January 12, 2009

Stuffed Animals


One of the biggest drawbacks about driving a SUV is that I don't have a back window ledge on which to display my children's stuffed animals.

A few weeks ago, however, I found a way to "make do," and, in doing so, made my kids very happy. I agreed to haul around a few weathered specimens from my kids' extensive collections of furry animals, so long as the faux beasts hung out together, in a trash bag, in the back of my trunk.

The stuffed animals were thrilled to escape the confinements of my basement playroom, but were considerably less excited to learn that their new home was the donation bin of the Salvation Army.

Shamu and his friends were stunned into silence. Fortunately, they found a loud and angry advocate in my five year-old son Cortlen.

"Hey!" he shouted in my direction. "You just threw away my stuffed animals!"

I tried to step on the accelerator, but Cortlen was already out of the car and scaling the wall of the dumpster.

"I'm coming!" he screamed to the contents of the bag.

The donation man looked annoyed. The disturbance at his dumpster was ruining his cigarrette break.

"Do you want this or not?" the man asked, holding up the bag.

I starting shaking my head when I saw the horrified look on my children's faces. It has just occurred to them that maybe I had thrown away their friends ON PURPOSE.

"Big mistake," I laughed as I chucked the bag back into the car. A porpoise, two dolphins, a large single-eyed reticulated python, and a colony of howler monkeys heaved a collective sigh of relief.

"That was close," said Kellen.

"Yes it was," I replied through gritted teeth.


How, when, and where do you liquidate your stuffed animal kingdoms?

54 comments

Lisa said...

I have in the past resorted to actually paying my kids to get rid of them. $1 for the big ones, $.50 for the little ones. I have also been guilty of getting rid of them when they aren't looking in hopes that they don't notice.

Loonstruck said...

Without him. It takes a little co-ordinating with another mom, anxious to be rid of stuff. Mine has so much stuff that he doesn't play with that it will be a year before he asks me about something I got rid of. But he can't see me do it.

That's where another Mom comes in. She can take him and I can take hers and my stuff to the Goodwill or the dumpster, depending.

FintonsMom said...

OMG! Why does every person feel that your child needs just one more stuffed animal??? Please just donate to the kids college fund! I have 4 BIG totes of stuffed animals in the attic... just waiting to be thrown away!!!

Tara Jubilee said...

I totally agree with Loonstruck. I don't have kids, but I use this trick on my husband! :) I disconnected our VCR (we already had 2 DVD players) and put it and the VHS tapes in the closet. Six months later, when he had not noticed EVEN ONCE that they were missing, I sold them. He was mad when he found out, but I held my ground since he didn't notice.

Moose and Family said...

ROFL - We have the same problem in our house. Especially with clothes. I have to get rid of things when the kids aren't home or are sleeping. They never know the difference most times!

Mia said...

That is the beauty of the school hours. I can ransack their rooms and the playroom for all those items which will make some other child very happy!

Bugs said...

We have an anti-animal policy at our house. Problem solved...until number three came along and can't get enough of the furry stuffed things. UGH!
Luckily he's outgrowing that stage and heading into the wonderful 'let's see if this fits into the outlet, again' stage.

Janille said...

Boxes - then you can close lids and put stuff on them until the kids think it is just some new furniture item mom is stacking in a room. Plus, I like to put clothes I am giving away on the top, to camoflauge the toys below. My kids will poke and prod at bas,but not boxes. After a month or so, off it goes to donation.

Jana said...

Anti-animal policy? Why didn't I think of that?

sandi said...

My daughter is 26 and came home to find that I had emptied her closet of her beenie babies - she was horrified and pissed - especially when she found out I got rid of the 20 pairs of shoes that she had also left. You have to make sure that they don't throw them away but know that they are going to little kids that don't have any.(Might work - might not!)

Diane said...

I do it while they are at school.

Makayla said...

On behalf of your children... please just let them keep them for a while. I had one of those ceiling net things FULL of stuffed animals... until I was a teenager. :) My 16 year old sister still has hers. I'm sure her mom isn't thrilled about it either.

I'm sure your children will love you for it now... and later. :)

Becky said...

When we moved the movers "lost" the box with all the stuffed animals in it!


Worked great and it as not my fault at all!

April said...

we have a few donation places that will pick up around here. we just leave the bag with a 'pickup' note on our front door and it all magically disappears. fantastic stuff!

Julie said...

Funny, ours just have a way of disappearing around our house. It seems to occur around the same time the charity truck is collecting donations at the curb. Coincidence?

Samantha said...

Jana,

I'm a professional organizer and while I usually work with adults on helping them let go of their stuff, occassionally I've had the opportunity to work with children.

Parents are always amazed at what they kids are willing to let go, partly because it's NOT the same things they would have chosen. I suspect it's also helpful to have a non-parent person there, since that helps remove the rebellion factor a little. :)

As much as possible, do try to involve your kids in the process. It helps teach them how to be organized. And hey, if you can keep them from needing my not-so-cheap services in the future, good for you!

Sarah said...

Hide them inside the bags with the clothes. Layer some clothes on top of them and they will never notice. It also helps to have the talk about how they can never get another toy if they don't get rid of some to make room. Of course I don't know how much longer that will work, but it has so far.

Melisa said...

Let me know when you figure this out. I had taken a bunch of donation toys to the basement, but my boys found them during the Christmas decoration exodus. Now most of them are back upstairs after much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. ARGH! And they HAVE to be gone before we move to Philly!

Renny said...

what my mom did when we were small and didn't want to give up our ratty toys that we never played with to less fortunate children? Smack us, tell us to shut up and got rid of the toys then anyway. It worked. And I feel I'm a better person for it.

Mary and Steve said...

in the dead of night with stealthy silence.

Leslie said...

I have to agree with the others who have already commented. Do it without your kids knowing. I've done that before and it's hard going behind their backs but it seriously was the only way!! And in my defense, I only axed the ones I knew they wouldn't miss. There are others that may be around a lot longer - much to my dismay- but their time will come too. I'll make sure of it!

Lisa Loo said...

I let them pick out which ones they want to "put up for awhile" and put them in a box on a shelf in their room. I switch out the boxes, leave a few in there for the next time we open it and YEAH!! they are gone.

You can also move to a ghetto house and make them have to chose what they keep because there simply isn't enough room--its them or the stuffed animals. I have yet to have a kid who wants to be thrown out instead of the toys.

Andrea said...

Since my kids were little I have always made it a point to go through my kids' toys, with them helping, a few times a year(around birthdays, Christmas, Easter when they're getting new toys).
1. They are less defiant because I let them make choices on what they keep and what they get rid of(hold 2 animals, one in each hand. Pick one to keep and one to get rid of). I set the parameters of how many/how much we keep.
2. While we go through the toys we talk about all the kids that don't have toys of their own and how we can give them our old toys to play with.

Also, there's a great show on BBC America "How Clean is your House?". We watch that and I explain that if we keep everything because we like it our house will end up like the ones on the show. That freaks them out! =D

HM said...

I'm trying to remember what I did with C&B. I seem to recall something along the lines of when they got new toys, some of the old ones had to go, partly to make room but mostly to give to other kids who didn't get as much as they did. They chose and I don't recall any major battles over it, either, but hey, I'm old and I might be misremembering!

Seriously, I'd institute a rule that when they come home with something new, they have to give up at least one old thing. I'd place a number limit on the stuffed animals they can have and make them decide on which ones go to charity. I'd talk to them about how the kids getting the donated things will be thrilled (just like they are thrilled when they get a new toy) and then start a regular "donation day" when everyone picks one or two toys they haven't played with in a couple of months and sends it off to make other kids happy. And have them take turns over who gets to put it in the donation bin and make a fuss over him or her that day (special meal, don't have to do a chore), because they made someone else happy.

I have to be honest, as tempting as it is to throw them out when they aren't home, it comes back to bite you. They remember stuff like that for YEARS and 16 years later, boy they tell you about it!

Chelsea and Manuel said...

I think you should have "flagged" that car down from South Carolina and donated your stash to their back window, they don't really need to see out their back window for anything anyways.;)

Each of my kids have 1 or 2 that they play with or sleep with, other than that I take the "outcasts" and hide them for a while. Sometimes they ask about them but it is usually the "out of sight- out of mind" principle. After I know they've forgotten about them I take them to the thrift store before I pick them up from school!
Good Luck!

Robin said...

WHAT? You actually get RID of toys??? SHESH! I've been doing it all wrong!


Seriously, I just wait until they are gone to school and out they go! They NEVER miss them!

Robin
http://alabamaslackermama.blogspot.com/

JenniferB said...

I have them go through their things and create their own donation bag -- things they know they are sharing with people who don't have as much as they do. We have a box of kleenex on hand because there are always tears and bargains being made, but usually we still end up with a few things at a time to donate.

Anita said...

I'm mean! When my children were younger, once or twice a year we would clean out toys and stuffed animals, a good time was just before Christmas. The kids would help me and we'd haul them off to the sharing center. I'd tell them that some other children would love those toys and anamials stuffed into the back of our closets, ,now unloved and unplayed with. It always worked!

~~Missy~~ said...

I wish I knew how to get rid of those silly things. I HATE all the stuffed animals we have. It seems like they tend to multiply like rabbits.

Julie said...

I feel obligated to mention that if your daughter should mention the word "Webkins", you should be prepared for a swift and immediate reaction to keep those things clear of your house. It's an infestation of critters on a whole new level.

Chuck said...

We have a rule of a toy comes in, a toy needs to go to the DI. They choose which toys go, but they must go. I have not had a problem. My two kids are 8 and 5. They have done really well with this.

amanda said...

i actually involve my kiddos in it. we go through all of their toys once every couple of months and give some to kids who need it. my daughter has given away baby dolls!! it's cool to show them to give to others and it cleans out the oodles of toys they have!!

Karen said...

Oh, so close, you almost made it!
We do a major cleanout at least twice a year, before Christmas and birthdays. And I actually let the girls decide, keep, donate or hand down. I've found if given the choice they will let go of toys. Not always the ones I think they should, but less junk is still the final outcome.

Anonymous said...

I know this sounds labor intensive, but you can donate them to the kids in Iraq. UPS will give you free boxes and shipping. Here is an article explaining it.

http://www.lift-magazine.com/journal/helping-holidays-how-to-donate-your-stuffed-toys-to-children.html

Heidicindy

Ethan, Zach, and Emma's Mom said...

Do they like new toys? Do they like money? Do they want money to spend on new toys? Have them garage sale them! They can have a garage sale, invite their friends, and their friends' moms can then deal with the animals!

Jodee Leader said...

We let our kids keep their favorite stuffed animals (apx. 5 each) and we took the rest to our local fire station. They give them to kids when they lose their homes to fire.

Crystal said...

Certainly not when they are in the car with me! When they're in bed at night and have left them lying all over the house, or they are outside in the backyard playing. Then you put them in the trunk of your husband's car and he takes them on his way to work.

LOL. I love your blog.

Michal said...

i regularly pack up toys (when they aren't around) that i suspect haven't been played with in ages and put them in the garage for a while. if no one misses them after a month or so, off to DI they go. occasionally (but rarely) i have to sneak out to the garage and look for the one thing that will make their lives complete if they could only figure out where they put it . . .

fidget said...

When they are sleeping and the only real way to go is a big fluffy bonfire

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Lucky for me, an apartment building in my town burned down right before Christmas (I'm KIDDING about the lucky part), so we donated all ours to the children who lost everything. It worked quite nicely and my kids were proud of themselves.

That Girl in Brazil said...

Sometimes (blush!) I give them away as soon as my kids open them. No attachment time, you see.

Because *I* never by them the dang things!

Maree said...

WOW, lots of comments! We've moved twice recently, and it's amazing what goes missing when one moves. BOXES work better than bags--kids aren't as interested in them. The rule of "when you get new, you give old" works too--then they have control over what gets given. Somehow, giving to less fortunate kids helps them with the giving (not my daughter though). Last "trick" I use is that when I'm in doubt, I box it and wait 3 months. If it has not been asked for in that time period, it goes away--as if by magic. Making the Salvation Army dump without the kids along is crucial though.

Deb C. said...

I weed out stuff that I notice they aren't playing with. I leave the ignored play-things in a bag in my closet for a few months. If they aren't requested by either child, I take them to Goodwill and nobody seems to notice!

-Jen said...

I don't know how to do it, but when you find out, let me know!

Mrs H. said...

the "stuffed animal" fairy comes to get them (while the kids were asleep!)...found this fairy was also known as the "hair fairy" when my youngest was young...he had long hair and we'd, errr, I mean the "hair fairy" would visit while my son slept in my husband's arms, leaning on his chest...not always equal, but at least it got cut!

Reese said...

Um, BLACK garbage bags. What they don't know won't hurt them.

Twinlinebackers said...

Well, if you're anything like my neighbor, you offer them to my 5 year olds. I think I'm going to offer her my dirty dishwater.

Kislak Mobile Notary said...

I suggest getting two labs to take care of your stuffed animal dilemma. The dogs will steal them from your kids room and rip them to shreds. Problem solved.

But now you might have another problem of batting and shredded fabric all over the house that needs picked up.
Not to mention angry and teary eyed kids.

AverageMom said...

When they aren't looking. And slowly! One animal at a time finds it's way to the Big Sack. I find that the days after Christmas are especially good for this, since there will be piles of stuff going into the garbage bags, and the Terrors are distracted by all the New! Shiny! that Santa dropped off.

becca said...

so funny!! I just box or bag them up and hide them in the house until someone discovers them later. Or I claim the dog peed on them and have to throw them out...

I thought of this post yesterday as I sat a red light with a slick red cadilac in front of me, old school style, like the one in Adventures In Babysitting, and the back window had a lovely wedding bouquet displayed. Nice.

Twinmomwv said...

I like to put them in a black garbage bag when they're either at Grandma's house or sleeping. I then make a trip to Goodwill, letting them see the unwanted kitchen utensils also making the trip. Or have another mom drop it off for me. I hate stuffed animals!!! I think kids should be given an allowance of one at birth and be cut off after that.

Emily Wooton said...

How do yopu throw away your kids stuffed animals? I am a thirty six year that is trying to do the same with my stuffed animals and I never make it to the trash can. Can you tell me how I can justify wanting to throw away my thirty year ols pound puppy stuffed dog that is torn,resewn and is so dirty from not washing it so that I can justify it becoming trash. I suck my thumb with it all day and I sleep with it and I like to suck on his ears ans smell them.
Thanks,

Emily Wooton
emailme at wootonemily@Hotmail.Com with your comments please.

Oleah said...

Ok. Here is the deal. My child is an only child, by default. She has so many stuffed animals and we have been the rounds. She always uses her allowance to buy more stuffed animals--teeny ones. I have the Ikea net thing in her closet. I really WANT to be a bad mom and get rid of half of them. She is not like other children and not miss them. When we pulled them out after moving, she named everyone of them. What's more is half of them are attached to two or three others in a family. How could I break up a family? I have pulled the "poor kids who don't have any toys" and "How about giving one to little cousin Cora?" Not a chance! It drives me insane. Any helpful suggestions would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

What you do is chop their heads off in the night and then tell the kid it has to be thrown away