Over the years we've collected many things. Toys and gadgets for birthdays and Christmas. Some things I loved at the time, others I was ready to throw out the window the minute the "on" switch was turned on. (Haven't we all been there?)
We have recently been on a mission to change the face of "play" in our home to more creative, imaginative old-fashioned play. It has changed how we give gifts, how many "play things" we have in our home, and how we care for them.
I've been wanting to purge for some time now. You know, gather all of the loud, beeping toys, the piles of stuffed animals that are gathering dust, the toys that are missing too many pieces, and the toys that, really, no one plays with.
And that is exactly what we did this summer: gathered almost everything. There have been random toys shoved in baskets in a bench that are never pulled out and random pieces of toys kept in many nooks. But does anyone really play with them? Sometimes when they remember them. I've known this for sometime, that the really creative play things in our house stand the test of time. They invite my children to play with them time and time again. They may not be bright and interactive, but I'd rather my girls play with basic things that encourage them to do the creating. Like the things I played with when I was a little girl.
We said goodbye to many of these toys this summer and sold some at a yard sale and donated the rest to our church's nursery class. The girls knew all the while that this all was for a good cause, (they didn't mind too much) that the money they earned would go towards something special.
I knew exactly what I wanted for my girls to grow and experience childhood with; a large wooden sturdy dollhouse. I have learned that replacing more modern plastic toys with lasting wooden toys is quite a difference in price. This Christmas, Caroline and Johanna received one play toy each, their wooden doll highchair and cradle. They don't expect a load of presents and are learning to treat their toys with more care. They've heard me say (more than once) that these special toys will grow with them and that I intent them to be around for my grandchildren.
The dollhouse. The money from their toys sold at the yard sale contributed to it. Kind grandparents contributed to their one special birthday present. And in front of all of those who helped to make it possible, Caroline and Johanna opened each doll family member and each piece of furniture. I wanted the revealing to be as much of a memory as their imaginary play over the years, so made them each a special card (with a clue of their gift on the front) signed by each of their parents and grandparents.
Hours have been spent at this dollhouse since they opened it. Homemade blankets have been made out of Kleenex, lots of learning how to "share" the dollhouse space, and random hugs from Caroline with, "Mommy, thank you so much!"
I'm realizing how important it is as the parent to encourage these imaginative toys, the toys that keep my children children when so much of the world is trying to hurry the process of childhood through video games and pre-mature lipstick.
There is something to say, as well, to the aesthetics of well made toys. They enhance our home. They draw my children to them. They remind my children how to take care of these things.
If you're interested in slowly building up some special, lasting toys, my favorite place is Nova Natural Toys and Crafts. If there is something for your child that is too expensive, consider inviting grandparents to help give the gift. Or, let kids help earn money to put towards it.
We purchased the dollhouse with furniture and mini Waldorf family from this company, along with their high chair and cradle. They are beautiful pieces that will last forever, which is seen in the price.
What is your approach to play?
the sleepy time gal