Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Importance of Play

I came into the living room this morning and found The Little carefully setting up this play scene on his craft table.

The toys are a mixture from fabulous Etsy stores and Holztiger.

Stacking Elements from
Jalu Toys

It wasn't until The Little was born that I gave much thought to the importance of play. I dutifully registered at Target and Babies "R" Us for supplies and toys - not knowing the evolution and metamorphosis our parenting choices were about to undergo.

gnome friend from

Shortly after The Little was born, there was a huge scare world wide about toxic levels of lead in mass produced toys. I began to look into safe toy choices and found joy, simplicity, and safety in naturally made toys. The more I read, the more I was convinced that natural, open ended toys were the way to go. We slowly began a plastic purge in our home - replacing mass produced toys that often break after one or two uses with sturdy wooden, wool, and cotton toys.

Cow toy from
Imagination Kids

An added benefit on this journey? Since I am the one who is home with The Little all day, it became important that when he asked me to play with him that the toys be beautiful, energizing, and open-ended. I found I didn't want beeping, flashing, talking toys vibrating in my ear all day. The quietness of our home has become a refuge. A safe place to allow our imaginations to take flight.

It doesn't mean that we don't occasionally have a plastic toy wander into our environment. It doesn't mean that I take issue with him playing with plastic toys in other environments. But for our home? I wanted a place without all the loud, glitzy entrapments that the large toy companies would let you believe you need for your child to be healthy, happy and adjusted.

Watching my son set up play scenes, cook with acorns, use a pine cone as a hair brush - these are the things that inspire not only him, but myself as well. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Yours in the joy of natural play,

Simple Mama


  1. An absolutely beautiful post! I agree with you - I don't want the plastic, over-stimulating toys in my house, once I have children. I'll be stocking up on natural toys once it's time for me to be a mom.

  2. I totally, totally agree! We purged a few years ago (more difficult with older kids) but now we all enjoy our nature-based toys and less frenetic environment much better!

  3. Wonderful post! I really liked your honesty about the parenting evolution you went through. We are in the mist of an evolution also!

  4. Great post mama! We are just going through the purging process little by little. It seems to be taking a bit more time than I'd like. Now that Xmas is coming, I tell my little guy that we are getting rid of some more toys so Santa can bring him new ones. The legos are the hardest thing for him to let go of so far.
    By the way, I love that Holtziger piggy. We bought the same one, that is awaiting the stocking :D He's a cute one isn't he?

  5. What a lovely post! I love the honesty of it. We're slowly going through the same purging process now, but am finding myself almost dreading my daughter's birthday and Christmas coming up. Any tips on dealing with well meaning realtives and friends?

  6. Carin, We've been very fortunate that our family has respected our wishes regarding toys. I think it's not so much that family's don't want to follow your guidelines, and more that they don't know where to shop. We're just inundated with plastic junk at the big box stores. Finding natural toys - other than those items in nature that inspire imagination often takes you online as your only option. For some people, a simple wish list, with sites that items can be purchased is helpful. I also really like suggesting memories as opposed to gifts. A family zoo membership, children's museum membership, swimming lessons, etc in lieu of traditional gifts.

  7. Your philosophy is wonderful. It is amazing how little children need and how more meaningful the items become when we choose thoughtfully.

  8. Thank you! Hadn't thought of asking for memberships, etc. That's great!

  9. Such a sweet post. I wouldn't have it any other way either. It's funny how something reasonates so deeply that before children one may not have given much thought to. It's one of the ways our children have helped us to grow into a much more clear space.


  10. Beautiful post. The toy battle is one I am still fighting. I completely agree with you and his toys are beautiful. We are doing better here with purging toys that aren't appropriate - most given as gifts.