Welcome back to my Guest Blogger Series. These weeks roll around so quickly, but I never complain as it’s great to have such great content so regularly on my blog. This week we have Laura who blogs over at Edinburgh With The Kids who is blogging for us today about reducing the ‘stuff’ in our lives.
“Hello! I’m Laura – a full-time work Mum, wife and Mama to three lovely kids – Katie, Thomas and my stepson Ben. I started blogging whilst on maternity leave with Thomas and now almost two years on I’m still writing. ‘Edinburgh with Kids’ is a magazine style lifestyle blog. I aim to offer simple, honest, inspiring and down to earth advice. I have no idea if I’m successful in that so people feel free to visit and let me know!”
Reducing The Stuff In Our Lives
Currently, I’m writing in my best friend’s living room in Norfolk. The door to the garden is open and the sun is streaming through to the spot that I’m sitting. The room is spacious with minimal furniture. There are a few toys dotted around but it’s all pretty modest. I’m actually propped up on a gigantic bean bag rather than the solitary sofa.
If I were to imagine the equivalent in my house, there would be far more noise and well… stuff.
This morning as I was drinking tea and thinking about this comparison I was reflecting on how much money we could’ve saved over the last 5 years if we had just opted to have less. Do we really need everything we have? The honest answer is of course, no.
I know this to be absolutely true because of how content the kids have been over the last few weeks.
This holiday, we initially headed to my Mum’s house in Sussex. The kids had a single box of Duplo, a few bits of Playmobil, colouring in, and a doll with a buggy. They were all happy to play with these toys – and did for several hours per day. There may have been less but as a result, we just headed out the door more.
Now we’re in Norfolk we have a basic train set, some baby toys, and a little carry case with some Playmobil. None of them have been moaning about this or asking for more.
They haven’t once said – “I wish we had brought all the Peppa Pig stuff” or “Why didn’t we bring my trampoline?!” They honestly seem very content. So why do we own so much? What possessed us to buy it all?
Maybe, I have rose tinted glasses on because we’re away. Perhaps if we stayed away for months at a time we would miss things. The kids might get bored and start asking for more.
But looking around my friend’s house, whilst admittedly she only has one baby – she doesn’t seem to have most of the junk we had for our first and yet is really quite comfortable!
I think we are constantly bombarded with the idea that we need to buy things for our children. I was thinking early about some of our Playmobil 123 toys. They really are lovely and both of the younger children enjoy them. But why do we have 3 different sets? Were they not happy with just one?
But then I remember the pressure of birthdays and Christmas… The question always arises – what should we get the kids? More of the same is purchased so there are things to unwrap and we’ve ticked the box of getting them something.
I remember days where we’re in the toy aisle at the supermarket and they’re asking to get something new. Inevitably they just ask for something they know and like already – so we add another Barbie to the collection.
I remember watching the kids play with a toy at a friends house or play cafe and thinking we should get one too. But why didn’t I just think we should visit each other more often?!
You often hear people saying ‘It wasn’t like that in my day’ and I’m sure I’ve thought that at times, but honestly I would be lying.
Do you know those ‘clickbait’ type articles on Facebook entitled ‘Remember these toys from the 80s/90s’? I ALWAYS click on those. What they reveal is all the rubbish I had forgotten about – long ago abandoned to landfill.
I had the Polly in my Pockets, the My Little Pony, the Pound Puppy and the weird duck ‘Keepsi’ thing with unlocking wings. Not forgetting the Fisherprice record player, toolkit and garage. As a teenager, I had several Tamagotchis and can full well remember the early models of Nintendo.
All that plastic fantastic joy! But did I need it all? Has it lasted?
Toys That Last
If I’m perfectly honest, if my Mother produced that Fisherprice record player I would be overjoyed. I know they’ve brought a new one out but apparently, it’s not the same and doesn’t have those plinky grove bits. But I’m more thankful, she’s not attempting to foist degraded plastic on me from some forgotten corner of the attic.
That’s also not to say there aren’t toys that she’s kept. It these I’ve been reflecting on. What toys have genuinely lasted for the past 32 years and still keep the kids happy?
Brio – this wooden train set was given to my brother when he was two (34 years ago). He played with it daily, I played with it, visitors to our house played with it, and now my kids play with it. You couldn’t tell it was old and many of the pieces can still be bought today and haven’t been adapted.
Lego – we still have a huge box of Lego from my childhood (and a small amount of Duplo). The difference is – none of it is a particular set or theme. It’s a mixture of bricks, wheels, and base plates. In short, it requires a little more imagination.
Playmobil – I was a huge fan of Playmobil as a child and a fair amount is still going. Sadly some bits have now snapped off through rough play but I’ve noticed that the more modern variety is actually a little worse for this. They seem to have added a lot more gadgets and themed items. Gone are the very generic cars and spies have arrived in their place. Obviously a great marketing ploy!
I’m not exactly sure what makes these toys different. I just know that they were the ones played with most, consistently, and have lasted.
I don’t know what the solution to all of this is. I know that Katie’s birthday is fast approaching and the likelihood is I’ll be giving her something to unwrap. I doubt it will be unique and I doubt she will really ‘need’ it. That doesn’t exactly fill me with joy.
I’m also not about to bin all of the toys in our house – although I’m sure a few will be appearing on Gumtree soon!
I do know however that I’m uncomfortable with the amount of disposable plastic rubbish in our lives. I don’t just mean toys in that either.
I mean the bottles that clutter our bathrooms, the packaging spilling out of the bin after our weekly shop, and the many many take away cups littering the floor of my car. All of it soon to be joining my abandoned toys of the 80s.
As I sit enjoying the sun and the green trees hanging over the garden. I do just feel I could be making more effort to live responsibly. To consume a little less and just appreciate life that bit more.
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