or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › anyone wanna join my toy-free tribe?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

anyone wanna join my toy-free tribe? - Page 3

post #41 of 196
I'm trying to slow down the rate at which we accumulated toys, mainly through birthdays and Christmas. I'm sad to say that I'm not making any progress whatsoever. DS just had a birthday, he turned 5, and I'm feeling stressed looking at the pile of toys that were given to him. I couldn't take them away because they are his gifts, but at the same time, I don't want to keep them. It's a constant struggle. And then there're the junks from goody bags of birthdays that DC attended. Arrgghhh...
post #42 of 196
subbing! i may have found my tribe...one of them anyway .
post #43 of 196
I've been following this thread with interest, and have come up with three aspects to the toy issue for our family:

1. People are more important than things. This means that we are committed to an anti-materialist approach to our life, both animate and inanimate members. This applies not only to our attitude toward acquisition of things (or lack thereof), but also guides our larger family philosophy. It impacts the way we choose to spend our time, the things we talk and think about, and our goals for our family.
2. "Stuff" is a burden. This leads us in the minimalist direction as well as the anti-materialist (I think it's possible to be anti-materialist but not minimalist; I'm thinking it may also be possible to be minimalist but not anti-materialist). Everything we acquire weighs us down, although second-or-more-hand stuff weighs less heavily, at least on me.
3. It's important to spend time playing alone. Both DH and I have precious memories of playing alone as children, and we want to allow DD to develop this skill as well--although, not surprisingly considering her genes, she seems to be a natural! This means, as far as I can see, that we will make toys in some form available to her. I agree with the many people who mentioned that everyday objects are often superior to made-to-be-toys objects, although I also agree that some toys are just plain really good toys!

Okay, so that's my "philosophical" musing on the subject. As background, I grew up in an anti-materialist, TV-free family and loved it (although I do remember being jealous of some of the toys my friend across the street had). One thing that my family did which DH and I are carrying on into our family is to not include presents in our Christmas celebration. I also had a fascinating conversation about children and play with my MIL (who is wonderful) a couple of months ago when we visited. She talked about the two small children that lived across the street and used to come over a lot (she's the kind of person kids like to spend time with), and how they didn't know how to play. They had all sorts of fancy toys from this or that movie, but all they did was push buttons or "replay" the story. She was pretty disturbed about how uncreative they were already--and how clearly this was connected to being part of the materialistic culture we live in. This made me also think about how approach is as important as quantity. While we were there my FIL kept telling my MIL that she was overwhelming DD with too many toys at once (all out of a box of toys DH and siblings played with, mostly "educational"). It was interesting, though, to see MIL and DD interacting over the toys. MIL kept showing DD new things and how they worked, and DD just watched and watched and tried new things. You could practically see her learning and soaking it all in. It was almost the opposite of the "using everyday objects as toys." They were using toys as objects to explore.

Okay, this is getting way too long. Obviously I've been thinking about this quite a bit. Just ignore me if my ramblings aren't interesting!
post #44 of 196
I have to sub to this thread.... I sooo want to get rid of allllll the toys that have been given to the kids and give them to good will. they dont play with any of them. I would love it if I had maybe some wooden ones but atleast for alittle while I would like to go toy free and maybe we would stay at the toy free type lifestyle. I would like to get more into books with them. I think i can do this.
post #45 of 196
i think a question that comes up is how to handle toys coming in from those who do not necessarily share your philosophy.

i mean, i agree with a lot of the various underlying principles espoused here--obviously it's a tribe i relate to--but it seems that all of us struggle to 'control' what comes in from others at christmas, birthdays, and random events where our children find themselves (parties, etc).

i would say that my parents and i have very divergent values about 'stuff.' i would say the same is true of my ILs, but they are different than my parents. my sister is more like my parents, and so they tend to 'get along' better.

for my family, my values about things such as organic, fair trade, and minimalist approaches are very difficult to understand and, in their minds, very limited and "not enjoying life." of course, i do not feel this way.

another aspect of the struggle is that buying things is one of the ways that the family "shows love and caring" for each other. often, they buy on impulse, based on what they like or think you might like--rather than on what you really want.

in this process of planning for the baby, we are taking a very minimalist approach with it--something they are not happy with.

my mother wants to buy a full nursery set, we just want a new, organic, king-size mattress for our family bed. what we want costs half of what my mother wants to get, but because she doesn't want to get what we want, she won't get anything.

and she's upset about that because she can't share her love/affection for the baby in this way (her way of spending), and she's upset because we're "rebuffing" her.

drama, i know.

and i can only imagine that it gets more difficult when you add in birthdays and what not.

any advice to this?
post #46 of 196

Count me in, too

We have toys, and some are pricey (the Learning Tower and wooden kitchen), but we try to stick with open-ended, basic toys, and I really don't want so many toys that our child is overstimulated and can't concentrate on one project for long. I also don't want her to feel like having a bunch of natural toys is a status symbol.

I really like the toys suggested in Toymaking With Children. My friend is borrowing the book, so I can't check, but I believe the author recommends only 3-4 toys (homemade) for the first year, one of which is a ball, and another is a cloth doll. The author does stress the importance of doll play for both boys and girls.

We have many baskets that we got from Salvation Army, and we fill them with various collections of simple "toys" - acorns, nuts, sea shells, feathers, play silks, pieces of bark, puppets, dress-up toys, sticks, etc. DD (23 months) loves these toys (by the way, she is not one to put things in her mouth, and we supervise her - this might not be an appropriate suggestion for other children until they are older). Sorting and dumping dried beans is one of her favorite games. Then she loves to sweep up the beans when we are done.
post #47 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
i think a question that comes up is how to handle toys coming in from those who do not necessarily share your philosophy.

and i can only imagine that it gets more difficult when you add in birthdays and what not.

any advice to this?
A few things I've learned along the way . . .
(1) Ask for books. At least around my house, we can just never have enough children's books. They are used more than any toy.
(2) Ask for classes/memberships to museums as a gift.
(3) Don't have large birthday parties. Have people over, but not for a gift-giving situation. (Even I ignore invites that say "no presents" so I am not sure how well that strategy works in real life.)
(4) Don't feel guilty about blessing someone else with what you've been given as a gift. People have every right to buy what they want as a gift, but you are never obligated to keep it.
(5) Keep a catalog like Nova Natural Toys around. Sometimes people just don't realize how gorgeous non-commercial toys are.
(6) Be grateful. I don't have these gift issues with my family, but I've heard friends complain about how their parents aren't "allowed" to buy clothes for the baby because they don't pick cute outfits. I don't get it-- why not just say THANK YOU and then move on?

In the case of the nursery set-- could you and your mom shop online together for something (if local isn't available) more functional like an organic blanket and clothes-- maybe she just wants the experience of buying something cute, and the mattress doesn't fill that want? I REALLY think once she sees how beautiful these things can be, she'll be hooked. Maybe try Fairy Cove
post #48 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mizelenius View Post
Thinking about this more . . .

I don't think toys are inherently wrong by any stretch of the imagination. I think a toy is anything that one plays with. Take a box. If my child plays with it, it becomes a toy, and there is nothing wrong with that: my child is playing with a toy.

For myself, I also think limiting toys by materials or the way it operates (like batteries) isn't quite right, either. If my child loves to play with a toy made from plastic (like a Bilibo, a spatula, etc.) then so what? My DD had a little plastic bird that she carried around endlessly when she was 2. She slept with it, put in the stroller, and wanted to learn everything about it from a bird book (it was a Cockatiel). Should I have taken it away-- her prized bird-- and instead have handed her a wooden one?

I do not subscribe to the idea that toys must be purposeful, because that is imposing an adult's perspective on a child. Who are we to decide what is purposeful? For example, my oldest loves her fox stuffed animal. Is it "purposeful"? Well, not to me, but for her it is. She brings it everywhere, has learned about red foxes, has made things for it out of recycled things, and makes up stories about it. To me, that means the fox has helped her play, and when she plays, WOW does she learn.

The toys with batteries I do not find horrible, just a waste of money for the most part. I don't think the toys with batteries we have (though I admit, these have almost 100% been gifts) have affected the imaginations of my children. They couldn't, because they haven't played with them very often!

I think there are bigger problems (as mentioned on this thread) than toys themselves and what toys are made out of, which come from excess. Excessive amounts of toys (and everyone has their own definition of excess!) is what leads to a loss of time and money. Children can get overwhelmed. Play spaces can become inaccessible. Too much of anything at any age can lead to feeling empty and always wanting more. Why impose that on our children?

My biggest obstacle is gifts. People give very nice items, but the truth is . . .my children don't play with most of them, even the pretty natural ones. I would just like less stuff overall in our house!
:
How do you guys get your families to comply with the no plastic and/or batteries rule? Our families just don't get it. We haven't come right out and said that those things are banned, but we have been very clear about prefering things that can be built with, that are safe to go in mouths, that sort of thing. But most gifts that our kids get (baring clothes and books) are plastic, noisy things, because, I have been told, those are the sort of things that they wouldn't get from us. Which is true, because we really haven't bought them toys. Ever. My youngest loves things with wheels, and will play with anything he can drive, so that is usually what people give him. We really don't have many toys, and as a result, our kids do play with what we have, creatively, so I feel bad getting rid of them. I really think that play is a huge part of growing up, and toys are a big part of play, although definately not all of it, or even the biggest part. How do you broach this subject with 16 loving grandparents, all of whom want to give nice gifts a few times a year, without having them get upset with you for "ruining childhood" or being an extremist? And, a bit of a digression, but why is it always me who is the extremist, when my husband agrees with me? Why isn't he ever the bad guy?

Oh, yeah, we tried gift free birthdays, and were told categorically that it is unfair to do that to my grandparents, who had been planning for months for our 3 year olds birthday, because they were trying really hard to respect our leanings towards toys, and thought they had it nailed. (They got him, and his brother a few months later, some Thomas the train stuff, mostly tracks, that they LOVE to put together in different ways.) My mom said it was fine to go gift free from friends, but not family. Any thoughts on that?
post #49 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by Girlymomwithsons View Post
How do you broach this subject with 16 loving grandparents, all of whom want to give nice gifts a few times a year, without having them get upset with you for "ruining childhood" or being an extremist?
To start, if they are not on board with your philosophy, DON'T TELL THEM your philosophy. They will feel judged and criticized. I tell people (like my MIL) the truth when she asks what to buy, leaving out my world view. I tell her that, seriously, my kids don't play with toys, but they would really love clothes or books or art supplies. I only tell her that when she asks.

The more I think about it, the funnier I think it is that my kids don't play with designated toys for the most part. They spent 2 hours in the yard today using the hose, an umbrella, and some buckets.
post #50 of 196
actually, with my mother, it's the fun and desire of shopping and buying on impulse. she doesn't like to catelogue or online shop at all. for her, it's "no fun." and because there aren't any shops that carry organic baby stuff, etc, it's really 'no fun.'

i've sent her numerous web sites that have adorable organic baby stuff of all kinds. i've ordered print catelogues to look at as well. she simply doesn't like to shop that way. and she doesn't like to give money--because that takes all the fun out of it too.

(1) Ask for books. At least around my house, we can just never have enough children's books. They are used more than any toy.

i don't think that this will be a problem. we're actually considering asking the family to be on a rotation--so that this birthday these grandparents buy books while those buy art supplies, etc. they actually do like this idea.

but, they also see this as "in addition to" the fun/cute things that they want to get.

(2) Ask for classes/memberships to museums as a gift.

in doing this for myself, it bombs. i was asked what i wanted "for the mama" and i told them i would like prenatal massage. i was only asking that they pay for one ($55), while i would cover the rest (20 weeks worth-- so $1100). they wanted to get me an object, and so i suggested the nursing clothes that i want (bras, shirts--organic, fair trade--via the catelogues that i gave them), and that also went down hill.

it's very interesting how this process goes. i know that there are things that my parents would pay for--or that they asked my grandparents for, for us, when we were kids. we went to a water park and got season passes all summer--mom could drop us off there if one of us was over 12 (and that was me!) and so we'd spend the day there while she went to work (cheap day care! LOL). my grandmother often bought that for us as a christmas gift. so the idea isn't foreign. it just depends upon if they want to get it for us. LOL!

(3) Don't have large birthday parties. Have people over, but not for a gift-giving situation. (Even I ignore invites that say "no presents" so I am not sure how well that strategy works in real life.)

i'm not really concerned about this. we are planning on having small parties--starting with a family tradition of birthday breakfast with banana bread/cake. gifts to be given then. a birthday party with a few friends can come later, which we hope to host in the 'hobbit style'--sending information on the invitations that in the hobbit fashion, the birthday boy/girl gives gifts to the guests, not the other way around!

might go over like a lead balloon or might be considered clever.

(4) Don't feel guilty about blessing someone else with what you've been given as a gift. People have every right to buy what they want as a gift, but you are never obligated to keep it.

personally, i don't feel guilty about donating things that i don't want to charity. i do this every year with every purge thta we do in our home. our local charities actually call us "hey, are you getting rid of any X? i know you donated something last month, and we're looking for this!" even if i don't have it, i can find someone who does. LOL!

the problem comes in when something is purchased for me and i give it away, and then they come looking for it. and then it's a guilt trip.

(5) Keep a catalog like Nova Natural Toys around. Sometimes people just don't realize how gorgeous non-commercial toys are.

yup. my MIL likes catelogues, my mother doesn't. i think my MIL would be more apt to follow.

(6) Be grateful. I don't have these gift issues with my family, but I've heard friends complain about how their parents aren't "allowed" to buy clothes for the baby because they don't pick cute outfits. I don't get it-- why not just say THANK YOU and then move on?

no, i definitely say 'thank you' and 'move on.' the issue is--do they move on?

notoriously, my parents and my ILs come to my house and look for the things they've given me. when they can't find them and they ask, and then discover that i gave these things to charity--it's a disaster.

so, i re-inform them that we simplify our lives as much as we can by letting go of what we do not want/use on a regular basis.

I tell people (like my MIL) the truth when she asks what to buy, leaving out my world view.

in general, this is my process as well, except that my world view is obvious. if my mother asks me what baby clothing i want, and i give a web site of all organic baby clothing, then she knows the world view.

and, typically she'll ask why i want that clothing--meaning that i have to get into the world view. i then explain my position, and i am told that i am 'being silly.'

but, this is not just about things like organic clothing. in this instance, i asked for 7 items of clothing of each size (3-6 mo; 6-9 mo; 9-12 mo) as the 'foundation' of the baby's wardrobe over time. my mother asked why, and i asserted that i felt i likely wouldn't need much, and if i needed more, i could buy more. she said that i was 'being silly' and 'it never hruts to have more.'

so you see, she is also sharing her worldview, and it is different. and in my case, i am being judged as 'silly' whereas i do not tell my mother or ILs that i think living non-organically or whatever is "bad" because i dont' feel it is.

i just want to live this way.

----

i think the toughest thing is just letting people be angry or upset with you. i suppose eventually they'll stop sending things that you don't want, if you keep standing up for what you do one way or another.

i just wish it was possible to avoid this upset in the mean time.
post #51 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mizelenius View Post
A few things I've learned along the way . . .
(1) Ask for books. At least around my house, we can just never have enough children's books. They are used more than any toy.
(2) Ask for classes/memberships to museums as a gift.
(3) Don't have large birthday parties. Have people over, but not for a gift-giving situation. (Even I ignore invites that say "no presents" so I am not sure how well that strategy works in real life.)
(4) Don't feel guilty about blessing someone else with what you've been given as a gift. People have every right to buy what they want as a gift, but you are never obligated to keep it.
(5) Keep a catalog like Nova Natural Toys around. Sometimes people just don't realize how gorgeous non-commercial toys are.
(6) Be grateful. I don't have these gift issues with my family, but I've heard friends complain about how their parents aren't "allowed" to buy clothes for the baby because they don't pick cute outfits. I don't get it-- why not just say THANK YOU and then move on?
Thanks for those tips! We are encountering our first "selective" toys birthdays! And I am having a hard time deciding what to do about this! We are only having a VERY small party for my ds's 3rd birthday. Only close family members, I was trying to think of ways to "word" it kindly that we would enjoy a zoo membership for ds much more than any toys!

I hope it is ok that I jumped in We are not toy free, but I am in the process of going through my dc's toys to get rid of the plastic/battery operated toys..And we are slowly replacing them with quality, more natural toys but the # of toys is going to be significantly less than we have now!
post #52 of 196
Zoebird, I hear you, we've gone through the struggles with trying to get relatives to understand what we don't want in our home. Recently I've come at it with the MIL through the angle of sharing research - casually mentioning a big lead recall in the news or something and we've had some good discussions. I also wrote up some research in a paper and shared that, I wasn't sure it would go over well but it did. I was very very cautious about how I gave her the paper, said I wrote it up for some friends online and wanted to share it with her. (Its in my blog, one of the first posts titled "article on lead plastics toys etc".) It helps me to remember that my way of thinking is actually very foreign to them and it took me awhile of reading on mdc, and other research to come to my own stance so I try to lead them slowly down that same path with exposing them to thoughts, news clips etc that over time sink in.

Another thought is that this is your first baby right? We had the power struggle with our first - the first grandbaby ever and had to stick to our guns and when it came down to it they didn't see her for a few months because things were strained, we tried talking with them and they got mad but eventually realized we were going to do things our way. DD is almost three and they have a ton of respect for us and how we are raising DD, MIL has commented on my parenting and that she learns from things I do, so when something like the toy issue comes up they might not understand but they respect us for the most part and are trying to learn. Building that relationship takes time but it can be done. Believe me things were really bad there for awhile but wonderful now. Give it time, patience, and lots of explaining calmly and matter of fact... they will come around and respect you in time. Its tough though to be in the middle of it and wanting understanding.
post #53 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mizelenius View Post
Thinking about this more . . .

I don't think toys are inherently wrong by any stretch of the imagination. I think a toy is anything that one plays with. Take a box. If my child plays with it, it becomes a toy, and there is nothing wrong with that: my child is playing with a toy.

For myself, I also think limiting toys by materials or the way it operates (like batteries) isn't quite right, either. If my child loves to play with a toy made from plastic (like a Bilibo, a spatula, etc.) then so what? My DD had a little plastic bird that she carried around endlessly when she was 2. She slept with it, put in the stroller, and wanted to learn everything about it from a bird book (it was a Cockatiel). Should I have taken it away-- her prized bird-- and instead have handed her a wooden one?

I do not subscribe to the idea that toys must be purposeful, because that is imposing an adult's perspective on a child. Who are we to decide what is purposeful? For example, my oldest loves her fox stuffed animal. Is it "purposeful"? Well, not to me, but for her it is. She brings it everywhere, has learned about red foxes, has made things for it out of recycled things, and makes up stories about it. To me, that means the fox has helped her play, and when she plays, WOW does she learn.

The toys with batteries I do not find horrible, just a waste of money for the most part. I don't think the toys with batteries we have (though I admit, these have almost 100% been gifts) have affected the imaginations of my children. They couldn't, because they haven't played with them very often!

I think there are bigger problems (as mentioned on this thread) than toys themselves and what toys are made out of, which come from excess. Excessive amounts of toys (and everyone has their own definition of excess!) is what leads to a loss of time and money. Children can get overwhelmed. Play spaces can become inaccessible. Too much of anything at any age can lead to feeling empty and always wanting more. Why impose that on our children?

My biggest obstacle is gifts. People give very nice items, but the truth is . . .my children don't play with most of them, even the pretty natural ones. I would just like less stuff overall in our house!
I totally agree with this. My son doesn't not have a ton of toys, he has two small bins that are filled with a variety of toys, mostly stuff that peaks his interest with lights and music (he is 10 months old). He also has stuffed animals that he loves because he can flop them around and they don't hurt him. In no way does my allowing him to have plastic "commercialized" toys make me a lazy or negligent mommy.... I love that he is exposed to all sorts of different things! Perhaps he will be a well rounded child with an appreciation for toys of all types!

We are minimalists by nature, we don't have tons of stuff, but every bit of what he does have he plays with and over the last few months he has learned to play by himself instead of relying on me to entertain him all hours of the day! It's helping him become independent and self-reliant which can only help him as he grows older!
post #54 of 196
mercy:

yes, it is our first child, and both sets of grandparents' first grandchild!

both of them have ideas of how they want to grandparent, and of course how we should parent! i'm not surprised, because they also have strong opinions on how we should live in general.

what i find so interesting about my process is that i am finding myself really galvanized to my own position. not to the point of inflexibility, but recognizing just how much influence over my life my parents and ILs have/had because i haven't wanted to upset them, i wanted to keep them happy, etc.

and now, i really just want to "be me" as much as possible so that i can teach my child to just be "him/herself" and not try to pressure that child to "be me."

i mean, it might sound silly or perhaps even subtle, but my furnishing is far more to my mother's tastes than to my own. and my husband discovered that he's in the same boat. some of the things he's held onto are here because of his mother's worldview and not wanting to upset her.

example--we like a clean, zen/scandinavian design approach. we always have. it's just 'our style.' we're minimalists! LOL his mother loves antiques and hordes; my mother likes "traditional home."

when i decorated our home (where we currently live), i went to look for furnishing and thought to invite my mother 'for fun.' my husband and i had a scrapbook of ideas, and i wanted to follow that.

it wasn't my mother's design style at all, and while shopping, she convinced me that other things were "better" and that we would "tire" of the modern/clean look at that it would "look dated" whereas traditional, classic furnishing is "always in style."

well, as i've studied design more, good modern design is also always in style! go figure. and, 'zen design' has been around for a VERY long time.

so, instead of buying what i wanted, i listened to my mother and now my house looks like hers. LOL!

and it bothers me now that i realize this! HA!

and so, of course, i want to make sure that in this aspect, I have that final say, that i'm the one making the choices, not my mother because i want to appease her.
post #55 of 196

I would like to join too

I don't have time to read all the previous posts right now but will come back for support when I need it.

We live in a small home so when people offer to buy dd things or give hand me down's I just say we don't have any more room in our living space right now for more things. My MIL who will buy something anyways I was a little more direct last birthday and said that an outdoor toy would be good. Birthdays include a discussion with invited individuals that we would like no gifts and why. We have gotten dd one toy for holidays or birthdays. I am even rethinking this as she really doesn't play with many of the toys she does have. So instead of thinking I have to get her the right toy I am just letting it go and seeing what she really could use.

She loved the homemade hammock at my parents house so I thought for her birthday coming soon dh could put up the hammock we already have.

I am interested in adding a larger variety of crafts to our current playdough, painting, paper, markers, scissors, pictures, etc.

I think my family is doing well. MIL got dd a birdfeeder for outside for Easter and for Christmas my mom got dd a birdhouse she could paint and then have outside Dd has been adding to the painting since Christmas.

We have gotten a few plastic gifts but they are outside. A water table for example. We'll see what this birthday brings.
post #56 of 196
Oh, a birdfeeder is a great gift idea! So far I've seen zoo memberships or clothes mentioned, this is another great non-toy thing to add to the list. Along with books of course, hm... and art supplies... see, there are plenty of options. (talking to the grandparents..)
post #57 of 196
well, i do have one thing moving forward for us. my mother and my MIL were completely disturbed by the various reports about the problem with products coming otu of china--clothes and toys and the lot--and both are on board with "natural" toys/clothes etc.

so, i ordered a set of catelogues for both families, so they can have them. my mom said she would use them, even if they're less fun, because afterall, she can't just go and buy things and "taht's frustrating."

she said "now i know why you don't like shopping. once you cut one thing out (such as things made in china), then everything is so limited! you have organic, fair trade, etc, and that really thins things out!"

so funny.
post #58 of 196
zoebird, you may want to get ready to say "pass the bean dip."

(The article was originally written for APers long ago-- now for HSing, but you can use the strategy in general for sticky situations.)
post #59 of 196
i've read the article before; it's funny.

i've done pretty well lwith that concept overall, i would think.
post #60 of 196
Told the boys yesterday that this week we are getting rid of thier plastic toys. they of course asked why and i told them they are going to good will for other boys and girls they are ok with them. I am going to get them wooden blocks and play silks. I was thinking about a sand and water table or what we will use is rice instead of sand. Is that agains the toy free thing. The only problem i have is that it is plastic but it is the only one i have found. My mother gave it to them and that is going to be the only plastic toy in the house. Even the dinosaurs For Jacob that is decoration for Jacobs room is going to be wood. Was wondering what you all think. I want to go toy free but want educational stuff and that is all i could find for a table like that. what do you all think
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Parenting
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › anyone wanna join my toy-free tribe?