Wednesday, March 7, 2012

All Natural

I've been reading this great book, Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Children by Kim Payne. Isn't that what we all want? Happy, secure and (GASP) CALM children??? The basis of the book is to de-clutter your home and your life. Children don't need things, they need you. They need to know they are loved, they need comfort, discipline and of course food, shelter and clothing. I've started really looking into this since Pyper's last birthday. We requested no toys at her party, instead requested craft items such as play-doh, glue, markers, crayons, coloring books, paint, etc. Everyone pretty much respected our request. Most understood why. Like so many, we had toys coming out of our ears. Containment was an issue. Until we started purging. And we continue to purge. What got me at Pyper's 2nd birthday party was that when she was presented with a gift, she ripped off the paper, peered at what she got, tossed it aside and started on another gift. It was disgusting. One friend and her two sons lovingly made the wrapping paper their gift came in. Pyper didn't even pause to admire the love and workmanship it took to make it, and I only got a quick peek at it. Sad. I am normally very good about writing out personal thank you cards for gifts, but I was at a loss this year because I had no idea who got her what. It was literally a blur. Then came Christmas. It was one of the best Christmases I can remember in a long time. We had a great time playing games, dancing with the kids, cooking, etc. Pyper and Raegan both got toys, but not so many that we needed a U-Haul to bring them home. It was a "respectable" amount for their ages. One gift was this Elmo (below) from mom and dad. Pyper loved it. It sang and danced, played the drums and tambourine. Please note that I am using the past tense. Elmo no longer works. It's just March 7, and this toy that cost $60 is broken. Pyper was very sad, and I was again, disgusted. What has happened to quality???

RIP Elmo, may you sing with the angels.

This toy is a very nice VTech ABC toy given to Pyper at her first birthday. She has played with it maybe 5 times. Again, sad.

Pyper got this computer from her Great-Grannie. An expensive toy that captivates her and holds her attention to the point that she wants to sleep with it. We have had to put it away...far, far, away so that she will actually play with other things, eat and even sleep without the constant lights and beeping.

A few months ago, I posted about unplugging my kids. Unplugging our parenting style. This, I have found, includes uplugging the toys. In the book, Simplicity Parenting, it discusses how less IS more. When you introduce a calm, clutter-free environment for your child, they have more focused and imaginative play. I'm slowly starting to weed out all the toys that beep, light up, talk, sing (how many of you out there would LOVE to never have another annoying noisy toy brought into your house???) and even those that merely require batteries.

I've found with my very limited parenting experience, Pyper prefers the boxes to toys. Bowls filled with dried beans to "make soup." Making forts out of sheets and ladder backed chairs, and playing in the sink or bathtub. She rarely picks up the blinky, battery operated toy (the exception being that crazy and annoying computer!).

This was a difficult decision, and one that I thought a lot about. I have read books and endless blogs on Waldorf style education, Charlotte Mason's methodologies, Montesorri and even classical education. I have taken a bit here and there and leave the rest. I have decided to start buying wooden or natural toys for my children. Not only is the quality superior to those made of plastic (remember Elmo?) but often times they are open-ended and engage her imagination. This is a sticky subject that I try not to discuss too openly, because I get comments about how I'm a tree-hugger and I'm all crunchy now. I guess I am. But that also doesn't mean I'm not appreciative of the gifts we have received. We have been blessed beyond measure with hand-me-down toys and clothes, and gifts. I just know when I'm purchasing the items, it's going to be all natural. Below are some examples.

I just bought this mixer for Pyper from Magic Cabin for 50% off. It will either be one of her birthday presents or Christmas presents. It's made from wood and natural fibers. As much as she loves to cook, I can really see her enjoying this.

I also got her this ironing table with iron from Magic Cabin. Again, 50% off and again, a future present. The one she has, is so low to the ground, she doesn't really use it and wants me to pull her learning tower up to my ironing board.

I got her these blocks a few weeks ago. She really likes them. She and the boys play on the floor and make all kinds of things from them. I love to see her little mind race with possibilities with open-ended toys.

Another epiphany I've had, and I haven't even discussed with Shannon, is to either fore go the birthday parties all together, or request any gifts be donated for needy children at either the Family Resource Center or Toys For Tots.


  1. I am by no means even close to being labeled a tree hugger, and I TOTALLY agree with this. Through the years, I have given away and handed down and thrown away many many many toys due to breakage, too noisy and attention hogging, or just too much clutter.

    My 11 year old son is by no means calm, but he seems very stable after years of dealing with his divorced parents, moving back and forth, and having two homes and families.

    He still prefers to play with STICKS rather than anything else. He will entertain himself for hours outside with a magnifying glass, a pair of binoculars, and a pocket knife.

    1. Thank you, Grace for your kind words. You would be surprised at the backlash I have received from my parenting style. Most is said in good fun, but sometimes, not. I believe less is more. Regardless of socioeconomic, marriage and FB status. :)

  2. We never had parties for v and e except for a family dinner/cake until they were older, then close friends for a sleep over or movie once they were in school. They don't really remember much detail until around 3 it seems.