After years of spending most of the day getting my kids to tidy their toys … This photo was the work of one four year old… and definitely time for some dramatic problem resolution. Clearly something had to be done!
We were always pretty organized, everything in its own box or drawer and so on… there was just way too much, and that was when we had only two kids! Anyway I had an epiphany and we settled on only the best and got rid of the rest – aaaahhh peace! Everything is stored in open boxes and when the box starts to overflow, well then it is time to discard. Also, if I look at a toy and it is not one of our brands then I just don’t buy it – wonderful no clutter – we have our se7en boxes and thats it.
They each have a spot to keep their own very special stuff but everything else belongs to everyone, if an item gets caught in a squabble – well it gets lost – very mean but it works!
Regardless of toys I have to say they play the most with a pile of old cushions and blankets: for building houses, forts, whatever. Otherwise they spend most of their days drawing, crafting, drawing and arting and did I mention drawing… but thats another whole post!!! And if they are outdoors they are making and creating houses and forts… yes there is a theme, kids love building nests…
I do have prerequisites for toys: they have to be robust and I mean strong enough not to break even when an adult is not watching the game. I cannot be watching all games at once! Also, I am not the sort of mother that gets down on the floor and scoots cars… never have been! So, all toys must function on their own, without adult intervention… And if they don’t require batteries or screwdrivers for maintenance then I have found a winner. And the final test, would I want to pack it up… if I wouldn’t then nobody else will either… and it is not crossing the threshold.
So already my list of fly-by-night flimsy plastic vehicles; dollies with millions of hair accessories and minute shoes; and my favorite worst (!) movie theme toys and so on are resolved – I never have to buy them – and I don’t feel bad, they just aren’t on my list.
Anyway, here are our se7en enduring toys:
Lego: We got a huge bucket from some really special friends as they left Cape Town years ago…I have never had to buy another piece of Lego, Bless them! And they have kept my children entertained for hours and hours. I do have the instructions in a folder, but they never ask for them. They just build whatever they are passionate about at the time. At the moment it just happens to be satellites.
Duplo: My younger guys love this stuff and I really don’t see the need to buy any other construction toys for them… they just build and build and build… I also use them as a very important employment opportunity, “Which of you can build the highest tower?”, when I need them out of the way while we do tricky science experiments, for example.
Zoobs: These are great, the one toy that crosses all age boundaries. The shortest people love them, even if it is just for chewing and the great feeling of stirring them in the box.
The big guys love building spy gear with them… hands free phone gear, air tanks and stuff like that.
Doll’s House and attachments: These toys are brilliant, wooden and sturdy. Great for pretend play and they are part of a whole range so we can add to them as birthdays come to pass (and we have more than a few of those!!!). They aren’t cheap, but then again they are not nasty either, all my kids love them.
WOW Toys: What can I say, these little vehicles are brilliant – like the Fisher Price Toys I played with when I was a whole lot younger… Construction vehicles; farm vehicles; camping vehicles; boats; people – the whole caboodle. They are strong and don’t break as soon as you look at them, in fact they are really robust and have survived some really wild play (smashing around and falling off cliffs for instance!). The best thing about these toys is that they work, some of them rumble when they drive; all the little cranes and things work, doors open and close, helicopters hoist… they actually work… and the VERY BEST THING about them, for all, this is that they don’t need batteries!!!
A Box of Plastic Wild Animals: Lots and lots of all sorts of animals: farm animals; reptiles; insects; jungle animals… whatever – these are great for all sorts of games!!! Great for pretend play, endless games of fishing out the bath, packing into backpacks, trailing through play dough… whatever.
Pretend toys: Dressing up with endless hats, well hats, bandanas, gloves; mostly hats! They love dressing up and taking on personalities…
I used to keep all the dressing up toys in a big basket – and they were never played with, but since I organized them in this hanging storage they play with them constantly.
Other pretend toys they play with are cooking toys, which I keep in the kitchen, so when visitors come there are always some ready toys and there is no need to unpack the whole house.
Many long afternoons have been frittered away washing dishes… really you can watch a child play with a bucket of soap suds all afternoon… more important I can read a book while my toddler washes dishes – definitely my kind of play…
That’s it – Play Hard!!!