When it comes to toys I am perhaps a little too pedantic. My approach is very much: less is more. This has led to a lot of conflicts with toys we receive as presents of course. I have a very unapologetic list of “do not enter my home items”. Toys that are made out of plastic. Toys that are not sustainable. Toys that are gendered. Do not even get me started on dolls or Barbie’s. Toys that make noise for no reason. Any toys that resemble weapons. Toys that have no learning effect. Toys that are plain ugly. You get the point, right? I am a nightmare for well-meaning family members that just wanted to gift something nice to my children. I am forever feeling guilty for being ungrateful. Perhaps, I am also not the most diplomatic person when it comes to my children. Who is though?
So let me explain myself: I think it is my provocative as a parent to choose their toys. Disclaimer: this is my opinion and by no means the right way for everyone.
Choosing the right toys is a huge part of development:
Quality goes over quantity! Yes, this is my mantra! Children especially toddlers (well at least mine) find it difficult to concentrate on one toy when there is a plethora of choice. Sitting down and playing is a skill that needs to be acquired. For the first year really only a few items will suffice (see our play wishes box) and sometimes baking paper, ribbons or a wooden spoon are the favourite anyways. With my second baby I am actually reducing rather than acquiring more. With a toddler the choice becomes utterly overwhelming. But I would rather my daughter plays outside and with other children. This way I want to support her creativity, social and physical development. I also try and often miserably fail to interest and involve my toddler in day to day activities such as cooking, cleaning and doing the washing up. I do however love toys that teach her certain skills like building blocks, books or puzzles.
I simply do not want that much stuff in my apartment:
I do not think this is a dogma for everyone but a personal choice for our family home. I have to admit I also do not want to live in an apartment that is entirely geared towards my children. I think it is okay that us adults also live here and want to feel comfortable. For me that does mean no mountains of colourful toys.
I want me and my children to live consciously:
I am passionate about sustainability and where possible would like to leave my children with a planet that is still liveable. Every little bit counts, so I definitely prefer wooden toys. They are nicer to the touch and more durable. If it has to be plastic I try and choose consciously.
You have to remain flexible:
Sometimes the fanatic in me just had to give into the fact that the rattle that I hated because it was cheap plastic, is actually my baby’s favourite and the most stylish toy is just utterly impractical. My approach had always included, that we will spend a lot of time outside or socialising and of course the blessing of day care. With Corona this has been slightly disrupted. So I found myself frantically searching teacher and kindergarten supply websites trying to fill the void in my daughter’s room. So here I ordered finger paints, books, vocabulary training cards and yes plastic glow in the dark balls. A friend of mine quipped: “the world must be ending, if those are entering your household”.