Thursday, December 1, 2011

Let's talk toys.

I know I have a mix of stay-at-home and working moms that read here, so I have a question. What is your toy 'strategy'? When we first got ready to have kids, I had this vision that I would have all natural toys, with NO awful sounds or batteries required. I certainly wouldn't have a ton of toys - just the good, basic stuff.

Then I gave birth. And friends and family started buying stuff and giving hand-me-downs. THEN I found out I was pregnant with twins, and therefore wouldn't be able to afford daycare, so I started picking up anything that looked fun, so the kids would have things to play with all day with the nanny. And, of course, I found out just how much babies love LOUD toys. So for about 2 years, our living room had loads of toys and many of them played music or whatever. As the kids have been growing out of them (like this was a big fav as was this) I've been giving them away or storing them for my grandkids.

Since both kids spend all day in daycare, we have a very small window of playtime. At night, they get home at 5, they maybe play for 20 minutes or so while we get dinner ready. The weekends is the only time they REALLY play at home - and if the weather is nice, we are outside as much as possible. I feel like we can have a much smaller amount of toys. I also see that both kids are only playing with a few select toys. They play with the play kitchen, the trains, and blocks. Maggie plays with her dolls and Cam plays with his firetrucks. I decided to just focus on those toys, and get good quality stuff, and throw away the crap. Over the past few days, I've gotten rid of any toys that they never play with or are broken. I threw away some plastic crap play food that I'm going to replace with a few sets of Melissa and Doug play food. Cam has a huge amount of firetruck toys - and many he found at tag sales or older kids have given him - which means that they are broken or missing pieces. I threw those firetrucks away. I'm a little nervous that he is going to freak out when he notices (they are on the curb and today is trash pickup).

What do you all have? Am I making a mistake by severely paring down our toys? I just feel like we have piles and piles of toys, and the kids play with maybe 10% of them. So my theory is to replace them many with a few, high quality things.


Deborah said...

I'd love to hear what others have to say about this! I feel like my toy strategy is all wrong, yet I'm not sure how. We have a large toybox and some ride-on things, plus an area with puzzles. J never wants to play with anything. He watches movies and then when I declare we're done with TV, he complains "what should I play with??" The one thing he really likes is little, cheap figurines. He'll get together Spiderman, Mufasa, Nemo, Cinderella, whoever and make them all fight each other or chase each other around. I don't know how to get him more interested in other stuff.

HereWeGoAJen said...

I spent too many years teaching and totally used up my tolerance for noisy toys. So Elizabeth doesn't have any. (Don't tell the relatives but the ones they gave us have "disappeared" from house.)

I think you will be so happy getting rid of a bunch of stuff.

BigP's Heather said...

I find that every six months or so I thin out crap. Toys seem to accumulate at our house. She only plays with a fraction of them so we have been donating many. The nice toys we have saved in the attic with the clothing she outgrows for future children. But the happy meal toys have got to go.

Zephra said...

Best strategy I have used is to cycle out the toys. Throw out all the broken stuff and box up at least half. Put the box into a closet out of the way and forget about it for about 6 months. Then when they seem to get bored of what they have out, box up what is out and switch out boxes.

My youngest never really played with toys past the age of 3 or so but the idea above worked great when I ran a daycare.

Rachel said...

I agree that my "vision" and reality are a bit different, but we also have no more than 3 toys with batteries at any given time. Our problem is that relatives tend to gift us expensive toys that I hate, and I can't get rid of them without offending them (we do have a rule that gifts from my in-laws stay at their house since we visit a lot and they know that I don't want those things in our tiny apartment). We have all of the classic toys (trains, blocks, rattles/tambourines/toy piano, dress-up box, puzzles) and I'd say the fusspot rotates through most everything at least once a month. Of course, I also try and set out an activity for her every night for the morning (we are SO not morning people, and even an extra 10 minutes of peace is glorious) so I can definitely influence what she reaches for in the morning by setting it up.

I would second the suggestions to keep a few cheap toys for rotation - especially if you need some extra distraction while trying to work at home during a sick day or over the holidays.

triciap said...

Hi Cece,
I think you are on the exact right track with what you are doing. Personally I think it's very easy for kids to become overwhelmed with too much "stuff". What you described, the 'editing down' seems like a great plan. You and your hubby know best what your kids love, get rid of the extras, and maybe start some rotation of new items. Peace to you and your lovely family.

Karen said...

What we did (the kids are now 23 and 8) was rotate the toys. I'd keep a few out for playing with and when I saw that something wasn't getting any attention it went into the closet and out came something else. When things returned it was like they were new all over again. We did keep a few things out all the time like Legos, blocks and the doll house.

Sara said...

Good post! I like to see what others say.
When Payton was smaller, we did have some noisy toys. They didn't really bother me too much - it was usually music. As she gets older (she's 2 1/2) we have transitioned more into the quality toys. I have a lot of hand-me-downs from my nephews and niece - I have really had to go through it and pick out the things that I think she will enjoy and that are of good quality. We have quite a bit of Melissa and Doug puzzles, etc... And she loves her baby doll, stroller, etc. Mostly I have books for her!
If she plays with it, I will keep it out. But if weeks go by and she has no interest, out it goes. :)

kate said...

i'm a SAHM, & we've ended up with a bigger stash of toys that i thought possible. i blame it on having so many kids (4 under 3. it is essential to my sanity to have multiples of favorite toys.) i do rotate toys every couple months, & purge when i get so sick of things i can't stand it anymore, but it's kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants strategy.
as for noisy toys-- they are everyone's favorite, so we have far too many for my taste. but in reality, i only allow 2 out at a time, or i would be throwing them out the window.