Tossing the Toys.

What child doesn’t care about their toys? Mine, apparently. E is my very strong-willed child and we are constantly reading, praying and trying new methods of discipline to find what works. Most recently, we’ve found that taking away things and having her earn them back (with good behavior) is proving effective. That is, unless we threaten to take away her toys. When we said we were going to take them away, she didn’t even flinch. And this girl has a lot of toys.

She doesn’t care about the bright-colored, music-playing, flashing-lighted, battery-powered collection of plastic that has overrun a solid half of our home.

Not even the worst of it. Yes, it gets much worse than this.

Part of the downside to bunching our kids is that we’ve ended up with every toy made from here to China for ages birth-preschooler under our roof. We have rattles and shakey-vibrating-pull-string-elephants to stamps and magnetic dress-up dolls with every stage in between. Stuffed animals! Plastic animals! Wooden animals! And all the mismatched plastic pieces that have made their way into our home from birthday party goodie bags and the tantrum-canceling check-out line purchase at Target (don’t judge; you’ve caved too).

And I hate cheap, plastic, and chintzy things. Toys, specifically.

So E could care less about her toys tossed across the floor and I’m irritated they have even made their way inside. Why am I spending so much time each day bent over, feeling my heart beat in my ears while picking up plastic, moo-ing books? All these sound-making take-and-toss toys that she doesn’t even really like?

It’s time for a toy overhaul.

I want the girls to have simple, sturdy toys with minimal pizzazz. I want toys that provide a vehicle for play – not dictates it. I want toys for them to play with, not be entertained by.

The longer I parent, the more I realize how distracting the colors, sounds and flashing lights of popular toys can be. When E was a baby, I didn’t think much about a toy book (side note: when did someone decide that a book wasn’t exciting enough and that it needed music, lights and animal sounds to be fun?) that sang the colors while pulsing the corresponding lights. Did I actually think this bombardment would help her learn? I suppose.

I’m not insinuating that these types of toys are necessarily harmful but when they are being overwhelmed with noise and lights and movement from every side, it’s no wonder they flutter from toy to toy without focusing their attention on one item and really investigating and using their imagination. It is sensory overload.

And researchers agree.

As quoted in this article

“Roberta Golinkoff, head of the Infant Language Project at the University of Delaware says, ‘Electronic educational toys boast brain development and that they are going to give your child a head start. But developmental psychologists know that it doesn’t really work this way. The toy manufacturers are playing on parents’ fears that our children will be left behind in this global marketplace…kids are not like empty vessels to be filled. If they
play with toys that allow them to be explorers, they are more likely to learn important lessons about how to master their world.’

E has never been great at independent play. I don’t expect different toys to change her personality but I do hope she can learn to be confidant in her imagination and find joy in playing without Momma providing the momentum.

It has taken us three years to accumulate our current stash of toys so I don’t expect for this to be an overnight transition. Plus, as with anything of good quality, it can be expensive. So I’m doing my research and creating a wishlist. Birthdays and present-giving holidays are around every corner so I doubt the girls will be wanting for anything soon.

And not everything needs to go. The girls have some basic toys that they actually DO play with. We have some great wooden building blocks that both B and E l-o-v-e. I bought them from another young family in the neighborhood for amazingly cheap and we play with them every day. We build robots and castles and ramps and more robots. And B thinks they taste pretty good, too

Our happy wooden-block family. Hubs may have helped build these ones.

The girls have a pretty impressive collection of paints, markers and stamps. You all know my love for craft time. But the girls do enjoy it. B is still a bit young to fully grasp artistic expression but she does love the taste of some finger paint (purple is her favorite).

B’s current obsession is our alphabet blocks. They came in a canvas bag and taking them out, putting them in and taking them out again can keep her busy for 15 minutes which is forever in 14-month-old-land.

A block! So proud. And, check out that sweet walking toy in the background.

So, here’s my preliminary wish list of classic, minimal toys:

– I really, really want to splurge and get a Waldorf wooden balance board. E may be slightly on the older side and B a bit on the younger but I think they both would find loads of fun with it. Mama Natural has a great video on it that had me sold.

Not my kid. Image via BellaLunaToys

– Dress up clothes. Not just princess dresses but capes, cowboy hats and doctor’s scrubs.

– A classic bead maze. Simple, right?

Image via Target

– How fun are these face paints? This could also be my worst nightmare come true but let’s think positive, people!

image via BellaLunaToys

Up next: Wading through the plastic, battery-powered wasteland.

What are your favorite, simple toys?

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6 thoughts on “Tossing the Toys.

  1. I TOTALLY agree with this entire post. As we move I’m tossing SO much and I seriously doubt my kids will even realize it. Styles did have a few crazy toys but for the most part, he played with cars and balls when he was younger. I’ve been blessed that Styles & Madilyn are both great at independent play and they have fantastic imaginations. Grady loves his mama but he is pretty good at independent play too, just not as good as the other two.

    If you can’t stomach throwing the toys away, Get a bin or two and stash lots of them way. Every 2 months or so, recycle the toys out so that it’s exciting and new. I find that most children get overwhelmed when they have too much and it’s better to have less, that way they can hone in on a toy or two that they really enjoy instead of flitting from toy to toy that they just kind of like. Good luck with your toy toss!

    • That is a great idea. Josh would have a fit if i actually threw any big things away, anyway 🙂 I’m tossing the dumb plastic knickknack-y stuff but the big stuff really could be fun if they aren’t overwhelmed by it, you know?

      B is a much, much better independent player. I’m hoping as she continues to grow that E will begin enjoy playing with her more and more. Right now, “playing” involves stealing B’s toy and then placing her in a headlock. How do your younger two play together?

  2. i LOVE those lyra face paints. we have regular lyra colored pencils which miles loves to use. rowan has that same walker thing, he just got for his birthday.

    I find that any toy that is the “real” thing is what they like best. Real cooking utensils. Real (and expensive but worth it) water colors. Real tools. I am a cheapskate at heart so I rarely buy anything. And when holidays and birthdays roll around… I am that mom and special request no plastic, no china. I feel awful doing it for the most part, but after the first few times everyone is use to it and its no big deal. You would be surprised at the cool stuff people come up with!

  3. my favorite toys as a kid were big oversized legos for fort making and waffle blocks.. I loved my play kitchen and food accessories and puzzles were always a hit. I’m with you, when I have kids I want simplicity as much as possible. Fun and educational, but simple. No need to feel like I need stock in Fisher Price…

  4. Yep, I discovered this about a year ago. On the rare occasion we eat out, we avoid the kids’ meals unless it’s a special treat. On Sundays after church when we usually eat out, we go to Lion’s Choice where instead of a toy they get 2 sides, and we get the applesauce and yogurt!. We don’t pick up junky toys while at the store, but occasionally treat the kids with a tiny piece of candy which they think is awesome. They’ve learned they get toys on their birthdays and at Christmas, and we try to plan something big to get with both sets of grandparents. And when we go to other kid’s birthday parties, we try to gift something like fun bubbles or art projects that won’t clutter the home with junky toys. I’ve also gotten handy at making fun hair clips for the girls…I need to figure out a great homemade boy gift!

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