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#1 of 18 Old 09-25-2010, 08:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all!

We are fairly new to the Waldorf lifestyle, and are in the process of streamlining DS's toy collection to eliminate/reduce most of the plastic in our home and replace with toys made of natural materials, like those available through Nova Natural and Three Sisters, etc.

My question is this: how did you get extended family "on board" with the idea of giving natural/wooden toys for birthdays, Christmas, etc. I'm not sure that they will understand or even be able to purchase these kinds of toys b/c of cost and the fact that they live in an area where there aren't a lot of toy stores that carry them and they don't shop online.

I hate the idea of DS getting tons of plastic junk as gifts, and then having to give it away. It would be nice to actually get one quality wooden toy as opposed to 12 crappy plastic ones, you know?

Anyone else have thoughts about this scenario? Advice on how to gently suggest to parents and in-laws that we only want a "certain" type of toy...!

Melissa, mama to sweet sons Alexander (11/29/08) and Henry (12/29/10).
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#2 of 18 Old 09-25-2010, 09:03 PM
 
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a few thoughts from what we've done
-site health chemical reasons relastics
-make a "registry" of examples
from my pregnancy on I used a motto I found somewhere: please, no plastic, no pastel...you could create something succinct like that
-ask for no more toys, only books/clothes. kids need far fewer toys than we imagine...dd plays with chunks of a tree we sawed up and finished with beeswax, cups, felted stones, felted ball...
-saying you don't want people to "waste" their money often hits home...I tend to be pretty direct but that would probably be if people weren't rspecting my wishes....not sure if any opf this helps, getting over the guilt is good and not expectuing mucxh from people or that they "go waldorf" but I am newer to waldorf, although I've applied all the ideas intuitively from the get go regarding clothes/toys/gifts. I'd rather be gentle, firm and clear than beat around the bush, but that's me,

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#3 of 18 Old 09-25-2010, 09:07 PM
 
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pm me if you want my letter to relatives as an example. also when they really didn't get it, I would take a pic, send to them and dispose of the item...saying "thanks" then keep reiterating "quality over quantity", "natural materials only" etc etc. but I could see how with an older child this might not work and may cause confusion...(taking pic then taking away, we mainly did this with dd as a babe and with clothes I hated)

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#4 of 18 Old 09-25-2010, 09:15 PM
 
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How about books? Maybe send out a book list for each birthday/ holiday you think they would buy gifts and explain that you don't have space for more toys and books would be very welcome. Affordable fun to share...

Mama to Zach 6-18-04 & Naia 10-13-10 Partner to the sweetest DH. Loving our life afloat. TV Free!
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#5 of 18 Old 09-25-2010, 10:09 PM
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we do the list too, though now my family mostly sends money (because of how far away we are from them). then we purchase the items, wrap them, and the baby unwraps them in front of the grandparents via skype.

we did clothes for his birthday (they sent them from the US), and he was *thrilled* with getting them as gifts. for christmas, we are looking to do a wooden toy from each grandparent that we will buy from a local craftsperson at the craft fair.

some things are less expensive in the US (clothes, shoes, books), and so we do ask them to send those to us. we usually order them (then the grandparents pay us back), and then they ship them to us. it works out well for us. we are able to control everything that comes in. no one wants to waste any money.
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#6 of 18 Old 09-26-2010, 12:02 AM
 
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I try not to sweat it too much

Luckily my Mom/Dad are pretty good at gift giving. They give craft kits or books

My extended family asks and I give suggestions: a lot of times I play it safe and just ask for basics: warm socks, snow boots or something like that.

If we do get something unsavory I either put it on Craigslist to sell OR donate it to a church or something

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#7 of 18 Old 09-26-2010, 12:45 AM
 
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These are great ideas, but if I'd have made a list, several fam members would have blown a gasket!

We limited each child to receive one and only one toy each birthday and each Christmas. This helped in many ways.

1. gma and gpa and aunts and uncles, often want to "pitch in" on the one gift the child REALLY wants, and they nominate someone to call me and ask what that one special gift is... we'll it's this great wooden magnet train set... or one year they all bought different art supplies, and one big basket and gave dd the most awesome art set ever with like everything she could possibly use, and all spent far less money and gave her far more enjoyment...

2. it brings creativity and "time spent" into the relationship. Since gpa already sent a toy, now aunt S is taking him out to feed the ducks and have a picnic for his 3rd bday... (still remembered by him now he's 17, unlike the plastic junky toy that was sent)

3. books, clothes, craft supplies, games, and school supplies (we homeschool) do not count as the one toy-gift, so both the children and the "buy-my-affection" fam members are thinking creatively and appreciating high quality practical gifts

There are many more that have played out, but these are some examples.

blessings
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#8 of 18 Old 09-26-2010, 01:30 AM
 
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We emphasize how much dd loves books, games, and art supplies (and to be honest, she actually doesn't like toys so it's the truth!) but quite often family still will send something cheap and plasticky (I don't mind things like Playmobil, Legos, Schleich, etc.) and those become bath toys (dd is 4.75 so we are past the "donate it because she'll never know phase"). I've heard of other people getting relatives on mailing lists like Nova Natural and Magic Cabin, and that has helped with us a bit, too. I also send unwanted toys to grandma's house (heck, she's the one who buys most of them anyway!).

Allison:  a little bit Waldorf, a little bit Medievalish, and always"MOMMMMYYYY!" to sweet Cecily since 12.22.05
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#9 of 18 Old 09-26-2010, 04:29 AM
 
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UGH! The family got it last year. They lost track. For ds's bday recently, we said not to worry about gifts- hard times, save your money. So, everyone just brought really inexpensive, obnoxious, NOISY toys instead! We've been hearing nonstop "Alphabet Train" for 3 weeks!!! It saddens me that people in my family are still trying to force this stuff down our throats. It annoys me that we are given so many complements about out child rearing, only to have people not listen at all when it comes to the things they give; esp. when we request nothing at all. hmph.
I always suggest books and art supplies, when people ask...
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#10 of 18 Old 09-26-2010, 09:52 AM
 
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[QUOTE=Tashakittie;15883985]UGH! It annoys me that we are given so many complements about out child rearing, only to have people not listen at all when it comes to the things they give; esp. when we request nothing at all. hmph.
QUOTE]

This has been so true for us! Our families always comment on Ds' creativity, imagination, etc but then try to force him to play with their crappy toy in the "right" way or tell him he's doing it wrong.

We began asking people to give donations (and donating ourselves) instead of exchanging gifts before we had kids as part of simplifying our lives. We also don't go to the big family Christmas parties which are totally centered on gifts.

But Ds' recent birthday went great - we asked the guests to bring a special item found in nature for his nature table. It was fun to see what people found and hear the stories behind them all and we got pretty shells, an owl feather, a horseshoe, etc.

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#11 of 18 Old 09-28-2010, 05:19 PM
 
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I keep an Amazon Wish list which includes items from Amazon and all "universal" selections from other websites. My family only buys for birthday/christmas and they buy items on the list. They are happy to buy one item at whatever their fixed budget will be. I do the same thing with the rest of my extended family. My sister usually wants clothes from a specific brand. I admit that I have often "upgraded" her toy requests (or redirect to etsy or a more natural sustainable version) and if she agrees then I get it. But I will buy a kid the specific heart's desire too, even if I don't like it or contribute to a family gift like a Wii or whatever. But I usually try and avoid buying things I don't like.

(I was particularly proud that this year I managed to buy some nice etsy things dolly things in lieu of the junky stuff my niece picked out and found a nice natural wool needle felting kit for another. They both loved their gifts.)

DH's family is a little more difficult and with them, discussion of safety/space/strict age limits/toy volume has worked somewhat. Esthetics/natural/fair trade/handmade does not. My MIL lives two blocks away from a lovely natural toy store that we love and goes out of her way not to shop there or buy gifts from the wishlist. Our relationship is very, very complicated and there seem to be DOZENS of sources of conflict over gifts, everything from wanting to "own" toy catagories to great bitterness because we don't allow licensed products to outright anger that our 3 year old doesn't watch t.v. She trys to push buttons and push the limits all the time. Some of it seems to be that she is close to another family with slightly older children and she buys all their toys. I think she thinks this (and everything it seems) is a rejection of her and a personal attack. I try not to engage if possible.

Our kids are great but nothing about how we raise them is.... banging head on the wall...

I love the idea of adding them to mailing lists.
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#12 of 18 Old 09-28-2010, 05:41 PM
 
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I'm loving hearing these suggestions. My little one is still young enough that we can do the "take the pic, then toss the toy" approach, but one day that will be over!

Just wondering, Has anyone taken the approach of saying that your child's school doesn't allow it? Granted, that's not exactly true, and is sort of a scapegoat approach, but maybe it would spark a dialogue about Waldorf philosophy, etc.

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#13 of 18 Old 09-28-2010, 05:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by babygirlsmama View Post
Just wondering, Has anyone taken the approach of saying that your child's school doesn't allow it? .
Yes, we've brought this up a few times in regards to clothing purchases. We don't buy them anyway but characters are not allowed on clothing or underpants.
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#14 of 18 Old 09-29-2010, 02:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JudiAU View Post
I keep an Amazon Wish list which includes items from Amazon and all "universal" selections from other websites. My family only buys for birthday/christmas and they buy items on the list. They are happy to buy one item at whatever their fixed budget will be. I do the same thing with the rest of my extended family. My sister usually wants clothes from a specific brand. I admit that I have often "upgraded" her toy requests (or redirect to etsy or a more natural sustainable version) and if she agrees then I get it. But I will buy a kid the specific heart's desire too, even if I don't like it or contribute to a family gift like a Wii or whatever. But I usually try and avoid buying things I don't like.

(I was particularly proud that this year I managed to buy some nice etsy things dolly things in lieu of the junky stuff my niece picked out and found a nice natural wool needle felting kit for another. They both loved their gifts.)

DH's family is a little more difficult and with them, discussion of safety/space/strict age limits/toy volume has worked somewhat. Esthetics/natural/fair trade/handmade does not. My MIL lives two blocks away from a lovely natural toy store that we love and goes out of her way not to shop there or buy gifts from the wishlist. Our relationship is very, very complicated and there seem to be DOZENS of sources of conflict over gifts, everything from wanting to "own" toy catagories to great bitterness because we don't allow licensed products to outright anger that our 3 year old doesn't watch t.v. She trys to push buttons and push the limits all the time. Some of it seems to be that she is close to another family with slightly older children and she buys all their toys. I think she thinks this (and everything it seems) is a rejection of her and a personal attack. I try not to engage if possible.

Our kids are great but nothing about how we raise them is.... banging head on the wall...

I love the idea of adding them to mailing lists.
I don't get it, about people, family members, taking toy buying so personally!!!! It seems to be a really common experience for those of us in this counter-culture. Why do outer family member feel rejected that we don't have the same taste in toys for the kids? We don't eat the same things, we don't decorate our homes the same, we don't wear the same clothing, we don't look the same? We live entirely different lifestyles- why would we raise our kids according to the mainstream, cable-tv protocol, if we don't live that way altogether? It really baffles me.
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#15 of 18 Old 09-29-2010, 09:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Tashakittie View Post
We don't eat the same things, we don't decorate our homes the same, we don't wear the same clothing, we don't look the same? We live entirely different lifestyles- why would we raise our kids according to the mainstream, cable-tv protocol, if we don't live that way altogether? It really baffles me.
*sigh* As far as I can tell, my MIL also finds our preferences in natural products (Earth-friendly living, natural body products), clothing (natural colorful fibers that allow for easy movement; cloth diapers), and food (oh dear!) provocative. "What! Now what is wrong with Uncle Bens rice! You always liked it as a kid"

My family just thinks I like to be "different" but don't take it personally. Sometimes I get a bit of an eyeroll or giggle "oh there she goes again" but it isn't offensive.
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#16 of 18 Old 09-30-2010, 03:45 PM
 
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#17 of 18 Old 10-05-2010, 01:03 AM
 
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my dh has been letting me do the buying for our children for the last few years. i usually let him know what i am going to be getting and making for birthdays and christmas. he never thinks it is enough but for the most part we buy natural toys and useful items. that was until last christmas when my dh felt our dd needed toys-r-us toys. it took him forever to figure out what to buy. he went to the toy store a few times and came home with his head spinning. he was on ebay bidding for a sold-out toy. he went to huge lengths out of love, but she barely played with the toys he bought. and he noticed.

of course, i did not want my dh to purchase these items but i bite my tongue because they are his children as well. but it is your house so maybe you could put them away in the garage or something and then if he wants to get it out during his visitation he could. hopefully, he'll soon forget about it.
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#18 of 18 Old 10-06-2010, 03:42 AM
 
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I love the mailing list idea (and just headed over to Nova to get the ball rolling!). Our relationship with toy-buyers is a bit complicated because MIL watches the children while I work. They are very exposed to television and dd is now at an age where she is beginning to ask for certain thigs she has seen in commercials (this nearly keeps me up at night but it is what it is right now). This adds another layer to letting people know what you prefer your children to have.

I'm very direct about what kinds of toys I consider quality. MIL has heard me and she tries a little but still gets the kids whatever she thinks they would really like. I typically return or donate the following day. I think she may come around though and she is never rude or dismissive about it.

I think it's best to be direct. I try to encourage people to spend only what they can and to think of creative ways to honor the kids on birthdays and Christmas. I never want people to feel like I'm asking them to buy the kids something. I would be fine with everyone just wishing the kids a happy birthday or merry Christmas and letting dp and I do the gift-buying.

It is difficult simply because people often don't understand why a noisy gadget may be harmful or unwanted. They cannot conceive of where that desire for natural playthings is coming from.
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