Letting Go Of The Stuffed Animal Years

January 7, 2013 in Parenting

A few stuffed animals from my childhood

A friend of mine recently asked me what I did with all the stuffed animals that my two older boys had when they were younger.

“I still have them?” I answered, half-questioning why she would be asking me this.  Her son was the same age as one of my boys – a 7th grader.

She explained her query to me: “Well, it’s not like he wants them or cares about them anymore, but I don’t know what to do with them. I can’t just get rid of them. If my son were a daughter, it would be easier. She would either still want them or wouldn’t care if I kept them hanging around her room until she went to college. But, with boys, it’s a whole different story.”

I knew exactly what she meant.

I was a stuffed animal fanatic as a little girl. I collected tons of them and they stayed in my room, closet, bed, floor, beanbag chair, until I went to college. And when I went to college, they remained in my bedroom in my parent’s house, although a bunch were stored in closets, too.  My mom asked me one time, and only one time, what she should do with the stuffed animals.

“You must keep them! I shrieked. “You can’t throw them out!”

“I won’t, I promise, but some day you will have to figure out what to do with all these stuffed animals. I need the closet space.”

My mom kept her promise for many, many years.

I bounced around from different jobs, cities, apartments and it wasn’t until I got married at the age of 29 and moved into a semi-permanent home with my new husband that she got up the nerve to ask me about the stuffed animals again.

I finally relented and told her I would come to their place and pick out the stuffed animals I couldn’t part with and perhaps someday pass down to my own children. I ended up holding on to five of the animals – a lion, giraffe, dog, gorilla, and cat. I couldn’t leave those five behind – they had too much meaning for me, though I wasn’t sure what that meaning was. I just knew that when I looked at those five animals, I still had to have them.

And I still do. I’ve added to those five animals, as I’ve given my three boys lots of stuffed animals over the past 15 years. My oldest is a freshman in high school and he still has a few build-a-bears perched in the corner of his room. He doesn’t seem to care (or notice) so I leave them there. My middle schooler has a huge mound of stuffed animals on a chair in his room. He too doesn’t seem to care. My youngest at 9, has his collection too, which is perfectly respectable at his age.

I’m waiting for one or all of them to suddenly notice and demand that I remove all stuffed animals from their rooms because it looks too “baby-ish.” That will be a sad day for me. Because, like my friend wondered, I won’t know what to do with them. What’s more, I know it will signal the end of an era. It reminded me of saying good-bye to my baby-making years. I stashed my maternity clothes in the back of my closet for years even though I was 99% sure I wasn’t having any more children. Still, I couldn’t donate them for a long time. I knew once I did, I’d be admitting that I was done having babies. And that was really hard for me. When I finally bag up all the stuffed animals in our house, I know once again I’ll be letting go of another phase of my life. Although…maybe I’ll hold on to just some of the animals…besides, what’s a few more? I’ve got the closet space.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie Chisnall January 7, 2013 at 8:35 am

I still have my carebear and some other stuffed animals I refuse to let go of in the garage. No space in the house. I got Bedtime bear when I was six, so she’s 24 years old and I’m not prepared to let her go. I know I should think of letting some of them go, but then I just say that I’m keeping them for my children – which is a good enough excuse! So glad to hear I’m not the only one. I think if they are sentimental, you should keep them. Provided there aren’t dozens and dozens! 😉


ohboymom January 7, 2013 at 8:52 am

Well, there are dozens and dozens of them, but you’re right, I’m going to keep the sentimental ones. And good for you for still having yours too!


Janine Huldie January 7, 2013 at 9:00 am

Somewhere in my parents attic is still a ton of my stuffed animals and my girls are already totally on there way with the their stuffed animal collection. but I get what you mean about being sad when they may have to go, because I can tell you know event hough we are sure we are done, I still can’t part with their newborn infant clothes and still have my maternity clothes in a bin. Hard to let go I suppose and completely get it and can relate. Voted for you on Top Mommy Blogs, too :)


ohboymom January 7, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I still have a lot of my boys’ newborn/infant clothes too! Someone once told me to just pick a few special items of clothing you don’t want to give away and to donate the rest…I’ve done that with 2T and up, but those baby clothes…so hard. Thanks for the vote too — appreciate it!


Rachel Harper January 7, 2013 at 10:57 am

Geh, I know what you mean about stuffed animals. I can’t seem to part with them, but I have no use for them either. Even though I’m 28, they still have a soft spot in my heart.


ohboymom January 7, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Those feelings of not wanting to part with them probably won’t change when you’re 40+ either (like me).


nothingbythebook January 7, 2013 at 11:03 am

I still have my two or three favourite stuffies… so does dh. We’ve bequeath them to the kids now, of course, but we never let them go…


ohboymom January 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm

That’s sweet…I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who couldn’t part with her childhood stuffed animals.


Julie DeNeen January 7, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Sigh. I have such a love/hate relationship with stuffed animals. I love the high quality ones. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Except then I hate them because they take over our entire damn house! I have no idea what’s going to happen when my kids outgrow them. :(


ohboymom January 7, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Maybe we should start a stuffed animal museum for the animals that don’t fit in our houses anymore…


MamaMarmalade January 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm

I’m a bit brutal I’m afraid. With four kids living in a central London house we have no room so as soon as the kids lose interest I get rid of them, all except their absolute favourites. Bit harsh aren/t I?!


ohboymom January 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm

No you are not harsh…you are smart! :)


Amy January 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Voted for you! And I love this post. I recently had my oldest go through her collection of animals and decided what to keep and what to give away…and what to put in the attic because she wasn’t ready to decide! It is different with boys I guess. :)


ohboymom January 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm

It’s so hard to part with those animals so I understand your daughter’s indecision…thank you for the vote too!


Stephanie @ Mommy, for real. January 7, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Great post! We must have been similar as kids, because I too stock-piled stuffed animals (and Cabbage Patch Kids for that matter) and my mom kept them in my room until recently. She forced me to take some to my own house, but still as a collection in my old bedroom, and I LOVE to see my own daughters play with them when we visit! I understand how you feel- those transitions or always so bittersweet- admitting that an era of life is ending.


ohboymom January 7, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I agree, when my boys were younger and I had given them some of my old stuffed animals to play with, they got such a kick out of it…it’s fun to pass them down.


Cyndi January 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I have LOTS of stuffed animals still. They’ve come with me all over the country and I’ve been married 11 years, lol. They’re just those sentimental things I just can’t part with. One if a 3-foot tall mouse my dad got for me the day I was born. I CAN’T get rid of him. Others have similar significance for me. I hear where you’re coming from for sure.


ohboymom January 7, 2013 at 8:18 pm

I completely understand you holding on to that mouse — never get rid of him. I also have a 4 foot high Elmo that I once won at a carnival…I was so proud of myself (no one ever wins those giant stuffed animals, right?) that I’m taking Elmo to the old age home with me.


Roshni January 7, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I know what you mean about stuffed toys and boys!! I wrote about it a while back and thought the same thing; it’s much easier for girls! Here’s the URL in case you’re interested: http://www.bigaandlittlea.com/2012/10/co-sleeping-at-eight.html


ohboymom January 7, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Just read it (you must have published that before I started following your blog but I love how we wrote about the same subject!) Loved your post and also left a comment.


aunt mary January 8, 2013 at 5:14 am



ohboymom January 8, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Yes and girls don’t carry the stigma of the stuffed animals making them look like “babies.” Thanks for commenting!


Kristi January 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I could really relate to this post. Not only do I have some of my stuffed animals from when I was a kid (more than five, so you’re doing great), over the holidays, my dad and I went to his storage unit. I was THRILLED to discover my Humpty Dumpty stuffed animal and packed that sucker in my suitcase! Oh, and I may have packed a few Raggedy Anne dolls, too. Maybe.
My three-year old asks for “Beaw” (bear’s official name) every time he sleeps. I can tell you now that I’ll never part with Beaw, ever. And it’s going to be really hard to get rid of the adorable frog that my kid doesn’t seem to care about but that I adore, too. Sigh…
Love this post. Oh how many reminders that we’re “done” there are. All sad.


ohboymom January 8, 2013 at 6:59 pm

It’s funny because I was over at my parents’ house today and mentioned my post to them and my mom told me she still had some of my stuffed animals…I had no idea she still had them and I to was both thrilled and relieved. :)


LeaAnn October 11, 2015 at 6:51 pm

I’m having a similar dilemma. Cognitively, I get that it’s her room and she’s transitioning to her older teens and independence. But in the less logical, emotional part of myself, it hurts to let the memories of them go. I read somewhere about taking pictures and making it part of a childhood album. Think I’ll try that.


ohboymom October 11, 2015 at 7:34 pm

That’s actually a great idea to take pictures of the stuffed animals…definitely do it!


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