Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Toys are from the Devil: Less is More

 Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration. I did, however, come across some very interesting research that supports parents limiting the darn things.

"What?! Less toys?!" says a flabbergasted bystander. "Won't you damage your child's childhood?"

To which I answer, not in the least. Ezra's favorite toys thus far include: my blow dryer cord, his attachable jogging stroller snack pack bar, water bottles, and all things shiny, or noisy. 

He has stuffed animals, puppets, wooden blocks & cars & a few other toys but, so far, it's manageable.  

Two of my favorite Baby E toys!

I believe as parents we too often limit our children's ability to create and explore when we stuff a fancy schmancy toy in their hands. It already lights up, makes noise, and sings- there is little joy in the discovery & manipulation of a toy like that.

I recently read two different articles that convinced me to take a more old-fashioned approach to the subject of toys. The first focused on how more basic toys, like stacking cups, balls, blocks, shape sorters, and telephones, are the best for developing speech and language development.

Isn't that strange? All we ever hear is about how wonderful educational toys, like the leapster, are going to help with our child's development, when it's really the basic, more mundane toys that will do the job!

The second article focused on one mom's tift with plastic toys.

 (Side note: Plastic toys are manufactured in factories where they are drenched in unsafe chemicals, like phtalates and BPA.  Besides most plastic toys, baby's teething rings, rubber ducks, and bath books are covered in these chemicals too. Most European countries, and the state of California, have already banned the selling of such toys. BPA is linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, early puberty and obesity in humans. Can you imagine what you are letting your little one(s) put in their mouths?).

 She argues that children love to play with household items, like mixing bowls and spoons, and, of course, boxes, just as much as they love to play with toys.

If we would give up the mentality that more is better, we might find that our children are completely satisfied with a few, well-built toys than a whole slew of easily broken and disposable cheap, plastic toys.

This is a well-built, more expensive wooden toy E got as a gift. He loves it!

TIPS for Reducing the Amount of Toys in Your House

1). Instead of having people bring toys to your child's birthday parties, ask that they bring books (you can never have enough books!), or ask that they make a donation in your child's name to an organization you love. Of course, this may not work for older children, but can work for younger ones!

2). Bring your older children to group homes, or places where there's a need. Ask them to pick out toys they own to share with a child who may not have as many toys.  If they can learn at an early age that materialistic things, though they are nice, do not make our lives richer, than they might be more willing to share what they have with someone else.

3). Rotate your child's toys so they always seem new and exciting. Keep a pile out & put a pile away. Switch them out every so often so they have something new to play and explore with!

4). Let them make fun messes sometimes. Building forts, splashing in water, making mud pies... aren't those the things you remember doing as a child that brought the most joy?

5). Have your child learn to invest in one, quality toy over a bunch of little ones. I remember saving $82 for an American Girl Doll, Kirsten, when I was in first grade. Better believe I valued and loved that doll more than anything else in my toy chest!

Of course, there's no way to completely keep plastic toys out of the house. Your child is bound to have a few in their hold, but better a few than a whole slew.

Besides, what mother doesn't want to tear her hair out when toys take over the house?

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