Oh my word. Babies come with so much stuff and it’s really easy to believe you need that much stuff. Like, really easy.
News flash: you don’t.
I remember my 9-month pregnant self flitting between Target and Kohl’s buying the “essentials” before the baby arrived. I’m sure most of it was being a first-time mom and not knowing what to expect, but if I had paused and thought, like really thought about it, I would have realized that I didn’t, in fact, need 5 pairs of shoes for this tiny human who CAN’T EVEN WALK.
As I’m writing this, it’s just before Everly’s first birthday and I’ve watched her progress through several developmental stages already. With that, she’s gone through too many sets of age-appropriate toys in the span of her short life. I can only imagine how many more toys Everly will go through as her stages of play evolve. I can’t/won’t be buying her (or encouraging family) to buy her new toys on a regular basis.
I’ve got ideas for our guidelines on what and how many toys we’re bringing into our home, but that’s another post. I’m not saying Everly won’t have toys, I’m just zeroing in on being intentional with our choices.
Here are my rules for how I make purchasing decisions for Everly:
- Evaluate our needs: Ask myself if this is something Everly actually needs before making a purchase. Does she already have something similar? Can we use a free resource like the library or park instead where we have an opportunity for Everly (and me) to socialize and get out of the house?
- Reach out to friends: I have a whole group of family and friends with kids who are usually willing to pass down or let us borrow toys and clothes. For Everly’s first birthday I was feeling a little bummed that I couldn’t justify buying her a special first birthday outfit. After a post on Facebook, I had a tutu and first birthday onesie to borrow and another friend offered to make an iron-on decal. With just a little extra effort, I had an adorable outfit for Everly that cost $3 compared to the $30+ ones sold on Etsy. I’m trying to take advantage of the awesome network I have and also be quick to share my resources as well. There’s no use for Everly’s gear to sit in storage for a possible sibling when I have friends with young kids right now who could save money and put the toys/clothes to use now.
- Buy used: It takes a bit more effort but I am trying to use Facebook yard sale sites, consignment stores, thrift stores, and warehouse sales. I’ve recently scored a water table for Everly for $7 and a baby pool for $3 and I’m still basking in that win. Water tables are around $30 and the baby pools are $10 so I’m feeling pretty good about myself. It’s the little things. So far, we haven’t personally bought even one brand new toy from a store for her, at least that I can remember.
- Go without: Everly doesn’t need everything her (or my) heart desires. If I want Everly to play with one thing for an extended time, learn to appreciate what she has, develop her creativity and imagination and just generally not be an entitled, grabby kid; that starts with me. I don’t need to “give her the world” to make her feel loved. I just need to love her. With me. With my time, my attention, my praise. That’s it. I need to retrain my mindset to not feel guilty for deciding not to get her something, but proud that I made the choice to teach her self-control by choosing to exercise it myself.
Following this system isn’t always my first instinct. I find myself automatically thinking about checking out Amazon or Target for toys to keep Everly happy and engaged. All of the changes Nate and I are making are a matter of retraining our mindsets.
We’ve tried to set some visual limits for toys. For now, her toy collection needs to fit in the gray bins on the shelf. As soon as they start to feel too full (I’m looking at you, grandmas…) I sort through them. The ones that were hits that I want to save for any potential future Riedys are stored and ones that were misses for our family are donated.
Currently, three of the bins are filled with books and one has her diapers. One of Everly’s favorite past times is putting the diapers in and out of the bin so I guess those count as toys too. In addition to the toys here she also has one bin in her room to play with when we are upstairs and also has a space in the living room for her play kitchen. As she grows that may change to a train table, tool bench, craft table or dollhouse.
Soon, I’ll share our guidelines for the type of toys we’d like in our home and how we go about selecting them. Do you struggle with too many toys in your home? Do you have any tips to share for how you don’t let toys take over?