities" like a boppy, bumbo seat, and even a changing table--we have none of those things, and have gotten along just fine. I'm sure they would make things easier, but we just have too much stuff as it is, and I don't want my children to grow up thinking that they always need everything. It's too exhausting to keep up with so much stuff.

Like Delia said, this is just my opinion. I just get so tired of dealing with all of my husband's and my stuff--I don't want my children to grow up with that same burden. I want to teach them that it is ok to live simply.

Megan said...

We also are very minimalist in our approach to buying things for our son. Recently we bought him a puzzle and a bouncy ball. The puzzle because it teaches motor skills, the ball because he is in love with balls and it entertains him for hours!

I think it's important to teach children the value of something, and deciding what is important and what is not teaches that. Also, we don't have a lot of money to spend on toys and other things and so we don't buy things very often.

I do think books are very important and something that should be present for kids to take advantage of. I also like puzzles because the can be entertaining for a long time and you can get educational ones that teach colors, shapes, numbers, etc. I also like blocks and stacking toys and sorting toys as they teach motor skills.

On The Go Family said...

We try to keep things small. My parents and in-laws are pretty good about discussing with us what they're getting the kids, and this helps us keep things to a minimum. After a couple Christmases that just got too big, I finally got the grandparents to sign on to ONE GIFT. One gift from the grandparents, plus a couple gifts from other family members very quickly adds up.

Santa brings our kids one gift each, plus some treats in the stockings. Our kids LOVE it and look forward to that one toy so much. We try to get something we know they'll really love. I know as they get older and start comparing with friends we may have some questions to answer, but I'm ready to do that.

We clean out the toy room pretty frequently and this helps, too. As the kids outgrow toys, we either pack them away for future siblings or give/sell extra items. If we've got duplicates of something, it goes out the door. Less is definitely more in our playroom.

As for best toys ... we really love the Leap Frog magnetic alphabet fridge toy. We have a HUGE box of Legos that have provided years of entertainment (and we often find ways to use them as part of FHE). We've also made great use of our wooden train set.

I try to collect toys for my kids that go together. So for Christmas last year the Santa gift was a doll house, and then each grandparent got some furniture for the house. It turned into ONE great toy rather than 10 different ones.

We also limit the number of "friend" birthday parties our kids have and when they do -- the number of kids invited. Every other year they get to have a "friend" party. They invite the number of kids that corresponds with their new age. We don't have family nearby or we would probably skip friend parties all together at the young ages. Since this is my daughter's "off year" for a friend party, she is just having a playdate with some friends that day. No presents, no games, just playing with friends and appreciating their company and love.

I echo what the other ladies have said ... it's different for each family. Do what feels best and right for you and your kids. You'll know when it feels like "too much."

Raylynk said...

I think you can never have enough books! I feel that sharing a book with a child is one of the greatest things you can ever do.

Raylynk said...

Ooh Delia I think you hit it right on the money... blocks, art supplies, things that help a child be creative are the best! They don't need lots of electronic, flashing and singing devices. Simple is totally better and just as fun; I witnessed this while teaching at the preschool at USU.

Universitybabe said...

I'm on strike--the toy buying kind. I was recently thinking on older generations who had one toy if any. More often than not they had chores and work to do and then let their imaginations take them where they wanted. My kids have plenty. But I am so sick of toys that don't mean anything to them that I am tempted to lock the toy closet and see what happens. (They don't have a favorite right now so much so that if things started dissappearing they wouldn't really care.) We really don't buy toys other than birthdays and Christmas. This might be extreme but as a teacher I loved having books around yet just the other day I boxed up 3 diaper boxes full because the kids wouldn't take care of them. They love books but they had no reason to guard them. (Right now they each have 5 and we will rotate those as we find necessary, hopefully teaching them to care a little bit more.) We too love legos. THe girls play with polly pockets quite a bit but everything seems to go in stages. I think parents are better off encouraging them to explore, work, and try new things than they are to buy busy toys. (my opinion) I have seen playrooms stuffed with toys that kids don't even go into. I think I am going to work to get a group here to try toy swapping every month or so. My biggest soap box is that parents have got to tell kids no and show the kids that even parents are told no (by themselves or by others.) It might be harsh but I kind of think if a kid is continously throwing tantrums when told no (because they don't usually hear it, not just the fluke or anomalie fit) their lives are probably lived excessively. A child who can hear no and yet imagine, explore, dream and wonder what it would be like to have that item is learning a little bit about value. Watch the kids, they will let you know what they value, everything else is just "stuff."

Tannie Datwyler said...

On this subject and in light of the post I just did above, you should all read "Too Many Toys" by David Shannon - great book!! It goes right with this topic (which is a great one Courtney).

Diane said...

I think we have been really lucky in this area. I'm the youngest in my family so most of my nieces and nephews are older and we've gotten practically everything (toys and clothes) from my siblings. I've bought a few items for Hunter, but not much. It's also been nice because our receiving of the left overs has come in spurts, which hopefully hasn't been too overwhelming for Hunter.

I definitely go with less is better! and sometimes I even think about boxing up some of his toys and then rotating them out so he doesn't get board with them, and also then when it's time to trade he can feel like he has something new. - an idea I got from my sister.

The items I have bought were a play mat - which I'm really glad I bought a good one with lots of activities. Hunter practically lived on that until he could crawl, and I think it helped him grow and develop. We also bought him a push/ride toy that he can sit on and scoot around on or stand behind and push. I think anything that allows them to have more of an imagination is better. Some toys seem to be very limited in what you can do/pretend with them, and I don't know how much I like those.

Anyway, all my opinion, and I think as Hunter gets older, it will be interesting to see how we go about this topic - which is great! Thanks!