"Choose safe, durable and sustainable toys that stay fun and relevant for years" by Giedre Sidrys
It’s 9:30 in the morning, the kids have torn their room apart, and you are pulling your hair out wondering why your kids can’t play nicely when they have so many toys. Shhhh! I’ll tell you a secret. THEY HAVE TOO MANY TOYS. Birthdays, Christmas, and grandparent visits all collide together and suddenly the house is inundated with cheap toys in every corner. Toys that toot and squeak and break when used more than three times in a row and underwhelm your kids once the newness wears off. As a parent, it can often be difficult to step away and remember less is more and quality pays off in the long run. Every time I purge all the cheap toys, I reap the benefits. The kids zero in on the clean space and play for hours uninterrupted. What are these safe, durable, and sustainable toys that stay fun and relevant for years? Here’s a few of our favorites:
The Nugget: If you haven’t heard about this infinitely configurable playcouch that hit the world by storm during the pandemic, are you even a parent? We learned about this awesome toy before it got popular only because we lived in the town where it originated: Durham, North Carolina. Made of four foam pieces, the Nugget can be a couch, a slide, a fort, or anything else your child can imagine. My kids spend hours climbing it to search the wild seas for megalodons and rolling off it to practice their ninja skills. Better yet, the company that manufactures the nuggets has been built as an equitable, conscientious company, one which values its employees and the integrity of its product more than growth and profit. Having a nugget in the kids room takes up space, but it’s used so frequently and creatively that it’s worth it.
LEGO: Not usually the first toy one thinks of when using the word “safe” - especially if you have unluckily trod barefoot on these tiny pieces, but when I think about toys that occupy my children for endless periods of time and have lasted throughout generations, our LEGO and DUPLO toys top that list. Most of our DUPLO and LEGO stash are actually as old as I am, having been passed down from my childhood to my children. We gave them a good scrub and they’re good as new. While the LEGO company originally couldn’t boast much about sustainability being part of their manufacturing process, these days they’re much more environmentally minded, focusing on using renewable energy to balance 100% of their energy consumption. In addition, the Reputation Institute reported that The LEGO Group is the highest rated company when it comes to being fair in business, being ethical, and being open and transparent. Here in our home, I just love seeing my kids build endlessly with them. My oldest son rebuilt a set fifty different ways, often looking up alternative instructions for each set. He’ll carefully study the LEGO pieces at his disposal to engineer a way to make a lobster’s claws snap open and shut, or experiment with how many different types of shark jaws he can create. I’m constantly in awe of his ingenuity in using these small toys.
Simple Wooden Toys: Kids don’t need fancy toys in order to use their creativity. In fact, the more details a toy has, often the less creative a child will be with it. Wooden blocks get built into fairy palaces, our wooden Grimms Rainbow becomes a ramp to launch balls, and our little Flockmen challenge my kids to build teetering towers one second, archways the next, and then become characters in a construction site. Even my one-year-old sits and carefully pieces them together. I love that they come in a reusable cloth bag for easy storing, that the small wooden pieces are CE certified and comply with toy safety regulations (so important when you have some kids who still chew everything!), and best of all - that the family-owned company has all the toys made in their local community rather than overseas. This is the sort of toy I not only enjoy seeing my children play with, but also love displaying in our common spaces. They’re beautifully made and don’t distract with flashing buttons, loud noises, or hard plastics that will eventually break down.
Whether you’re a new parent or have several children, I highly encourage you to spend time curating what toys your children have and focusing on quality over quantity.
Thank you: Giedre Sidrys/ @walkingdotphoto