getting new toys/ keeping a toddler inspired and having fun - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-30-2012, 09:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel like I always want to get my 25 month old new toys. And then I feel like I buy too many and sepnd too much money on them! We try rotating them- but after a few months of playing with them, I start to feel like he needs new ones. So I spend the money and get excited and they are fun for a while and then get boring and I am in the same place with it again. I am there right now- thinking I need new toys.

I think some of it is because I don't get him to play with other toddlers as much as I think he needs to. I try, I make effort- but sometimes it doesn't happen as often as I want it to. So then I wonder if he gets- not bored, but understimulated.

 

I have an ideal of how I would like our days to be- every day going to a park and meeting up with lots of other kids- but our reality is the only park around here is a school park so we only can go in afternoons (or in summer I guess we will). We have a few toddler friendly activities in the week but not every day. We interact with other people on some level eveyr day, but with other kids in kid friendly things maybe 3 days a week. (2 of which require a 20 minute drive each way)

I am reaching out to other parents of toddlers and starting to try to connect more., But the reality is that some days, like today- it is me and my toddler- just trying to get through the day and have fun. and we may not see other kids. So then I feel like I need him to have lots of new toys. I don't know of a good selection of thrift store toys where I am so I tend to get new ones off of amazon and it does add up. I am always feeling like- oh, he needs this and that and that. 

So how often do you get new toys for your toddler?

Does your toddler play with other kids most days?

do you think a 2 yr old can be happy just hanging around with mom a lot of the time?

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Old 04-30-2012, 10:06 PM
 
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Hi Snap!

 

My toddler is almost two and she seems to love hanging around with mom. Like you, I try to get us out daily- we have lots of things close by, luckily, and lots of (older) kids in the neighborhood. We do the children's museum, sign class, books and babies at the library etc. But some days it's just the two of us for really long stretches. She loves to read with me, loves to get on her tower and pretend to cook, help me fold laundry, water play at the sink, read more books. She's not much into toys after the original novelty is gone. She has started playing a bit more with her baby doll, and Mr Potato head can keep her going if she doesn't get mad.

 

I don't think new toys would make our days better if she only spends 20 minutes on a new toy. Does your kiddo like books? That's probably what we spend most of our time on during the day. She's very interested in letters and we are learning sign.

 

Do you have anybody you could do a toy swap with?

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Old 05-01-2012, 05:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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toy swap is a good idea . . . my little guy is not so into books- he is really into trucks and bikes- active play

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Old 05-01-2012, 12:29 PM
 
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I rotate my own toys. I move the basement toys upstairs and some of the bedroom toys to the basement. I put some toys in boxes in the attic, especially the play tent, and tend to pull those out when the stuff hits the fan or we have a rough week ahead.

I try to only buy new toys when they're on sale or clearance and then I stash those as well. I usually have a decent sized bag o' stuff in my bedroom closet reserved for those days when things are off the hook.

Also, a new tub of play dough makes a world of difference when my dc are bored and it's rather inexpensive especially if you make your own.

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Old 05-01-2012, 01:25 PM
 
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Snapdragon,

 

DD1 was always bored, always understimulated, couldn't entertain herself. DD2 Can sit in a mud puddle for 40 minutes talking to a leaf. So some of it is personality!

 

I joined a moms club this year. (momsclub.org) I'm not a joiner but I didn't know how to find friends for her. That's one suggestion.

 

Mine is 22 months - she is ok hanging out with me a lot but she gets lonely. I've been sick the last couple weeks so no play dates and I can tell it's hard. She is pretty happy exploring outside though, and we have a community garden plot that we go to now every day. She loves to look for worms. On a normal week, I try to organize a play date at least one day. However, I usually also take her to the gym 1-3 times a week, where there is a supervised play area for kids, for about 45 minutes.

 

As far as toys, I am terrible this way. I don't have much extra cash to buy new toys, and I have been too overwhelmed to look for hand me downs. I feel like she's bored with her toys and I don't know what to get. DO you have a local freecycle list? If you get on that, it's a great way to get toys people are unloading. Also, it's spring, so the yard sales will start! I did just make a batch of playdough, and she's a bit confused by it, but it will prove fun as she gets older. She is really into books, and loves to listen to music and dance.

 

We do try to play outside almost every day, and I take her to the park a couple times a week usually. Maybe you can dig up an area of your yard as a mud pit?

 

For us, I find that if I have something for us to do most days (library, playdate, park, gym, errands), then on the days we are home alone all day, it's not so bad.

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Old 05-01-2012, 04:01 PM
 
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Not sure how relevant this will be, but I'll weigh in anyway.  My DS is 21 months and in daycare full time, so yes he does play with other kids every day and run around outside.  I will be 100% honest and say I do not have it in me to be with him 24/7.  On weekends we very occasionally have a play date, and they are really more for me than him.  He doesn't really play with the other kids at the park either.

 

When I'm faced with entertaining him for an entire day we'll often go out in the back yard if I'm not up to a trip to the park.  I use the term 'yard' loosely.  We don't have grass.  We rent a house and it's just a patio and dirt back there.  But he's got a sand/water table and a toddler "merry-go-round", both of which came from craigslist and he uses occasionally.  I've considered watching for one of the play tower/slide combo things so he can climb on it.  I kinda wish I got the one I saw last summer.  Mostly he walks around poking the dirt with a stick or collecting rocks LOL  Will your toddler play by himself at all?

 

Alternately we play chase.  Over and over again.  And then some more.  Inside or out.  "I'm gonna get you!!" is his favorite game, hands down.  I stopped buying toys because he rarely played with them.  Today when I dropped him off at daycare I didn't even say goodbye because he and a little girl were just running in circles around a 3rd child.  I guess that's playing together, but I've seen him run around a box in my bedroom (leftover from moving.  still.) over and over by himself.


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Old 05-01-2012, 06:01 PM
 
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If you keep buying toys and they keep getting boring, then I think you might have to blame the player rather than the playthings.  Honestly, I think some kids just aren't that good at playing with toys at this age.  My daughter is 25 months old, too, and she plays with her toys WAY less than I would like.  When I DO buy her toys, I've been trying to focus on things with a wide age range, so I know we'll get good use out of them some day, even if she only plays with them for a few minutes at a time right now.  To be honest, I feel like there hasn't been much time for play in our house lately.  It takes us from 6:30 - 9:30 a.m. to get all our waking up/dressing/grooming/eating/morning chores out of the way (with bits of play interspersed, of course).  Then we head out to hang up the washing most days, which turns into an hour and a half or so of outdoor play, then back inside for me to make lunch, nap, a few mid-day chores, then there's usually some sort of errand to do in the afternoon after nap, then maybe a bath, cooking dinner, bedtime routine.  I've really been wondering lately when kids get the time to play at all.  Of course, my daughter is always interacting with me, following me around the house as I do chores and stuff.  She'd have a lot more play time if she didn't do that. 

 

How are you with playing?  I feel like DD plays much better with her toys when her dad is home, but he is also a million times better at playing than I am.  I am the world's most uninspiring playmate.  I look at toys and think, "Okay, so...I put the bead on the string.  Now what?"  And that's just how DD acts with her toys when it's just me and her.  That's why I DO like getting her out to see other kids at play as often as I can.  I think it really helps her to watch other kids playing with toys.  It seems like she plays much better on her own after being somewhere with other kids. 

 

The one thing I do instead of buying new toys is to try to give DD novel things to play with as often as I can.  Tonight, for example, I placed a small boutique-style bag in the middle of her playroom.  She will no doubt be totally delighted by it tomorrow morning.  Yesterday she got a rinsed out coffee can for her play kitchen.  An old Consumer Reports is always a hit, an empty box, a spice container...These things collectively get me way more play time than toys. 

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Old 05-01-2012, 07:24 PM
 
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Most 2 year olds, especially young 2's, are going to be more interested in experiences rather than toys. The good news is you can provide these experiences with stuff you have at home or can pick up at the dollar store. Here are just a few ideas:

 

--fill a small tub or cake pan with uncooked rice or dried beans, throw in some measuring cups and spoons

--let him play with your reusable plastic containers and lids to stack, nest, fit together

--on warm days fill a tub with soapy water, a sponge or cloth, measuring cups, his sippys and other random plastic things so he can "do the dishes' outside

--on hot days fill the tub outside with water and ice cubes in different colors made with food coloring

--on cool days take extra long baths with things to fill and dump

--let him finger paint (go outside naked or use water colors if you don't want a big mess)

--give him a stack of paper and some chunky crayons and let him create independently

--make homemade play-do, goop, etc together and let him explore it (there are tons of recipes online)

--give him an empty plastic wipes tub (one with a hole in the top) or tissue box or make a hole in a shoe box and give him toys small enough to fit through the hole (but not choking hazards) or scarves

--use sidewalk chalk and/or bubbles outside

--save plastic containers w/ lids of different shapes and sizes (ie yogurt containers, water bottles, baby soap bottles-run them through the dishwasher) and put them in a basket for him to explore when he wants

--make a basket of hats, socks, mittens (good for items that have lost their match) to try on

--use blankets and pillows to make a fort

--show him how to clip and unclip clothespins around the rim of a container

--give him a small bag or two so he can fill and dump (no fun for Mommy, but important for toddlers) or play bye-bye

 

These are just a few of zillions ideas, google toddler activities or sensory activities or check Pinterest for more. 

 

The point is, toddlers want to experience things and it is easy and cheap to provide them these experiences when you start thinking outside of the toy box. And, yes, I think a toddler can be perfectly happy just hanging around with you all day, it is probably his preference. Toddler don't really socialize in the traditional way. They engage in parallel play with doesn't involve or really need a "friend."

 

It is also really important for him to have time everyday for independent play. Give him a new activity, engage with him for a minute or two, then tell him "Mommy will be right over here reading my book (or doing the dishes, whatever)." and let him play by himself. If he is used to always being engaged with you, it may take a while before he is ok with this, but be persistent and extend the time as he is happy. Watch how his play is different when he is playing by himself. He will be (again maybe not right away) focused and exploring, playing in ways he won't when he is with you. This is when the hard core learning is happening.


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Old 05-01-2012, 07:32 PM
 
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My 23mo isn't that interested in toys either. She's quite keen on household items though. She'll often go and get things out of the kitchen cupboards or tins out of the pantry to stack.

She also *loves* drawing and painting although she needs constant supervision so she doesn't draw on walls or furniture. And she only really likes painting on her body so painting always means a bath afterwards.

She likes being outside too and we don't have to go far. She will happily potter around on the driveway and nature strip for ages. We live on a quiet close though so it may not work if you live on a busy street.

Water is something else she loves. Pouring water between containers, using a squirty bottle and a cloth to wipe walls or furniture etc.

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Old 05-01-2012, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for the responses and good ideas. Ds is pretty good at independent play. I am not sure that he gets bored with his toys- I think some of it is my projecting it. I am still trying to discern that! I think some of it is me trying to find my own boundaries with buying stuff for him, more than that he is bored. He doesn't seem bored. I just try to figure it out on those days when we have nothing going on- is he getting enough. I think he is.  We do have some gardens and we go out and dig. We have lots of stuff to do- I just have days when we are home all day when I wonder if he needs more to do some days. I do take him to play places and music class as often as I can. And we play outside a lot. Guess I am just clarifying that it is not that ds is seeming bored- more that I am trying to find my own boundaries and figuring it out, and trying to asses the social and playing needs of a 2 yr old.

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Old 05-01-2012, 07:56 PM
 
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OP- I think it is a very valid lesson for children to learn that we aren't always out and about going and doing. There's housework to be done, laundry, phone calls, relaxation time that all require our being at home. I think it's a valuable lesson for children to learn to entertain themselves while mom or dad are busy with other work.

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Old 05-01-2012, 08:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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casha's mommy- I totally agree. For me though, I see that ds really likes to keep busy- to explore a lot. He can be pretty content playing with his toys for a while, but he generally likes to have his hands in something, exploring.  I do sometimes give him beans to scoop and other things that make a mes sin the kitchen. And we do  lots of activities- but for those times when I need to do other things, I like to have things to keep him occupied and entertained.  Otherwise he opens the fridge and tries to empty the contents, or just generally tries to explore his world and be hands on in it. So I try to find things for him to have to explore and play with that are good and don't trash the house.

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Old 05-02-2012, 10:00 AM
 
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Snapdragon, I completely understand. 2yo ds would climb on the kitchen table at 18mo if he was bored and investigating. He'd move a bucket of blocks across the floor in order to use the bucket as a stool to reach something up high. He too was a frige emptier. I don't know how he was able to get that frige open but he did so I started putting only things he could "play with" within his reach and let him at it. This led to ds helping me put groceries away. He knew how to open the drawers so I just told him what went in the drawers and as long as it got put away I could always rearrange later. Another favorite activity for him was to take all the lids from my jar collection and pull all the jars out of the cabinet next to it and try to figure out which lids fit with which jars. When I need a lid or a jar now I can show ds which item I have in my hand and he can get me it's counterpart. I guess you can say I've harnessed some of his business. lol

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Old 05-02-2012, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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casha- yeah, ds is 25 months and he has started liking to help me with things. Today he helped me carry recycleable cardboard to the car. He likes to try to sweep, and to bring me things and help put them away. I encourage it for sure.

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Old 05-02-2012, 12:19 PM
 
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So how often do you get new toys for your toddler?

 

**Dd gets toys twice a year, for Christmas and her birthday. I found kids this age don't really need toys, that's why I don't buy too many. Each time we buy a new piece of furniture, the kids play with the cardboard boxes for weeks. Ds is very crafty and we have plastic flowers and paper fans and frogs and planes all over the house. They also like to collect sticks and rocks whenever we go for walks. Not to mention raiding the neighbours' lawns for dandelions. Today I spent an hour kicking a ball with dd and another hour blowing bubbles.

In the meantime her new kitchen set ($ 100) from grandma and ds's collection of Transformers (another $ 100) are collecting dust.

 

Does your toddler play with other kids most days?

 

**She is around other kids most days, we go to the park almost daily, library, indoor playground, the pool. And she has her older brother.

She likes to be around kids, but she doesn't interact with them often, which is normal at this age. Except for her brother.

 

do you think a 2 yr old can be happy just hanging around with mom a lot of the time?

 

**Yes. And we don't even have to try to entertain them too much.


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Old 05-02-2012, 01:35 PM
 
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Maybe you should think of "new" rather than just "new toys." Most kids like routines but a bit of "new" spice is great for parents and kids alike.

Look around and shift the space. Make sure you visit the library once a week. Add new books to your collection rather than just toys. Work on some longer term art projects. There are lots of toddler activity books.

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Old 05-08-2012, 04:56 AM
 
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You might be interested in this article / review of a book (Simplicity Parenting) which discusses "less is more" concerning toys and toddlers.

http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/2012/05/motherhood-mondays-simplicity-parenting.html


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Old 05-08-2012, 05:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Good Blog sunrise, and thanks for the suggestions everyone. Trying to find my balance in this con sumerist culture.

One thing is I do always keep our play (and other) spaces uncluttered- I move stuff away and clear it out a lot. I still do get probably too many toys but not probably compared to an average American, just maybe more than ideally.

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