minimalism · simple living · Slow Living

Simple Playtime

The most recent statistics found that in 2017, the world toy market was worth £89 billion…. I repeat that again, £89 billion!!

As of June 2019, the population was around 7.7 billion.

Do the maths as work out how much is spent on average per person…. The means each year, on average each person spends £10 on toys.

Lets take it further. . .

The estimation is that there are 1.9 billion children. The maths seems much more scary now! Each year a child will receive on average £47 worth of toys. Now that doesn’t seem a massive number, however, considering around 1 million children worldwide live in extreme states of poverty, the numbers begin to rise rapidly.

I am not against toys. In fact, some toys I have great affinity with. Yet I question when toys became the answer to children’s creativity and play. When a toy gun or sword is purchased instead of a stick used. I have a feeling that toys have become a way to keep children entertained in a world where safety concerns are paramount.

If we look back 20/30 years, to our own childhood, often we don’t remember the toys or the gifts we were given. Those that we do remember are often things which had great meaning or lead to memories of the event. Memories are not made with gifts or with toys. Mmories are creatd through time and love. But the statistics above show that maybe we are forgetting the true value of a gift. . .

What if we stripped back the toys? Only got one box at a time? Bought toys which were eco-friendly and sustainable? Lets not even mention the plastic consumption crisis which is currently being uncovered through eco activists.

For us, toys have become less important. A truck becomes an ambulance, a transformer, a PawPatrol character’s vechial. Toys have become less ridged and more flexible, morphing into different things with creativity and play. The plastic consumption has decreased. Our spending on toys has dcreased. My boys now no longer have a tantrum at the toy aisle but instead are happy to wait and put it on their Christmas or Birthday list.

The amount of toys which we have acquired has rapidly diminished. McDonalds toys are no longer strewn across bedrooms, broken and rejected. We no longer have multiple sets of superhero’s in different forms from imaginex to Duplo, to Lego. That is not to say that they own no toys. Rather it is a handpicked, rotated selection of items which hold meaning, instead of a piece of plastic designed to give them 5 minutes of playtime and will surely break within seconds of an argument or when thrown into the toy box.

We haven’t got this sorted. We still have around 8 boxes of toys and multiple books. (I am a book hoarder! Knowledge is gained through reading!) But they are not the pinnacle of our childrens existence. We have a no gun or sword policy in our house, but I do not begrudge them getting a stick and playing wars and fighting. I let them climb trees, climb walls and encourage them to play outside, irrespective of the weather. Yet surprisingly, this change to a more simple approach to playtime has had a positive effect on the boys. They play together with fewer arguments, creativity allowing them to change and mould the character or the item to whatever their heart wants. The mess is substantially less! We all play together more frequently. Ain’t nothing like a McDonalds toy to make you loose the will to live!

Our aim is to foster children who are adaptable, inclusive and creative. I love the ames they create, using a rake as a crocodile and them being the zoo keepers. Watching them play life guards with my running rucksak and belt.

Just as our parents and grandparents brought us up, less truly can be more. The toy industry wants us to continue to consume. Be counter-cultural. Buy the things that grow with them, that are open ended, and allow them to create their own worlds using the items around the house.

Simple playtime is truly magical. Spending thousands throughout a child’s life on toys which stifle creativity and magic isn’t.

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