Updated: Sep 23, 2020
The Struggle is Real
From the moment you announce that you are expecting a child, the shopping begins. Your wife, your mom, your mother-in-law, your sisters, your aunts, your best friend's mom, they will ALL be on the lookout for baby stuff. The toys are going to be coming in hot! LOTS OF THEM! Imagine the toys you had as a kid. Whatever you collected or liked to play with. Think about the total amount of toys you had growing up. Now take that number and triple it. Now you got kids toys in 2020.
Some of the toys are legit. Quality made, perhaps educational, and you will want them around your house. Some of them on the other hand will just be taking up space. Cheap crap made in China. Your kids will un-box it, play with it for a few days and then never touch it again. You'll feel guilty about wanting to get rid of your kid's toys, so you will ask them if you can give it to charity or throw it in the garbage, you just want it gone. Right there was your mistake. You asked them. As soon as you ask, that toy becomes the most important thing they have. They will whine and cry to keep it, and chances are good you will probably get suckered into keeping it too. Good news is that you have options to deal with this situation. Let's take a look.
Option 1: Do Nothing.
This is by far the worst option. Everything that you cherish will get buried in toys. The hand tools, the power tools, the yard equipment, the gaming systems, EVERYTHING will get buried. By the time your first one is 5 years old you will overwhelmed and will likely end up on an episode of Hoarders.
Option 2: Convince them to either give them away or throw them away.
This is the best option as it allows for the kids to have a say in what happens. If they are broken or for other reasons can't be donated, then there is a good chance they will end up in the garbage. You can try to convince the child to toss it themselves or you may need to proceed to option 3. If you are able to convince them to throw them away, that's fantastic. Congratulations on your parenting techniques, you are doing something right!
If the toy is in good enough condition to donate, then convincing them to give the toy to a child in need may not be as hard as you think. I'm not saying there won't be any pushback, but convincing your mini me that the toy will live on and provide another kid joy and companionship may be an easy sell. I was talking to someone about this one day. They offered their kid $20.00 if they would fill up his pickup truck with things that they didn't need. A short time later, the truck was filled.
Option 3: Sell them in a garage sale.
This is a decent option if approached correctly. If you tell them that they can sell their toys and leave it at that, you may end up with the tantrum. If you frame it in a way that they will get money to either put in their piggy bank or to go buy a NEW TOY, then the chances of them agreeing are much better. You see the conundrum don't you? If you let them go buy a new toy, you are only swapping out toy for toy. You may bring home more crap that will only get played with a couple times and the cycle starts again. Try to get them to put that in their piggy bank. Save it for a big purchase, something that isn't junk.
Option 4: Secretly throw them away.
This is a riskiest but most effective option. If those nuggets are sleeping or out of the house, you simply chuck that toy into the garbage. It's as easy as that. Be forewarned though, you must take that garbage bag out of the house and out of sight. If you simply put it in the trash and leave it in the house, you run the risk of a child throwing something away like the wrapper of a snack and seeing their prized piece of garbage, in the garbage. Mutiny will surely follow. The item will be removed from the trash can and you will be reprimanded.
The other risk for tossing out these items secretly is if the child suddenly remembers the toy and questions where it is at. You have a choice and must choose wisely. You can choose to straight up lie and tell them that you don't know where it is. This option runs the risk of crying. Second choice is that you can tell them the truth, that you threw it in the garbage when they were napping. This option will likely also end poorly with a tantrum and waterworks. As you can see, tossing the toys in the garbage is risky business and the outcome may not end well.
Option 5: Preemptive Redirection.
I personally love this option. When people ask what your nugget wants for his or her birthday, holiday, or whatever celebration in which they are getting gifts, take this as your chance to redirect! You want EXPERIENCES! Ask for things that you can take the little nuggets to go and DO; a gift certificate to Chuck-E-Cheese, a trampoline or water park. Tickets to see Disney on Ice or the Monster Truck Jam, or even a movie. Any of these offer something that no toy could ever offer. Something precious, something PRICELESS. A family memory! These options are endless and they won't be wasted or end up on the 'Island of Misfit Toys'.
Speaking from experience, of my daughters really wanted to go to The Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park. We told some of the family that gift cards would be the perfect present. We were able to go and make the trip more affordable. When presented with the option of a party with friends or a trip to the park, the option was easy for my daughter. She picked the water park without hesitation. The gift cards made it more affordable, my daughter got the perfect gift and we all made memories. Our family had such a great time at the waterpark that the kids still talk about that trip years later. It was not only special for the birthday girl, but my other two daughters, my wife and I all had a blast too.
At the end of the day, your kids will get toys. Whether it is at a celebration, or out of the blue from Grandma, there is no stopping it. You better start strategizing Tetris style to be sure you are prepared. Start thinking about organization as well as exit strategies for when they start to get out of control. Hang in there, you've got this.