LIFE IS A SPECTRUM / 10 things my kids would rather play with than the thousands of toys they own


I don't get it. Where's the button to make it talk?

I'm absolutely serious about putting a moratorium on toys in our house. This Christmas is going to be different. They're still young enough that spending time with their parents isn't an eye-roll-inducing exercise and I want to focus on experiences this year, instead of stuff.

Maybe we'll create some new traditions – at least one or two – that we'll keep up. At the very least, no more EVIL toys will lurk, hidden, in my home and as soon as the batteries wear out on all the talking toys we own, they're going mute. If anybody wants a doll or train to talk in this house, they're going to have to develop some mad ventriloquism skills.

Besides, few of the toys we've spent good money on even get played with; most are lying around in piles or lurking in the dark, waiting for me to step on them and develop weird lower-case-z-shaped bruises on the bottom of my foot.

No, my kids favorite playthings are the following:

1. The box in which any one of their thousands of toys was once packed – as well as all the other empty boxes and plastic containers in the recycling bin.

2. Our yard full of colorful dry, crispy leaves.

3. Actual pots and pans – so much better than their cute plastic ones that FIT the play kitchen. We keep having to rescue actual kitchen utensils from the sand box. Who knew what a good digging tool a potato masher could be? Actually, until Dave told me, I didn't even know what a potato masher was.

4. Bugs. Willow lies on her stomach next to them, waves and says, “Hi, bug!” to every single one.

5. Sand. Any place. Any time.

6. Water. Ditto. Bath time in our house is part rave, part badger fight.

7. The expensive shutter blinds that used to beautifully adorn each window (installed by previous owner; we're not that stupid) -- until Billy played “Window Circus” (you'll have to ask him) and tried to ride them.


This doll smells funny.

8. Squirrels. Luckily, they can't catch them. We have, though, had a few close calls.

9. Each other.

10. My bras. (??!!)

One big gift we're going to give ourselves is a back yard makeover by our incredibly talented friend Meghan Mick at Design From The Ground Up. Meghan, who blogs at Play of the Land, designs natural play spaces -- for individuals, preschools, churches, community parks, you name it. She uses natural materials and local plant life to create play spaces that inspire imaginations -- and don't require batteries. Check out her gallery of creations; it's breathtaking!

Reader Comments

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I'm blown away by Designs From the Ground Up! What an incredible idea!

I'm with you. The talking toys must die.

All talking toys must die.

Talking toys will be the death of me. They talk when they're not supposed to, and freak me out on a consistent basis.
And seriously- why is it always the BOX that is more fun? And I am very very jealous of your impending new playspace.

Why do I keep falling for it?!

I totally know what you mean! I always see these thinks that I JUST HAVE to have.... for them. And it's always a waste of money. My boys love all the same stuff! Lol, it's better that way, but it's so hard to deny myself the indulgence of buying these toys that I fantasize about them spending endless hours loving. =)

My boys were the same. My youngest is 8 now and only recently he started actually playing with and enjoying all his toys to the fullest.

But if he sees a huge empty box from an appliance all bets are off,lol.

Stopping by to say hi from Sits

What no iPad?

I can't believe you missed another excuse to showoff! At least I don't think it should qualify as a toy per se. Audrey is with you on the sand, water, and squirrels. Bras? Hmmm...only if they're on me.

I hear ya!

Its nice to know I not the only parent with kids that have it out for our blinds. We are currently down to 4 blinds out of 11.

Great Playthings

My daughter likes a lot of those playthings too! Maybe I should forgo shopping for toys and just bring in a bunch of bugs! She'd like that more!

Nah, I don't like that idea.

Enjoy your backyard makeover! That should be awesome!


Goodness! ... from the ground up is designing your back yard! I 'm so jealous. I have no doubt it will look amazing, I love their work :)

Oh I hear you on this list! My daughter was, and still is (at age 9) a lover of boxes. One of her favourite activities as a toddler was to unpack the drawer where I kept towel, cloths and flannels - those cloths used to become everything from hats to dolls. Just lovely to watch :)

We could do sand and water over here all day all the time and the blinds are the main attraction in our new house.
I'm excited for you over your new yard, her designs are amazing!

Baby steps in the yard

Dave said I should probably let everyone know that we aren't having a world-renowned playground installed in our back yard. We don't really have that kind of dough to throw around. But the great thing about Meghan's company is that she can do something as simple as design the layout/plantings so that you can do a lot of the work yourself -- all the way up to the whole kit-and-kaboodle.

We're going to start with a few introductory steps: Rain barrel, butterfly garden, vegetable garden, some pathways with native plants. And slowly add elements as/when we can.

Her whole philosophy is something I really believe in -- the idea that kids NEED to interact with their natural surroundings. It has an amazing calming effect on kids with all kinds of issues.

Hi Amanda:

I love that you're putting the garden in...will satisfy Willow's bug fascination (I have that myself), and their love of water and dirt. It will also give them a feeling of accomplishment if they're allowed to grow their own stuff!


Total 12 comments

The Broadfootsteps of one autistic preschooler, one toddler and the parents who are running to keep up ...

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