Dear Grandparents- please stop giving the children So. Much. Stuff!

too much stuff from Grandparents

Grandparents, we know you love your grandchildren and you want the very best for them.
However, the amount of ‘stuff’ you give them, no matter how well-intentioned, is not doing them
good. It has an even bigger impact on their parents.

My writing has one sole goal- to provide inspiring and practical tips for busy mums on how to get
and stay organised at home to make life easier and more fun. However this particular article is a
little bit different and may put a few noses out of joint, and for this I offer no apologies. Why?
Because every day I work with overwhelmed and stressed women, and enough’s enough.

I have just spent the past three days working with a mum of two boys who felt “at the end of her
wits.” What have we been doing for three days? Sorting out the kids’ toys which have taken over
the whole house!

Over three days I built quite a rapport with my client- including three straight hours sorting just 1
tub of random Pokemon, Bakugon, Skylander cards from the Lego, Trash Packs (oh my… who invented
this evil stuff). This client is a straight shooter and we can talk honestly to each other. A huge part
of my work with removing overwhelm is teaching the skills to prevent the circumstances which feed
it., so I bluntly said to the Mum “you know how to stop this don’t you? Stop buying it”.  She looked
me straight in he eye and said “I have not bought stuff for the kids in ages… it’s the grandparents.

OH MY GOSH! I hear this SOOO often from my clients and workshop attendees! Well-meaning
grandparents give excessive stuff for birthdays and excessive stuff for Christmas and even often
giving gifts EVERY TIME they come to visit. Sometimes gifts can be quite expensive, and many
times, gifts come from the op shop or two dollar shops and is a very poor quality.

too many toys

Now, let me just clarify something- I love grandparents! I have wonderful memories of mine, and I
am so thankful for both of our sets of grandparents who have supported my boys as they are
growing up and have gifted them some fabulous presents. However, there is a fine line between
generosity and going completely and utterly over the top. So often I see toys making families
extremely unhappy rather than the intention of making the child happy. I’m sure gifts are given with
the best of intentions and with love, but the grandparents get to go home to their neat and tidy homes and leave the poor mums and dads to pick up all the stuff they have left behind with their grandkids.

So what’s the answer to this quandary? I suggest to my workshop attendees to ask friends and
family and grandparents to consider other options for gifts instead of more stuff. This includes
experiences such as going to the zoo or the park or other interesting and exciting things that the
grandparents can do to create memories with the grandchild. Or for something longer term,
consider starting a share- fund for the kids. This doesn’t mean you have to contribute hundreds of
dollars- rather contribute the same amount you would add to the toys to this fund instead and set
something up for the kids in the future. On the side you may like to give one small item that the
kids can enjoy on the spot.

If you’re a mother drowning in Grandparent-induced stuff, don’t go alone. I’d love to work with you
to reclaim your space- both physically and mentally! If you’re an excessively-gifting grandparent,
this is merely some food for thought when you’re next thinking about purchasing just a little
something gift for your grandies.

Julie Cliff, Melbourne Professional Organiser at Space and Time specialises in home management
systems for professional, working Mums. Mums that are having trouble keeping up with work, the
kids’ school and after school commitments, household chores and, consequently, they are feeling
exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed. Sound familiar? Julie would love to hear from you –