In the past few days the article “Today’s families are prisoners of clutter” from the Boston Globe has been trending all over my Facebook feed. I’m not sure why this article got kicked back to life, since it is almost 5 years old, but it interested me nonetheless.
I was intrigued by the portrayal of 21st century kids as over-saturated with toys. Growing up, one of my sets of Grandparents rarely gave Christmas or birthday gifts. It was more of a special event when they did. They raised 6 kids, who had kids, and there were just too many Grandchildren to undertake gifts for every event. In contrast, my mom only has one Grandchild. My daughter also receives gifts from aunts and uncles.
That can make for a lot of toys.
I can imagine this situation reaches a crisis if you have a few kids, and the stream of toys keeps coming throughout the year.
The article states that one problem with the avalanche of toys is adults’ unwillingness to part with the toys and their desire to save the toys for future grandchildren. A result is Rubbermaid tubs in the garage and nowhere for cars.
What is the toy situation at your house?
I have been lucky to have other relatives in the family to hand things down to. One child gets all of my daughter’s clothes, and the choicest toys and books. I don’t want to overwhelm them with toys either! Other items I sold at rummages (like the Melissa and Doug mentioned in the article) or gave to Goodwill. Items we still have include Legos, dollhouse, Calico Critters, American Girl dolls, Barbies, dinosaurs, and wooden blocks. Those items put together are probably more toys than I had in my whole childhood, and that doesn’t even account for the items we don’t have anymore.
It’s hard for me to refute the assertion in the article that today’s kids have too many toys.
Playing the Scenario Out
Will today’s children become parents with tubs and tubs of toys to hand down, passing along the clutter crisis? I have found that every few years there are a lot of toys we can pass along in one way or another. Kids make great leaps in terms of interests and maturity and suddenly you both know that an item has served its purpose. The problem comes in when we — the parents — don’t want to let the toys go. It’s not Great Depression mentality. Maybe it’s closer to a wish to have another crack at reliving the joy of childhood. Certainly some items are “keepers” but saving enormous amounts of toys for hypothetical kids to come decades away means the toys aren’t able to give someone else joy. Saving things also make a lot of assumptions about what a future child would be interested in — My Little Pony? Beanie Boos? Anna and Elsa?
I can’t say this article doesn’t hit a nerve. Though we have come to the very end of the toy buying years, the article will stay with me as we go through bins of toys. Today we have some Dora Legos, Princess items, games, and craft kits headed for new homes. It’s a start.
What are your thoughts on the article? I’m interested in the opinions of those with and without kids.