I am guilty of buying my kids every kind of toy you can think of. The “purely-fun” toy, the “educational” toy, the “old-fashioned-wooden” toy, the “plastic-make-a-ton-of-noise” toy, the “I-know-we-already-have-this-somewhere” toy, the “let’s-just-get-through-the-store-without-any-crying-and-I’ll-buy-you-this” toy, and the “yes, I-got-you-a-book-for-your-birthday. Deal With It!” toy.
For nine years I’ve actually thought to myself, this is the toy they are going to play with and it will be worth the few dollars. And every toy winds up in a closet or under a bed and barely gets played with past day one.
But bring home a empty box or a old mattress and there so much activity and imagination in the house you would think my kids never had anything to play with at all. I’ve “toyed” with the idea of getting rid of all their toys for years, or at least boxing them up and rotating them out as I’ve seen other, more organized and creative parents doing. But all my zeal an excitement go down the drain the moment I look into their playroom and I realize I’ve got better things to do.
But this old mattress has got me thinking; am I truly doing a disservice to my kids with all the toys? I made the first step a few weeks ago to at least confine them to the playroom and take back our living room once and for all. Out of the kindness of my heart I left one lonely truck upstairs for our toddler since he doesn’t always get to go to the playroom without me. I’ve seen him play with that truck like it was his best (and only) friend since then. Scarcity is a rare thing for some kids these days, and while I’m beyond thankful that my husband and I can provide for our family, I’ve found that I’d rather dote on them with experiences and values, than plastic toys. If I could go back, there are so many things I would do differently, and my advice to new parents would be – “the best toys are not toys at all.”
It’ll be hard to undo nine years of toy hoarding for this family, but in this long process I’ll look at these images and remind myself:
“All we really need is an old mattress (and maybe a rubber spatula).”
May the fourth be with you.