Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Can you embrace plastic toys and still be a conscious parent?

I was going to write a post about Simplicity Parenting and how my classic moth and squirrel animals can fit so nicely into a natural nursery full of open ended play opportunities.

Then I looked around my actual house.

Then I saw this fabulous photo from Dosfamily that I joyfully copied above with Franklin (&Steeb's) toys.

And I knew there was a different story to write today.

I read Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and was inspired.  To slow down and savor the rhythm of our days. To filter out the nasty world and protect childhood. To take a garbage bag to Franklin's toys, leaving only a few silk scarves, a hand carved gnome village and a clump of bees wax. If you are feeling overwhelmed, out of control, or generally frustrated with modern American parenting, Simplicity Parenting is a wonderful guide.

But I have to admit, I love clutter and collecting and the layers of life in all our stuff. There is something awesome about a mish mash of colorful characters all slightly different sizes, from different eras, none a complete set, making a weird diverse universe. I don't want to feel guilty about that.

I like toys. It's why I make them. If I had the skills and tools to make colorful plastic figures of my animals I probably would. But I have a sewing machine and a pile of cashmere. So I make what I make: fabulously huggable handcrafted critters with subtle personality and green sensibilities.

The Simplicity Parenting, along with Waldorf and Montessori, philosophy states that kids should not have plastic toys based on television characters. Simple "open ended" toys give the child more room to use their own imagination. I agree, some toys do too much, not leaving kids space to explore or tell their own stories.

Toys that spew catch phrases or canned music drive me crazy. Very few noisy or electronic toys have stayed in the toy box. I do curate what is in the home.

But I give kids' imagination more credit. I have seen Franklin turn a plastic duck, care bear and tug boat into a train. I overhear him acting out all the drama of our lives with the fantastic plastic guys. In fact just this morning, Franklin had  baby miss piggy tell ababy gonzo to "give. me. space." in exactly the tone of voice I had just used when he was poking my face in bed. Even with the fixed figures he was able to process social interactions and outcomes.

If you have a mix of basic toys and household items (cardboard boxes, bits of string, buttons, wooden blocks, fabric, tin cans, empty laundry baskets) available along with the licensed characters, I trust your child will still use plenty of creativity to build a totally unique world for the plastic guys. Or turn them into sandwiches.

If you are like me, you are a mix of green values and intentional living with a love for certain parts of pop culture and nostalgia for your childhood.  We are complex and so are our kids. And that is where it gets interesting, in the mix of styles and philosophies and changing technologies. Let it be fun. Joyful even.

You can say no to whatever toy or show you don't want in your home. And you can also say yes.

Go ahead and let your kid have a handwoven ratan basket full of plastic figures next to the wooden bowl of seashells and pine cones.

And when they need a little something simple at the end of the day to cuddle and comfort, make sure they have a moth and squirrel critter to hug. click here to shop now.

Want to keep exploring where plastic fantastic meets handcrafted recycled? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter for updates, inspiration and a free shipping code for online shopping.

No comments: