Friday, 19 October 2012

Expensive Toys vs Household Objects

Money makes the world go round.

It's a shame, but we all rely on money to survive. Almost everything has a price tag, and so most of us have to juggle our finances every month to make sure we've got food on the table, petrol in the car and suitable clothes on our backs.

Throw children into that mix and suddenly your bills sky rocket.

Rock n Roll Queen
Nappies, milk, cleaning products, medicines and a constant necessity to replace their ridiculously quickly outgrown clothes, all form part of a parent's monthly outgoings. On top of all that, you get the urge to treat your kid as well, to shower them with new toys, books and games. We don't need to do that, strictly speaking, but we want to.

What us parents fail to recognise, however, is that the kids don't need that either. They are perfectly happy playing with their current stockpile of toys, and new ones just make their day so much busier (they must ask themselves "How am I supposed to play with all those toys in one day?").

What I've noticed just recently, is that they often don't even need toys to be happy.

For years I've heard the old saying that all children need is an empty box to have fun, or that they prefer the paper the present you lovingly bought them was wrapped in to the present itself. I always took that with a pinch of salt, as my adult eyes see toys as far more entertaining (see Oh, To Be A Kid Again... to see what I mean), but it really is true.

Lydia has recently surprised me by happily occupying her time with household objects, that I personally find quite boring. For example, I moved her bean bag into the kitchen the other day while I was cooking (so she wouldn't get upset at me not being in the same room as her), and gave her some of her books to read. Lydia sat down with the books for a minute or two, then got up to start going through the cupboards. "Oh no," I thought, "That didn't last long", and fully expected her to get bored and start whinging at any moment.

Kettles are fun, Daddy!
Instead, Lydia found an old, plastic kettle in the cupboard, took it out and sat down on her bean bag. She sat there clutching the kettle for at least 20 minutes, occasionally getting up to try and wind the cable back in a bit.

Bathtime has traditionally been a bit of a handful for us as well, as Lydia has always wanted to stand up and move around the whole time, throwing plastic ducks and boats wherever she wants. This all stopped last week when she sat quietly in the middle of the bath holding onto a bottle of baby shampoo and a washcloth.

She sat calmly like that for the whole duration of her bath, and then repeated the trick for each bathtime since. The ducks haven't moved from their basket for a while now!

For me that just goes to show that kids don't need lots of toys to entertain themselves. They are perfectly happy playing with household objects, whether it's through finding some kind of intrigue in an old kettle or comfort in a soggy washcloth.

And this is excellent news for our budget as well, as it will help us keep our spending down.

I think for Christmas I might give her an old washing up bottle, an empty toilet roll and a shoe box (minus the shoes). Ho ho ho!

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