When does collecting turn into obsession?

Everyone likes to collect things. I think it’s in our hunting/gathering, human nature. My collections sometimes turn into a bit of an obsession. A few of you parents will understand (and probably nod your head) as I explain.

It started off innocently enough. My oldest boy enjoyed the Toy Story series. When he was three, he wanted to be Buzz Lightyear when he grew up. I got him a Buzz action figure, and he clutched onto that thing like there was no tomorrow. His birthday came, and he got a couple more. Pretty soon the Disney Store had a patriotic Buzz Lightyear. Well, I’m patriotic! Sold! Shortly thereafter there was a see through Buzz and what kid wouldn’t want that?! Mini Buzz’s started hitting shelves. Ones that talked, ones that didn’t, ones that you wished wouldn’t. Pretty soon my husband wondered where the boy was as he was surrounded by a mound of Buzz Lightyears. You could say I got a little carried away. I promised not to buy another one, unless something REALLY cool came along.

Fast forward a few years. Our second child was born, and the Disney movie Cars was a hit. They made these adorable die cast cars of the characters. They even had fun ones like Buzz (uh-oh!) and Woody in their Cars form. Well, my son liked these toys and they were only around $4 or $5 each, so it’s not like I’ll get obsessed or anything. They aren’t $40 Buzz Lightyears. They are just little cars. You can guess where this is going.

So 3 months later and I’m stalking the Target deliveries. I HAD TO HAVE the new Hudson Hornet. He was hard to find, and I was going to find him. It became my mission to collect every last one. I even had a friendly contest going with my brother-in-law over who found which car. Oh yes, I’d win this! Until, that is, my husband equated the Cars “collecting” to my obsession with the Buzz Lightyears. He was right. It was no longer about which toys the boys wanted, it was my need to own every last one. For what reason? So I can put on my resume that I had 53 die cast cars? Or 17 Buzz Lightyears?

Sometimes collecting things for kids turns into a competition between parents or even just with yourself. Sometimes collection are marvelous conversation starters, especially when family gathers around on holidays – this is the right time to display your holiday collectibles! Collecting can be fun, but once it goes beyond that, and once the kids don’t care anymore or you are spending more money than you should; it’s time to step back and ask yourself, do I really need this? You all remember the Beanie Baby craze in the late 90’s. I had to stop and tell myself I was not going to be like the women I saw on TV with a house full of Beanie Babies.

My boys and I still collect things, Mighty Beans, DaGeDar balls, Pokémon Cards, etc, but I am no longer getting caught up in the competition of having to have every last one. My kids still get to enjoy having their collections, and I still get to enjoy doing something they love, instead of turning it into an obsession. Win-Win.

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