• Hollyanne Simon

Let Them Play (even if the toys aren't wooden)

(Audio Version Down Below) There is so much pressure for us mamas on social media. Everything from what our kids are wearing, eating, watching/not watching, and especially when it comes to the toys they are playing with and the activities they are doing. My degree is in Child and Family Development from SDSU, and before I had children of my own I spent years teaching, writing curriculum, coming up with activities, buying toys, etc. I learned about all different types of toys, play styles, activity stations and more. I believe that the type of play is much more important than what the child is actually playing with. So many toys can be open ended...they don't need to be wooden or organic. Every toy can be expanded upon. Every child is different. What overstimulates one child may not overstimulate another. One child may be really excited about building whereas another child would rather color. Many of the toys we have that light up, have a screen, or play music...I have seen my boys do incredible things with such as stack blocks on top of them, try and balance them on top of one another, sing along with the songs and more. My two year old can count to 20, knows all his shapes visually and by name, and knows all of his letters visually and by name. A big part of that came from the leapfrog laptop which is one of his favorite toys. He knows the melodies of all of the songs. When it names the animals, he will run and get the animal that it says. Just because it has batteries does not mean children cannot expand on what the toy does with their imagination and creativity. He is very musical and the rate he memorizes toys music, sounds and the order everything plays in is quite astounding. Does he also love building? Yes. Does he also love creating shapes with his wooden rainbow? Yes. But in our home we do not stick to one genre of toys as we believe there are good things and amazing learning opportunities from all toys! Comparing children is never a good idea (besides medical professionals), when it comes to personalities, likes or dislikes, temperament and developmental milestones. Every child is different so we can't say, "these toys are the best" or "children should not play with these types of toys". I have seen so many infographics comparing wooden toys to plastic toys and then listing why the wooden ones are better. As a mother it can leave me feeling not good enough or questioning if my child should be playing with those types of toys. Thankfully I know better but I think this way of thinking and spreading information is so toxic and quite frankly is shaming Mothers for what they do and do not purchase for their littles. Before having my boys I knew I wanted them to love playing independently and I wanted to provide them every opportunity to do so. That to me is much more important than what they are playing with. Of course there are some incredible toys out there but I truly believe almost all toys can be open-ended, even if they are plastic or light up and play music. We have a wide range of toys in our home and when I say wide, I mean W I D E. Like, my husband says if one more toy enters our house it will explode...type of wide. Can anyone relate? We have everything from wooden toys that were my grandfathers, trendy aesthetically pleasing toys from small shops or even some from Amazon, to the leap frog light up books and laptop, to every single little people play-set they have ever made (not exaggerating), to wooden building blocks, plastic building blocks, endless amounts of books, balls, plastic animals, dolls and pretty much everything in between. My boys love all of it. Imagination can be seen in children playing with all types of toys, not just Montessori or Waldorf toys. Putting pressure on moms to buy certain types of toys or saying that these toys are better than another is just bad information. If your child is easily overstimulated or you prefer those types of toys that is of course okay, but not every child is like your child and not every family is like your family. It is fine to prefer a certain style of toys over another, but shaming another parent who has different toys than your child or saying that these toys are better than my opinion...needs to stop. I think it is also important to remember many families do not have the financial means to purchase all the ‘instagram worthy’ organic-New-Montessori-Neutral toys. So lets stop saying that is a must have. Kids are happy with a water bottle, and Walmart toys aren’t the devil. Children can build with things they find around the house like plastic cups, play kitchen with things from the kitchen or play with a container filled with water. Second hand toys are always amazing too including things you may find at a yard sale. Last weekend I got the boys two big bags of little soft plastic cars which they love (and have been now discontinued), and they are thrilled with them. When it comes to children's imagination, the opportunities are endless. Something I do each day when cleaning up after the boys have gone to bed is rotate their toys out. Each day they play with different toys and read different books. It would be impossible to put out everything they own, but this way they are constantly working on different skills and using their imaginations with wide ranges of toys and activities. It is a great way to make a few toys go a long way as well. At the end of the day you know your child best. If your kid prefers the leap frog laptop over building blocks that does not mean they are unintelligent, screen addicted, and going no where in life. We have a mixture of toys in our home and the boys are happy, healthy, learning and thriving. Every child is amazing in their own way. Lets not limit them, and don't forget, you are doing an amazing job with what you have, Mama! **For those of you that may be looking for some toys for your littles or some activity ideas, check out my Amazon storefront. I have everything on there that I have gotten from Amazon (including the shelf and rug in the photo). We also have toys from small shops, Walmart, yard sales, and more!

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