If you’re interested in Minimalism and other bloggers/writers check out this piece in Wandr’y magazine profiling a half dozen people that have made the move to less. Interesting to see how a lot of us writing about living with less were inspired by each other. Chris, Henry and I get a little shout out in there too.
Have you ever had a desire to just throw all the toys away?
Maybe it came when you were moving house and boxed up the third round of stuffed animals that sit on shelves, looked at but not loved.
Or perhaps you had a painful run in with a small piece of Lego in the early morning.
Or, for the 873rd time, you picked up all the toys in the living room and dumped them back in the kid’s rooms.
You can do it. You can get rid of all the toys and guess what? It might actually be better for your kids.
It’s estimated that parents will spend roughly $15,000 on toys and electronics for each child. Yikes. I can hear parents ripping their kid’s holiday gift list in half right now.
Even more motivating: we can spend less than the cost of two very fancy coffees to keep our children entertained, engaged and help them develop play based skills.
The ‘pocket playground’ is $10 worth of materials and toys that can supposedly replace all the iPad games, Polly Pockets and Playmobil sets. It contains eight low cost items like coloured pencils, embroidery thread and Plasticine beads and can be adapted for 50 activities.
The simple toys in the pocket playground support exploratory play and develop problem-solving skills, spatial awareness, dexterity and creativity – something modern toys and screen based activities aren’t doing.
You can read an article about the study here.
Growing up without a lot of money and not a lot of toys was great for my imagination.
My sisters and I had a little doll clothing store made from things we found around the house. The front counter was an After Eights Mints box. My older sister sewed little garments by hand and we used empty After Eight Mint sleeves as the store bags.
When I think back to my childhood the best fun and games were never attached to a toy or something bought at the store. Our fun was based on make believe or around a neighborhood wide game of Becker Becker (similar to hide and seek). We climbed a lot of trees and built a lot of indoor forts out of chairs and blankets.
Is going toy-less practical for most of us?
While I enjoyed reading about this mom’s experience of a week with no modern toys and screens, and I may even give our home a brief toy sabbatical in the future, I can’t see us down-sizing to the pocket playground long term.
Our train set gets a lot of use and after a week away from it our son was asking about his trains. It gives us hours of fun play each week. A lot of that play is independent which helps me get a few things done around the house. Looking forward to that time even more when we have a new baby in the house.
Also, from comments here on the blog and in discussion with parents of older children, I know we’re at an easy age to have fewer toys at home. Our son isn’t asking for the toys his friends have yet or comparing what he has to what other children have. Sigh. Ignorance is bliss.
Going toy-less and screen-less with older children would be a huge challenge if they attend school outside the home or socialize with other children that have modern toys.
While I think the pocket playground is great, I know it’s an almost impossible feat to get rid of all the toys for most families.
Practical ways to use the pocket playground or go toy-less:
There are some moderate ways to use the pocket playground or toy-less time to reduce toy clutter and foster more imaginative play.
- Travel: before our next trans-Atlantic flight I’m going to put together a pocket playground to take on the road. It’s small, inexpensive and would be great for long flights. Also a nice idea for when you’re away from home for an extended period of time.
- Toy-Free Days or Weeks: replace some or all of your toys with the pocket playground for a short period of time. I’m imagining all the reasons you can give your four year-old for why their toys need a rest…
- Use More Household Items for Play: Henry did a great job turning just about anything, like a fork, cup or a sugar packet at a coffee shop, into a train track or a train when we were on holiday. It was a good reminder to allow him to explore our kitchen cupboards and other areas of our home for non-toys that are safe to use for play.
Has anyone tried a toy-sabbatical or reduced the toy collection and focused on more play with household items? How did your children adapt to fewer toys? Did it take them long to start playing with household items?