The Minimalist Toybox
Over time, I have developed a funny rule when it comes to my kids’ toys. It might look a bit different than what you might see in many other households. Though, it isn’t until an outside observer notices these eccentricities that I realize, ya, we’re weeeird!
So, ya. I only let my kids have two relatively small baskets of toys.
A friend with a baby on the way was recently quizzing me on my two basket rule. She has an impeccably designed home that I can’t imagine adorned in primary-colored plastic, so I wasn’t surprised at her curiosity.
J: “Two baskets? Does that include Legos?”
J: “Does that include art supplies?”
Me: “No.” (Those stay out of reach for safety and sanity.)
J: “Stuffed animals?”
It also doesn’t include books, and a couple of bulkier items like floor puzzles, the beloved magnidoodle, and well…that’s about it.
If all goes well, the toys are almost never actually in the baskets during waking hours. And our living looks just as much like a “tormato” hit (my 3-year old’s pronunciation) as any other American household.
The reason for this restriction isn’t so they won’t make a mess. It’s simply that I’ve observed over time that when they start to get too many toys, they don’t actually play with them. They get dumped out, yes, and then quickly left for the next option.
Like kids on a perpetual Christmas morning, they wildly go from one plaything to another without ever engaging in that focused, imaginative play that every mama treasures and that is so good for their little brains.
Why I Love Natural Toys
The toys that tend to stand the test of time are…
- Open-ended toys that can be anything in the child’s imagination including Legos, wooden blocks, and other wooden toys. I’ve seen how these types of toys really have grown up along with my kids. They find new ways to play with them at every stage.
- Simple toys like cars and trucks. These have been fun for both my son and my daughter at all ages so far.
- Toys that promote focused play like puzzles and art supplies.
- Art supplies also fall into the category of consumable toys that are in a constant state of getting used up and replaced, so they don’t mount up.
- Musical instruments that they can really play (not just push a button). They’re especially into percussion at this age!
Do they have some plastic toys, yes. Have we had big brightly colored plastic baby-holders adorn our home? Yes. Do they love those just as much? Almost.
But those never last as long or hold their attention as well as more high quality open-ended natural toys.
I recently had the chance to let my kids try out the PlanToys Baby Car.
It is really amazing the attention that has gone into making this particular toy and all the toys in the Wild Mint shop really safe for baby.
This wooden baby car is made with non-chemically treated wood that’s free from preservatives. It was created using formaldehyde free glues, water based dyes, soy and water based inks, and meets a whole list of safety standards.
And I love that it easily fits my criteria for the ideal toy. It is…
- Simple & Open Ended: It can be pushed around like a car, but it can become almost anything in the imagination. In the short time we’ve had the car, it has been used as a car, a butterfly, for counting in both English and Spanish, naming colors, and endless games of “you can’t catch me.”
- Educational: Baby learns fine motor skills as she plays with it, and later it can be used to teach colors.
- Musical: It’s flexible so the colored blocks clack together as the kids play with it.
- Natural: Wooden and made from safe non-toxic materials
Wild Mint Shop has curated an amazing collection of natural toys with a focus on choosing toys that are as toxin-free and eco-friendly as possible.
There are natural toys appropriate for babies right on up through elementary school age. Each and every one that I saw promoted imagination or education. All the toys were also reasonably priced especially considering the durability and amount of enjoyment that they will no doubt see in their lifetimes.
I will also say that almost every toy my kids have has been given as a gift by another friend or family member. However, I can still say that the few dollars extra that they spent to give a natural toy has been well worth the investment.
Now, I won’t be taking all my kids’ toys away anytime soon, but for now 2 baskets full of high-quality natural toys is enough.
What’s the right amount of toys for your family? How do you keep the kid clutter under control? Or do you let the fun reign in this season? Share your thoughts in the comments.