I wrote a post once titled “10 Things You Don’t Need For A New Baby.” It inspired hatred and laughter (not from the same people) and I am sure that this will be no different. There is a possibility that at the ripe age of 34, with four children trailing after me and a still vibrant desire for a somewhat livable and clean house, that I have become indescribably cranky and sarcastic for someone my age.
Then again, maybe I am absolutely right.
So, without further ado, my list of 5 things your child doesn’t actually need.
1. Puzzles – Puzzles are stupid and annoying at any age, really. You have probably noticed this. At least you have if you have anybody under four feet tall living with you. They make a mess, they are ruined forever if even one piece gets lost, they take forever to figure out, and when you are done, the only thing to do is take it apart again. UGH! (Ironically, I do really enjoy a puzzle now and again and had a week where I was sure that a puzzle had saved my marriage, but I digress.)
Puzzles for children are especially ridiculous because there are a few things that always happen. ALWAYS. I speak from experience.
a) It will get dumped on the floor.
b) The lame collapsible box it comes in will be destroyed. (Making skate shoes out of it is always fun, especially if you have little feet.)
c) I will have to clean it up.
d) Rather than actually cleaning it up, I will sweep it up with the other old oranges, petrified cheese sticks and Jenga wooden blocks that are found on the floor with it. Yes I sweep daily, and yes this still happens.
Puzzles, while often thought of as educational are actually the bane of your existence. Don’t believe what other people say. TRUST ME- especially if you are considering buying one for a person under the age of 12.
(Note- if you love puzzles, please comment below about what an idiot I am. I can totally handle it.)
2. Things that blink or make noise – Holy Hell, are people who hate parents designing these things? Seriously. Seriously.
I actually have a pretty high tolerance for noise, cacophony and general chaos. (Can’t you tell? I seem really mellow right now, don’t I?) But light-up, respond to your touch, act like a real, in-person cartoon toys are not something you need. I don’t want to sound too much like a hippie, but I have actually come to believe that they destroy creativity and eventually, the soul. Yeah.
PS- I sometimes have a tendency to over exaggerate.
3. Flat screens – You now what, my youngest is three and people will routinely hand her a flat screen ipad or iphone so she can be entertained. This drives me BONKERS and almost immediately makes her SCREAM bloody murder. Why? Because she loves it so much that if anybody comes near her or tries to touch it she wants to slaughter them.
I am not even making this up. It is frightening and the opposite of helpful.
I refuse to believe that these things have educational value. I know people want kids to be quiet at church or on the plane or wherever, and I want my kids to do that too sometimes. That is why they invented television. (Yeah, I just said that. Yes, I was kidding. Don’t freak out.)
Seriously though- they can play with the carpet or learn to behave appropriately in appropriate situations rather than being glued to heroin in computerized form. Heaven knows I understand addiction to social media…
4. Art products – Yes, I am the official anti-mom. I dare admit that I have come to hate art. The phrase, “Mom, can we get out the paints,” makes me shudder. Once, I wet myself in horror.
Lots of messes, ruined clothing, etc, etc, etc.
Yes I sound grumpy, yes I still let them do art. They have to because they aren’t allowed to play with the ipad. Anyway, they go to Waldorf school so pretty much they do art all day and I figure they don’t need to do it at home too.
5. Beads – I asked hubby what his thoughts were and his response was “beads.” Ahh…beads, how could I forget you?! I step on you often, I sweep you up, and I will never forget that time when the tray of 20 different colored beads first arrived and then somebody opened the closet and they dumped out on the floor.
Needless to say, they are no longer in their own proper colored cubby hole.
After all this grumbling you might be wondering what I let my children play with. Here is the fabulous list of “approved” toys for the kiddos.
1. Dirt – (I realize this sounds stupid after my paint ranting. I don’t know what my problem is. Did I mention I may be a hippie?)
2. Sticks – Yes, people get hurt and sometimes I have to hide them. The great thing about sticks though is that I can toss them easily and without guilt. Also, they are relegated to be outside toys.
3. A Hose – Kids like hoses. They are great if water comes out of them but my four year old is also obsessed with using an old birth tub hose as a trumpet. Don’t worry, nobody gave birth in the birth tub before it was emptied via the hose.)
4. Boxes – Aaaannnddd you can recycle them when they are done. YAY!
5. Other kids – Before they had ipads, little children would play with other little children. True story.
You can take or leave my advice. I am sure all of you have children who love puzzles and pick up after themselves. Congrats. But isn’t it nice now and again to have somebody tell you something you DON’T need rather than a big long list of all the expensive stuff you DO need? Admit it. It is.
Sarah Clark is a mother of four, a natural birth teacher, an instructor trainer for Birth Boot Camp, a published author (magazines! WHOOT!) and a blogger at www.mamabirth.blogspot.com.