Do you remember when new toys were for birthdays and Christmas? We made do, very happily with the toys we had in between these to major occasions. It sometimes feels easier to just buy something new when our young children get bored with what they have, and our homes end up with unloved toys in every crevice. I’m keen for my son to appreciate the toys he has, to use his imagination and creativity to get the most out of each and every toy, and not to have that ‘throw-away’ mentality which seems so prevalent in Western society today. Here are a few old school ideas to keep up the enjoyment factor of the toys your child already has.
1. Toy Swap – If you are in contact with families who have children the same age as yours, you can organize a regular toy swap to give your little one a variety of toys…at no cost. You will also find that they may gain some renewed interest in their own toys. Agree the terms in advance with the other families, eg. how many toys to swap at a time (one is usually enough) and the timeframe, eg. one week. Get your child to select a few toys they are happy to do without for a while. At the “swap meet” allow your child to chose from the toys the other child is offering. To minimize potential problems, ensure that your tot understands in advance that they are borrowing the toys, and that they will need to be returned.
2. Toy Cleanout – Get your toddler or preschooler involved in a toy cleanout. There are always forgotten toys which have been hidden away behind furniture or under the current favorites.
3. Toy Repair – Buy a tube of your favorite Super Glue and set aside a clear hour to repair all of those toys that have been loved to death.
4. Toy Rotation – Use a large plastic crate with a lid to hide away toys which you notice are currently out of favour. Rotate toys in and out of this box to keep them fresh and interesting for your child. For example, we have 4 different types of building blocks. We rotate these sets so that there are only ever 2 sets out at a time.
5. Toy Upcycle – Upcycling is recycling an object into something else that is useful. It is great fun to get your toddler or preschooler involved in upcycling toys which they are bored with. An easy idea is to add a superhero cape to teddy if your child as become interested in superheroes. A current favorite in our household is to turn bulldozers and aeroplanes into Thunderbirds (60s TV program) by adding stickers that have numbers written on them to make them into Thunderbird 2 etc.
If these suggestions do not quite fill the boredom gap, you could become a member of your local toy library. Your child can try the toys for a short period of time, without you having to buy.