Calming The Home Environment By Selecting Traditional Toys

Welcome to the March Mindful Mama Carnival: Mindful Mama Challenge

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants have challenges they’ve set for themselves toward becoming more mindful. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Beep beep, flash, whiz, ping! I don’t know about my son, but I can tell you that I have had enough of being surrounded by noisy overstimulating, toys which actually do very little except emit loud noises, voices or flashing light shows. I had always planned on my son only having natural toys. That is, toys made of wood, metal and natural fabrics, which are open ended, aid imagination and encourage exploration.


Then he had a Christmas, a birthday, another Christmas. People so generously bought him gifts but despite my strict guidelines, these toys began to slip through the net. And what am I to do, he loves them so much. Or does he?

These toys are actually not that interesting. You press a button, it revs up and the child’s involvement is just to repress the same button, or perhaps a different one to repeat the outcome. I must admit they are great as a temporary distraction, especially when a feisty toddler does not want to get dressed or have their teeth brushed. But they don’t hold his attention for very long. This means he will start one toy up, loose interest and move on to the next, press all those buttons then move on again. Sometimes there are 3 going at once and its enough to drive you (I mean me!) crazy!

I went through all the toys a few months back and stored away all the plastic noisy and unimaginative ones, keeping back our nicest things. A wooden garage with removable ramps and twisty handles. A big basket of books, wooden stacking rings and blocks. Soft rag dolls. Puzzles and shape sorters. All of these things can keep him entertained for long periods of time. He investigates them fully and they keep him interested as he continues to discover new uses for them. I set out areas using Waldorf techniques, uncluttered shelves and fewer toys.

It became a very calming environment. But it didn’t last long. The rest of the toys were stored away upstairs in the same room as the tumble dryer. Each time I went in to sort the laundry, my son would bring another toy back out with him again, until eventually, they were all back in our living areas.

I could give up and surrender to these uninspiring toys. But they go against my whole parenting approach, that is, to be as natural as possible. Nurturing this passion for blinky, noisy flashy things is only going to lead to a child who is obsessed with technology, lacks in imagination and is distanced from nature and REAL raw materials.

So I am biting the bullet and over the next month will be selling off these toys and in their place finding a few more traditional and natural play things. I don’t plan on a complete plastic ban as some of them do have multiple uses and keep his imagination fresh, but anything with a battery that has no real function is going. As a hoarder this challenge will be tough but I expect the calm serenity of our home to bloom and the overall effect to be positive.

Some good reasons to choose natural over plastic and battery operated toys -

*Environmentally friendlier

*Better quality, longer lasting

*Open ended, aid imagination

*Healthier – no harsh chemicals that are found in plastics such as BPAs and other phthalates

*Avoids overstimulating which can result in irritability and behaviour issues

*Enhance the child’s attention span and focus.

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Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

10 thoughts on “Calming The Home Environment By Selecting Traditional Toys”

  1. This is an ideal that can be so difficult to maintain!

    We have what seems to be an insane amount of toys – and so few of them have actually been purchased by us! I can very much see the value in paring things down (though it looks like it will need to be an ongoing process…).

    Thank you for sharing your very inspiring challenge!

  2. I’ve always been a little bit on the ‘outs’ with the natural parents who espouse the belief that all plastic toys are bad. But like you, I don’t have electronic toys for my children to play with–no vTech readers or toys with buttons or supposedly educational concepts with lights and buzzers and such. However, we love our Duplo blocks and our Littlest Pet Shop figures and even our Barbies. And just because we don’t play with electronic toys, doesn’t mean my children don’t use technology: I let my 3 daughters (ages 8, 6 and 4) use my very nice digital camera and my flip-cam. I figure if they are going to use electronics, they should use them as a TOOL and not as entertainment.

    Your post is very thoughtful and I enjoyed reading it.
    Much joy to you and yours!

    1. That is why I think Brad Pitts production caompny has a brilliant name…. “Plan B”Just in case the whole acting thing doesn’t work out for him!

  3. Good luck! We all start off with good intentions – I never wanted my boy to have plastic toys either nor eat junk/sweets, but then the gifts kept coming and coming! Now he’s 4 and he knows exactly what he wants – a mix of toys. My husband made him a beautiful wooden garage which sits alongside a plastic fire station – he loves and plays with both. One thing I learnt when people kept giving him (and now my other two babies) crap, is that it’s all only temporary. Plastic breaks and gets thrown in the recycling bin. The other thing, is that as a mum, sometimes you just have to let layers of control melt away and put their happiness first. I admire your good intentions xx

  4. I really appreciate the value in having toys that are open ended and aid in imagination. I like silence, too, so we work toward a balance with simple toys that kids can play with imaginatively. Thank you for sharing your experience, it is likely quite common. :)

  5. Like you, I began with the intention of only allowing natural, traditional toys into our home. And, like you, the plastic, flashy, noisy toys have crept in. Although, the batteries somehow manage to disappear from most of them before they make it into the house ;)

    I find that, given the choices, my kids always gravitate toward the open-ended toys. They make costumes, have sword fights, and imagine adventures with the toys that don’t “fill in the blanks” for them. Some plastic, noisy toys stay, like Star Wars helmets and lightsabers. But, anything that doesn’t hold their interest, gets donated-and they never notice!

    Mindfully, choosing what is allowed in your home in an ongoing practice, one that I am working on, as well. My blind spot is books, but I can’t say no and can’t get rid of a book. Maybe most fo the board books will go, once my youngest is older ;)

    Thank you for participating in this month’s Mindful Mama Carnival.

  6. I love this! I had the idea of keeping natural toys as a rule as well…but like someone else said so many things are gifted to us without asking. I loved it when most of our toys were books, a wooden doll house and accessories and musical instruments. I do believe a child’s imagination, communication and cooperation can be greatly strengthened by more natural toys and I would imagine you’d have a lot of rewarding proof of the benefits of paring down on the excess toys. I wish you luck and certainly want to get there again myself, but my chosen challenges for now a bit different.

  7. You bring up some wonderful reasons to have more natural toys! Not to mention we don’t fill the landfill! Thanks for these ideas!

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