Many moms have seemingly weird, arbitrary rules around toys in their houses. Some don’t like things that require batteries. Other moms insist toys be educational. There are parents only want toys made out of natural, non-toxic materials that are sustainable and beautiful. I’m not judging y’all, really I’m not. But due to various reasons, there are a few toys I absolutely refuse to buy my kids. I wouldn’t throw these things out immediately if someone else bought them for my kids, but I might slowly shuffle them out until there were no more in existence.
Whether it is store bought or homemade, I don’t do Play-Doh. My children have gotten small containers as trick-or-treat gifts or as part of birthday party goody bags in the past, and I sigh and I let them play with it. But, secretly, I hate this stuff. It gets everywhere! for several years we lived in a basement apartment that had wall-to-wall carpet. As anyone who has ever had both Play-Doh and carpet knows, these two things should never, ever be in the same room together. It is not worth the fun that might possibly be had. Of course, my children, especially my youngest, love the stuff. At daycare, it is one of his absolute, most favorite things. I even love that he loves it. I love it even more that he loves it outside my house!
Looking for an alternative manipulative that’s easier on your home? Let your child help you in the kitchen the next time you make anything involving dough. Pie crust, bread, sugar cookies . . . bonus is they can actually eat it!
I don’t buy video games for my kids. By this I mean the kind that hook up to the TV or handheld devices that are for games only – like xBox, Playstation, Nintendo DS, and whatever else exists now. It’s not that I think that they will rot my kids brains or I’m really all that worried about excessive screen time (I’m not). It’s mainly about the space they take up, not to mention it’s one more thing that is input to the TV. And keeping up with controllers and games and all the other paraphernalia.
Instead of video game systems, look into kid-friendly tablets. My kids do have (each of them) a Kindle Fire on which they can play all the games they want, read stories or watch videos. But the Kindles are far easier to manage, do not take over the TV, and are relatively inexpensive. Other than the FreeTime subscription, there really isn’t any additional costs. No $40 games, no fancy extra controllers, and the parental controls are excellent. It also helps that my kids don’t seem horribly interested in video games. They will play at their friends’ houses, and that’s an arrangement I can live with.
This one “rule” I broke, I admit. My daughter and youngest son love to bring toys in the bath. So, last Christmas, Santa brought each of them a water Barbie in their stocking. However, I think I was right in having this rule. My objections to Barbie have less to do with her proportions or any other supposedly sexist sort of logic. Barbies are just not well made. They break too easily, the clothes are ridiculously difficult for small hands to get on and off, and, well, I could go on. I won’t. Suffice it to say, I won’t be buying any more.
I want to suggest an alternative Barbie. There’s a few different ones on the market now, Lottie dolls and Lammily being the first ones that spring to mind. I’ve not personally bought either, but they look promising!
Before I had kids of my own, I worked in the pre-school aged room of a daycare center as a lead teacher. One lasting memory of that time was getting clocked between the eyes with a wooden block, and let me tell you, it is the sort of pain you don’t forget! Now, kids being kids, they throw things. All the things. Wooden blocks are especially heinous as thrown weapons. Trust me on this, there are lots of great building toys out there that don’t cause the sort of pain that wooden blocks do. Plus, they take up a lot of space.
Instead of wooden blocks, try Magnatiles. Or foam blocks. Melissa and Doug make great cardboard bricks that are fantastic.
When my oldest son’s kindergarten teacher suggested Legos for building fine muscle coordination and strength, I inwardly groaned. For six years I had avoided this all time favorite classic toy. I had bought Lego’s larger cousins, Duplo and Mega blocks. All three of my children love building with the blocks. They do not love cleaning them up. I certainly do not find discovering them with my bare feet in the middle of the night a pleasurable experience. So I refused to buy the tiny Legos that all my children’s friends have. But then. . . the teacher suggested it would be helpful for my son, who had great gross motor skills and athletic ability but less interest in developing his fine motor skills. So, we bought him a bunch of Legos for Christmas. You know what? Legos are way more complicated than they were when I was a kid. So many specialized little bitty pieces! The instructions are less like a pamphlet and more like a novel. And neither he nor I had the patience for any of it. To this day, those Legos live in a bucket in his room. He won’t let anybody else play with them, but he’s not interested, either.
What we did discover that he loved to do was make those little rubber band bracelets. This holds his attention for hours, the little pieces are equally annoying but at least they don’t hurt my feet if I accidentally step on one, and the supplies are a whole lot easier on my wallet. Win-win!