How to stop kids whining

This is a note I’m sending out to friends and family….it something that this last year, with 5 kids birthdays, Christmas, Easter and a bazillion little gift holidays, has made abundantly clear. We are facing a stuff epidemic that is feeding into a disturbing and growing sense of entitlement and child-run homes. By “we” I’m referring to our family and, according to this New Yorker article, US society in general. I’m asking for help. We are going to “vaccinate” our family with a moratorium on stuff, and the Experiment from this book, Cleaning House by Kay Wyma. Read about our Experiment here.

Photo Credit:

Hi all,

I apologize for this mass messaging, but needed to share something really really important regarding the kids and, in all honestly, our family.

In case you lost count, we have 5 kids.

That’s a lot (as folks frequently mention) of little people. Each arrival has brought increasing amounts of “stuff” into our house. Then consider birthday, Christmas, holidays that marketers have turned into “stuff” bonanzas and you can understand how the shelves, cupboards, baskets and bins in our home are overflowing.

Sadly, the gifts, doo-dads and souvenirs you have lovingly and thoughtfully brought our children are, more often than not, broken, lost,  or cast aside because there are just so many other “things” for them to burn through.

I’m so sorry – I don’t want to hurt your feelings or for you to think the kids don’t love you or that Ed and I don’t appreciate your generosity and thoughtfulness. They do and we do. However, I can say – and again, please don’t take this the wrong way, I can say that the kiddos do not appreciate what they are being given.  Yes, they say “please” and “thank you” (or at least they better be) but let me be clear, actions are louder than words and their actions are most certainly not saying “thank you.”

We are so fortunate to be able to provide them with everything they NEED. But their concept of need and appreciation and want are sorely out of wack and I ask you for help – you are our village – and I need your help. Please help us by not spending your money; rather offer your wisdom, your companionship, your time.



Because they have. So. Darn. Much.


So, if you are still speaking to me after reading this, I want to ask for your help.

Please don’t buy my kids presents;  not for their birthdays, Christmas, not from the gift shop you pass when you’re out with them or the cute little “thing” you see that you are sure they will just love.

Please don’t bid on that eBay auction or spend that .50 cents or 50 dollars on that amazing find at a thrift store or yard sale.

Our kids are blessed by the people who love them, not the physical gifts you offer. They love you, not the gift bag in your hand. Help them remember that.

Give them the gift of you; for birthdays and Christmas and the 12 million Hallmark holidays that are out there, please write a note expressing your love or acknowledging some real accomplishment. Or, if you are so inclined, take them on an outing – a bike ride, a movie, to the playground or the zoo – just the two of you.  Those will be the memories Gwen, Harry, Ben, Jane and Maisie cling to as they grow.

I know its hard to walk by the perfect gift or “surprise” – I struggle too. I’ll be going on the stuff diet right along with you. But fighting this fight is worth it -so worth it.

If you slip up, or disagree with this altogether, I’ll understand. Just be forewarned that there will be regular drop offs to goodwill in our future and that perfect gift may very well be in that bag.

Your (buried alive in toys) friend/sister/daughter,



ps. This is the book I referred to earlier. Read it one day and we will be and Experiment family as of July 1st.

Photo credit: freelance homeschool mom



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Quick Tips: The Whining Monster!

August 19, 2010

My kids never whine. Really. Well, at least that’s true in my dreams; the rest of the time, I wear ear plugs.  Bad joke, but it a tempting thought.  The real truth? This is how we handle the special beast known as the “Whining Monster.” For a few other interesting tips on toddlers, tantrums and whining, check out this […]

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