Bust Toy Boredom
As we approach another Midwest summer we might find ourselves complaining it’s too hot for the kids to get outside! What can we to do on these extreme temperature days when our climate doesn’t always allow for outdoor activities? As a culture, we often give in to the more, more, more idea, the idea that if our children are complaining about being bored, well then, they must need more or different toys. This isn’t necessarily the case however. Sometimes we all need a little shake-up to keep things interesting!
Clear the clutter
Take a few moments one day when your children aren’t around, grab a trash bag and start clearing. Start with games, toys and puzzles that are missing pieces or broken. If your children are of the age where they can help, this can be a great process in which to involve them. Pay attention over a span of a few days or weeks to what toys your children consistently play with and which ones they don’t touch anymore. Brittney, a mom of four, says, “To be honest, we have very few toys, just because the more kids I’ve had, the more I realized they lose interest in them quickly. I’m quick to get rid of anything I haven’t seen used in a while.”
Back to basics
Suzanne, a Prairie Village mom of three, shares, “I put everything away and only leave out a couple things, such as blocks, books, paper with pens, pencils and crayons. They usually end up doing something really creative and playing well together.” When making toy purchases, try to stick to items that are open-ended and leave many options for your children. Consider toys like blocks, Legos or Duplos, art supplies, MagnaTiles, cars, trucks, dolls and trains.
Consider a toy swap
Have you ever thought about getting together with a friend or small group of friends and hosting a toy swap? Why not even offer to host?! Blogger Mique, from ThirtyHandmadeDays.com, suggests deciding on a guest list, choosing your exchange rules, displaying the toys clearly, swapping using a system similar to a white elephant exchange, then donating the leftovers. Easy peasy, and everyone walks away with something new for their children.
Rotating toys is another way to keep things fresh. In our home, I switch out books based on season or theme, and toys will rotate around from kids’ rooms, to playroom, to basement. Sometimes just changing out toys every few weeks or months can help keep boredom at bay.
Think outside the box
Audrey, a mom of three, says, “Besides rotating toys, I also encourage my children to play with their toys in new ways. We have made a library checkout desk with big brick blocks and we play with the toys in a different area of the house. Somehow setting up all the Barbie house items in the front room instead of the dollhouse is more popular!”
Sometimes instead of being so focused on toys, encourage your children to be active. Let youngsters build a fort out of the couch cushions, set up an obstacle course or practice their gymnastics. Brittney changes things up when the toys aren’t cutting it by “putting on a YouTube dance video or kids yoga/fitness video to get the wiggles out, or just playing some Kids Bop to get them moving.”
Scrap your to-do list and just join in with your kids! Everyone’s mind and imagination is different, so don’t be afraid to show your children a new way to play with their toys. Let the Star Wars figures take over the dollhouse (this has happened in our house!), use the stuffed animals as a vet’s office, build a house for dinosaurs out of MagnaTiles and so on. Seeing how different people can play with the same toy a myriad of ways is mind-expanding!
Two things are certain: This summer will have miserably hot days where you will be spending more time than you want indoors, and your children are guaranteed to hit a rut with their toys. The good news is now you have a few tricks up your sleeve to keep even the most loved toys fresh and fun!
Julie Collett writes from her Overland Park home. She likes to keep things interesting with her four children and has tried some of these same ideas too!