The Reason I Finally Gave My Kids a Toy Limit

It’s only been a few weeks since Christmas, and my house is being overtaken by toys — toys still in their boxes, rogue toy parts sprawled over my floors, and toys overflowing from the bins and baskets that seemed ample just a month ago. And this cluttered, overloaded state, my fellow moms, is exactly why I gave my kids a toy limit this holiday season.

Sometime in early December, I decided that three gifts (all toys because, let’s face it, it’s not really a gift to a kid unless they can play with it) was the perfect number of presents my kids should receive. I was so self-satisfied with the decision, thinking that I’d happened upon a magic formula that would both keep them Santa-satisfied and please my constant need for a tidy home not littered with tiny, sharp toy parts just waiting for someone to step on with a vulnerable bare foot.

It took every ounce of self-control not to let out the “Are you f*cking kidding me?!” that felt like the only reasonable response.

In the end, however, I realized that the exact right number of toys to give my kids should have been zero. It’s not that they were particularly naughty this year; it’s just that my plan didn’t take into account the dozens of gifts they’d be receiving from my in-laws, my parents, their aunts and uncles, their teachers, and their favorite babysitter. Those gifts? They had already stolen my/Santa’s thunder.

The WowWee Fingerlings I ordered for both of my kids in October from a third-party seller on Amazon that never showed up (I’m guessing the seller realized she could offload them for more than $15 somewhere else) that I then repurchased on eBay for $25 each? My kids got one from their uncle long before Santa’s sleigh was ever loaded. Needless to say, my smile at their excitement was more of a grimace.

And the $70 L.O.L. Surprise! Big Surprise I was so thrilled to score when I happened to catch an Amazon restock? I didn’t realize my mother-in-law had purchased one an intrepid salesperson at her local Toys”R”Us found hiding out on the wrong shelf. When my daughter opened it on Dec. 18 at our family’s gift exchange, I figured she’d probably be excited to have two because the whole point of L.O.L Surprise! dolls is you never know what you’re going to get, right?

“You know, honey, you asked Santa for that, too, so you might get to unwrap 50 different surprises!” I said, setting her up not to be disappointed. “No, Mom, all the big ones have the same things in them,” she corrected me, citing the many YouTube videos she’d watched about them. It took every ounce of self-control in my holiday-overloaded body not to let out the “Are you f*cking kidding me?!” that felt like the only reasonable response.

The Hatchimal Surprises I got both of my kids were also a disappointment, quickly abandoned after they emerged from their eggs, bringing my grand total of wasted Christmas toy money to somewhere around $250. The only toy that landed was the Imaginext Eagle Talon Castle I bought my almost 4-year-old son on eBay. At three-feet long and accompanied by a huge ogre, dragon, and countless tiny knights, animals, and accessories, it has now become the major decorative element of my family room.

Next year I think I’ll get my kids stocks and bonds. They’ll probably be cheaper, and I won’t have to worry about stepping on them for the rest of the year. I’ve learned my lesson: the toys can come from everyone else.

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