No toys for my kids

I’ve come to a very interesting realization just this weekend as I began putting together my holiday shopping list. My children, who are almost 4 and 7, really aren’t that into toys. Nevermind that they have an entire room in our home dedicated to storing and playing with toys. We have two rather large pieces of furniture that function primarily as toy storage or toy play surfaces. And they also have overflow toys in their rooms, in our dining room, in our basement, and sometimes strewn about on every surface in between. But when I step back and observe them, they really don’t PLAY with very many of their toys.

There are a few exceptions. My son is now obsessed with cars and car washes. He enjoys building tracks for cars to drive on and makeshift car washes out of boxes, sponges, pom poms–whatever tools he can find. (Sadly, one day about 2 months ago, he announced that he no longer loves fans. He primarily loves Chevrolets–so that is what he dressed as for Halloween this year.) He has rediscovered the train track set he received for Christmas two years ago and really never took much interest in until now, and enjoys putting together roads for his cars. But to be honest, he would be just as happy driving his cars on any random surface, and can pretty much get his jollies for an hour or two looking at car logos in the Automobile section of the yellow pages in our phone book. When I think back over my son’s 4 years of living, I realize that we’ve probably spent less than $200 on toys for him. Most of his toys he has received as gifts or hand-me-downs. But he still had loads to choose from, and most often reaches for the random assortment of Matchbox cars that seem to breed in a basket and appear out of nowhere. I can’t think of a single toy that he wants or needs for Christmas this year. We will probably get him a bike, just because it seems like the thing to do. But otherwise, he really just likes real life car wash tools like rags and sponges, and perhaps a few more cars.

The realization that my kids aren’t toy crazy came as more of a surprise when I realized that it’s true for my daughter. She was our first born, and a girl, so she has always been surrounded by toys–stuffed animals, dolls, doll houses, Polly Pockets, Barbies, Groovey Girls, etc. But when asked what she most likes to play with, she just says books and “imagination” stuff. I had a tape recorder out yesterday and did a little radio interview with both kids, asking them about themselves, who their friends are and what they like to do. When I asked my daughter what she wanted for Christmas this year, she looked stumped, and asked if she could go and find the big Toys R’ Us catalog and pick something out. But I know how this would go–she would find some big piece of plastic crap with 1,000,000,000 tiny pieces and say she wanted it, then when she did receive it, it would hold her interest for all of 30 minutes and then half the pieces would become victim to my vacuum cleaner the next time I clean her room. We’ve suffered through the short-lived love for Amazing Amanda, she has her brief Polly Pocket phases when playdates are over, and she does enjoy her arts and crafts tools and books. But she’s also just as happy to play “orphan”, pretending to wash, scrub, sweep and dust our home with old burp cloths and my ironing spray bottle.

Last year, I felt like Scrooge because we weren’t shopping. This year, as I try to plan ahead, I feel like Scrooge because I can’t think of anything my kids really need that will really be fun and long lasting for them. Do we just have too much? Or are most toys just crap these days (or do I just make crappy choices)? Perhaps the 80/20 rule starts this young! Have I created two little servants who feel they should spend their days washing my car and cleaning my home rather than playing with their Chinese-made, lead-tainted toys? What’s on your kids’ wish list this year? Perhaps I should steal a page from the Dangerous Book for Boys/Daring Book for Girls and get back to basics…sending them out into the world with nothing more than their imaginations and just hope for the best!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to No toys for my kids

  1. Pingback: Arts and crafts for kids » Blog Archive » No toys for my kids

  2. She-Ra says:

    Go to the Flylady’s website – she always has great clutter-free gift ideas. The idea is give time rather than stuff. I’m headed that way too myself this year. I went to the big mall in town on a Saturday afternoon recently. About made me sick – the crowds, the consumerism… yuck. Homemade and clutter-free as possible is the way I’m headed this year. Hopefully I can stay true (because I like to buy toys. for the kids that don’t need toys – they are everywhere here like you describe there and it’s mostly my own fault).

  3. perr1ker5h says:

    Thanks for reading, She-Ra. I used to love me some Flylady, but I felt overwhelmed by her (and for a Neat Freak like me, that’s saying something). Sometimes I just didn’t want to put my damn shoes on. But she does share great ideas for keeping things tidy.

    And you’re right…there are so many kids who have NOTHING! I just did a big toy room and clothes clean out last night after posting that blog and feeling inspired. My playroom now looks a little more orderly and I only kept out the stuff they’re into right now (games, cars, books) and put the rest away or stuffed it in my donation box. Ahhhhh, organzational bliss.

  4. Kim says:

    Why don’t you get the kids a board game that you can play together as a family? It’s a way to spend time together and enjoy each other’s company. Cranium has a whole series of fun,imaginative games for younger kids. We have one called Carbioo (for kids 3+) and I just bought another one called Cadoo (for 7+). Yes, they have small parts, but in our house all the games go on a very talllll bookshelf 😉

  5. perr1ker5h says:

    My kids do love games (I just spent all morning teaching my six year old how to play Scrabble). She gave the Cranium game Whonu as a gift to a friend this year, and then kept asking for it herself. I think I’ll add that to the list. Anyone have experience with Blokus? It looks kind of fun. Also, any good ideas for games that a 3 year old can play with a 6 year old (you know…so mommy had more time to blog!)?

  6. Chicken says:

    November 2007 was a few months ago but as I put my kids to sleep and search the web for the key words “my kids don’t play with their toys” this is the refreshing post that comes up to read. Everything you have written is exactly what it is like here. I ahve a daughter (6,5) a son (3,5) and a baby girl (8 months) and today was a bad day.Having all kids home from school/daycare and although the house is FILLED with toys they don’t play with ANY of them. It blows my mind.

    I decided to take a day or two in the near future to go through all their toys, put most of them away in the basement in neat boxes and bags (assorted and labeled) and just keep a few things out in the house. If they don;t ask for their stuff for the next month or so I will go to the local second hand shop and drop off the stuff right there.

    Just like you I have bought furniture and organized boxes for all the toys in their room, in the living room, kitchen… And it only sits there. Littlest Pet Shop is spread all over the house and makes me dead nervous as my 8 month old cleans the floors on all fours with her mouth wide open for exploration of small toy bits and pieces.

    To be honest my boy only plays with his tiny Lightning McQueen car and 2 other race cars from the movie he got for Christmas. He also has an old sturdy garage that he has played with for years now but other than that he mostly just pours out all the toys on the floor every now and then and leaves it there.

    My girl loves drawing, cutting, pasting, crafts… But all the Barbies, Bratz, TrollZ etc… They stay untouched most of the time. She loves to dress out so all princess dresses and other costumes I have gotten for her through the years are now starting to fall a part y all the wear and tear.

    My kids loves to be outside and I think what I will do fr the future is to buy them sporty outdoor stuff like tennis rackets, basket balls, inlines, scooters, bicycles, skipping ropes etc. And for my boy – maybe a new sturdy garage with a carwash as the old one is falling a part now, and some new cool race cars. For my girl I will not buy a single piece of a plastic collectible anymore. From now on I will invest in more dressing out outfits and drawing and crafts supplies. And games. Kids loves games and it keeps their imagination going.

    this was really refreshing to read. I feel much better now. No more junk toys in the house. I will sort it all out and get rid of tons of it. Less is more and that is true.

  7.’s done it once more. Incredible article.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s