You are in a store, your toddler gets super excited for a toy, it’s crazy expensive, but you are sure she will play with it Till the End of Time. You come home, your todd plays with the her new toy for a bit and then ignores it for the Rest of Eternity. And it’s not just this particular toy. Sometimes it feels like you need to buy new stuff on a daily basis just to keep things interesting. Sound familiar? Probably. Is that the way to go? Definitely not. If you are struggling to keep your kids interested in their toys, then keep on reading!
1. Kingdom of Imagination
Make sure your child has an area in the house where it can play unencumbered. Here it doesn’t have to worry about making a mess, breaking things, touching things it’s not supposed to touch – you know, Grown-up Rules. This is his or her little Kingdom of Imagination.
Presentation is everything. The more attractive the playing area looks the bigger the chances of them wanting to play there. We use a cupboard and little table and chairs from Ikea to mark her little Kingdom. I try to make it look inviting, colorful and fun, but not too overwhelming.
3. Keep it Neat
Nobody wants to cook a nice dinner in a dirty, messy kitchen. Make sure the cupboards are organized, all the toys have their own place and the floor is empty in the morning. Don’t turn it into a shrine though. There is nothing inviting about that.
4. A Spoonful of Sugar
Mary Poppins is so, so wise. Of course you don’t have to clean and organize the playing area by yourself everyday. You can do it together. Make it part of your evening ritual. Your kids will learn to clean up after themselves and they will learn about the value of their toys. Because if you tak care of things, you will start to value them more.
5. Change it Up
When I notice Isaya isn’t playing with certain toys or in her playing area I start moving things around. I have rearranged the living room multiple times over the past year to keep things interesting for her. Sometimes it’s a matter of putting their play kitchen closer to the real kitchen to get them ‘cooking’ again. If you don’t know what to change then sit down on the floor in the area where your kid is supposed to play and observe. Imagine you are a small child, what is inviting about this area? What makes you want to play here? Is it cozy? Is is warm enough? Is it overwhelming or noisy? Or boring? Then make adjustments according to your findings.
6. Not all at Once
Christmas and birthdays mean a lot of new toys for your child. Don’t give them all at once. It’s too much, too overwhelming, which will cause them to lose interest way faster. Store the gifts and then spread them our over a couple of weeks or months.
Sometimes a toy is ‘done’, only to be loved again fiercely after being stored in a closet for a few weeks. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or maybe it’s just that short term memory thing. Rotate your child’s toys. That way that puzzle she made a thousand times will feel brand new after a month in the attic.
8. It’s not about the money
Children don’t need the most expensive toys to be happy. There are a lot of affordable ways to entertain your children. For starters second hand toys are not only gentle on your wallet, they are also beter for the environment. Wooden toys are very sustainable and stay beautiful for years, so can be easily bought second hand. And second, you have a lot of stuff lying around the house that can be turned into a toy. The other day we used a cardboard box and turned it into a castle. Aya loved it.