Every night it's a fight with the kids about putting up their toys. "Get all the Legos up," I'd bark at them. "Put your toy trains away. Why is your easel in the middle of the floor? Didn't I ask you to pick up these blocks?"
And then it hit me. My fussing wasn't really about the toys—it was about the fact that they just had so many that it was hard to keep them from spreading all over the floor.
I haven't even purchased most of these toys. I'm laying the blame on my overeager friends with disposable income and grandparents hellbent on spoiling the mess out of their only grandbabies. Last November I went to Toys 'R' Us with my parents and watched them clear the shelves of toys for my two little ones. I'd put one toy back, they'd simply toss two more in the cart. It was a battle I lost for sure.
Every time my friends come over they have a present or two—a new book, a teddy bear, some blocks or an action figure. It's never-ending.
With the holidays coming up, I've decided that this year I'm taking a stand. My kids already have more toys and games than they know what to do with—is it really necessary for them to have a bunch of presents under the tree each year?
I admit, I used to feel pressure to keep up with the Joneses, but I realize now that the Joneses don't know me and don't care about my budget or my financial goals. My kids need to take their cues from me, not the outside world.
I've been a full-time freelancer for the past two years and having a firm grip on my finances is just something that comes with the territory. I have a hard time justifying why my kids need a new Barbie or a new LeapFrog game when they've barely played with the items they got for Christmas last year. It feels wasteful.
Now, I don't want to come off as a total Grinch. I've seen a gift-giving rule floating around the Internet that gets to the heart of what I'm trying to do this year as we cut back. The rule is that each child gets something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. Four items and you're done. I can get with that.
Maybe to drive the point home even further, we can get rid of the old toys to make room for the new. Perhaps packing up the toys and donating them to a local homeless shelter will make more of an impact on my kids than anything I could possibly say.
Do you feel pressured to buy your kids a lot of Christmas presents? Would you feel like a bad parent if you didn't?
Tara Pringle Jefferson is the founder of TheYoungMommyLife.com and the author of Make It Happen: The Young Mommy Guide To Creating The Career You Crave. Follow her on Twitter or check out her blog for her insights on what it means to be a mom, wife, student, writer, and about three other labels she’s too tired to remember.