This year I have decided that my boys are not going to have a huge pile of new toys stacked to the ceiling for their birthday. Neither will Father Christmas be jamming their stockings full to the brim.
The reason behind this?
Contrary to what they might think they don’t actually want them!
Up until recently I would attempt to sort, organise and tidy their millions of plastic figurines, kinder surprise “things” and random crap won at some machine. It would take a couple of hours each time and even though I would throw out any broken toys or “bits” that no one knows where it came from, there would always still be too much to fit into the designated IKEA toy boxes.
One day, while my eldest was at Preschool and so unable to witness my daring act, I decided to bag up anything that wasn’t played with anymore. All together it came to 3 extremely full giant garbage bags. These consisted of:
- A bag of crap – those kinder toys, tiny bouncy balls and anything broken.
- Stuff they rarely played with but I thought I better keep for a little while in case they notice it’s gone and want it back!
- Stuff I know they definitely won’t notice and that can be donated to charity.
Out of all 3 of those bags do you know what they noticed?? NOTHING!! It is now 4-5 months later and they haven’t even questioned why the toy box quantity has gone from down from 4 boxes to only 2. I even removed a giant A frame blackboard from Mr 5’s bedroom – not a clue!
So, with both of their birthday’s coming up in the next few months it got me thinking – do I really want to buy loads of pressies that will get thrown away in a couple of months when I realise they are now just space wasters?? Absolutely not.
In doing this, something else I noticed was that when their daily screen time limit is reached and the inevitable “there is nothing to do, i’m bored” starts they are no longer responding to my “go and play with your toys” with the frustrating “but my toys are all boring” but instead are looking for and loving more creative activities. This doesn’t require hours of preparation and Pinteresting for ideas. What actually seems to captivate them the most at the moment is actually a book of stickers and a plain bit of paper – simple, cheap and great for their little minds.
So if no new toys then what will I buy for birthday’s this year?
I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous I wouldn’t be able to find anything for my eldest’s birthday but truth is, I don’t think he is that fussed about toys anyway. I think we are just led to believe (by the big toy companies of course) that a birthday or Christmas is not complete without stacks of toys.
What I am happy to buy is pretty much anything creative. Things that get him thinking, opening up his mind and imagination.
I asked my 5 year old for his birthday wish list yesterday and it consisted of:
I will also get him some Lego – always a winner, sticker books, particularly ones that encourage counting or learning letters and some other kind of craft activity, such as a Gift In A Tin.
So as you can see, there are no new toys. Instead, it is all creative activities that exercise the mind and that will last him for years – I still have my Lego 30 years later and am not ashamed to say that I still enjoy building a little house with pretty flowers in the garden!
This just proves that if you actually ask what they really want, it may be surprising. Of course, as they watch TV they are going to be tempted by the bright colours and smiling faces of children playing with the shiny new toys. However most of them can’t or at least don’t read the tiny print at the bottom of the screen that reads something like: “toys don’t actually talk or light up or move or make sound” No wonder these toys are opened with excitement only to be thrown on the floor 10 minutes later.