Friday, 5 December 2014

Kid's Toys - Why Less is More


When I walked into my first preschool room (that I would soon be in charge of) I was totally overwhelmed by all of the toys that were covering every single area of the room. I wondered if I was feeling this way, were the kids feeling this way too(?) It didn’t seem so at the time, but looking back the chaos in the room was on a different level. Dr. Kim John Payne sums it up nicely An avalanche of toys invites emotional disconnect and a sense of overwhelm. As Christmas approaches, the talk has turned to what my friends are getting for their little monsters (as we're sat in their play rooms surrounded by toys) and I find myself trying to turn the topic to less is more, pressures from society, toy rotation and the magic of a simple cardboard box.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Toys can play a meaningful part in your little monsters lives (and we have an amazing Top100 Toy list to help you really focus in on what toys to buy your little monsters), but I do think a lot of us adults have convinced ourselves that the more toys our little monsters have the more they will be happy and play- which just isn’t the case. What you’ll find is that the pick-up, move, throw, hide, dump and manipulate every toy in the play room (with little meaningful engagement) and you’re left to clean up the mess at the end of the night. (Does that sound about right?) One of the first things I did in that preschool room was to sort out all the toys, books and educational resources, which meant I took away over 1/2 of what was there (through it away or gave it to the charity shops) and then sort and packed away 1/2 of what was left, ready for rotation. This left the children with limited resources, but the chaos was toned down and our little monsters play was more focused and meaningful. (There's a great more in-depth article about Toy Rotation from Playful Learning.)

So is less, REALLY more? In the case of our little monsters having too many toys -YES! Becoming a Minimalist has outlined 12 reasons Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids. I personally like numbers 1 (Kids learn to be more creative) and number 8 (Kids learn perseverance). These are easily combinable- Too many toys in the play room prevent our little monsters from fully exploring their own imaginations and how the toys around them operate. They get board too quickly and move on to the next toy, but when a child only has a few toys, they use their basic surroundings, creativity, imagination and learn perseverance, patience, and determination. All the basic things we want for our little monsters! Living Well and Spending Less took it to a whole different level, when she took most of her 2 daughter’s toys away and the past year they have worked really hard at clearing our lives of excess clutter and filling our “time jar” with the things that matter the most.
One last thing - I hear a lot from parents that they feel pressure from society to keep up with the lasts trends. Psychologist Oliver James, author of the parenting book Love Bombing, believes children don't need a vast amount of toys and says that "Most children need a transition object (their first teddy bear that they take everywhere.) But everything else is a socially generated want." (BBC) The pressure is out there (this is undeniable), but as a parent you have the power to take charge of your emotions and show your little monsters that owning something (a toy, book, even clothes) is a privilege not a right! As parents you want to give your little monsters everything (understandably), but one of the best gifts you can give them, is a better understand of the relationships we have with material items and knowledge about being a responsible consumer (this can and does start at a very young age). Having more faith in your little monster to understand these important lessons in life is key. They're not easy lessons to learn, but in the end, your little monster will be  more gratefully for the life around them. So simply, stop trying to Keeping up with the Joneses- it's boring!
OK- so you’re inspired- Less is MORE and you’re now forever limiting the toys you buy for your little monsters (insert crazy smiley face here)! But you still want to give gifts and so does your family and friends.
Here are our TOP Non Toy Gifts for your little monsters:
Money: This is a great gift to help teach your little monsters about being a responsible consumer. They'll have to make choices about saving or not, what they want to spend the money- a toy, a day out, ice cream; and they will start to understand that money doesn't grow on trees!
Recipe and Ingredients: Little monsters love getting messy in the kitchen! And there's loads of cute Cookies in a Jar Recipes that are great to give to your little monsters (some explaining might have to be done)! Cooking is an ideal time to spend some quality time together and learn life skills (Check out little monsters in the kitchen).
Coupons: An envelope of coupons that they can spend at any time is a great gift, that allows your little monsters to BE a little monster &......
Stay in your PJ's all day!
Have Breakfest for Dinner!
Build a fort and sleep in it!
Stay up 1/2 hour past bedtime!
Get Messy and give Mummy a hug!
Anything that you think you're little monster will think is a treat- sky's the limit.
Time: There's no better gift than time. Piggy-backing onto the Coupons gift, make coupons dealing with time for your little monster (because we all know it goes way to quick)!
Read a story with me.
Build a fort with me.
Do a puzzle with me.
Again anything your little monsters love doing!
Get your FREE Coupon Printable from The Basket!

These gift ideals below you pay for anyways- there's no reason you can't give them to your little monster as a gift (and save a little money at the same time). Because these aren't tangible items, having something to open and hold, will excite them and to help them to remember! It's best to give them a Ticket/Coupon, pictures or brochures about what the class, day out or event is, mark it on the calendar and talk about it loads to them.

Classes: (Dance, Karate, Riding, Music, Rugby) - Sending your little monster to a class are a great away to encourage and foster their interests and a great way to spend time doing something they like.

Days Out: (Soft Play, Bowling, Water Park, Skating Rink) Your little monster loves having days out with you and in reality, like time- there's no better gift!

Events: (The Circus, Movies, Kids Play or concert, Sporting event) Having an event to look forward to, can excite your little monsters for months - just look at Christmas and what that does to them!

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