I love watching my children completely involved in their imagination play. So much personality and passion comes out. The things they are learning in their daily life come out while they are playing and concepts they are just figuring out work their way into their dialogue. My daughter is constantly giving her dolls time outs for yelling and getting out of bed at bedtime. My sons playmobile characters seem to be getting caught playing with weapons only to explain that they were just squirting water or bubbles, so its ok:)
My children tend to get caught up in a particular theme and go full on letting their imaginations take it as far as I will let them. For a while they were constantly rearranging our play room so it was exactly like a house. Playing mommy and daddy and little puppy. Then it emerged into what they referred to as “puppy town” where everyone was a puppy and had their own dog houses (made from cardboard boxes). Puppy town lasted for so long that I know never want a dog. Currently my children are into “Camping”. We personally just started camping again as a family after waiting out the winter months. So it was no surprise to me when they decided to go on imaginary camping trips.
With the constant change in imaginative play, as a mother wanting to help foster their play, I feel as though i need to help provide material to let them continue to play happily. This can feel impossible. At first I would go on Pinterest and look for ideas. A simple idea would quickly escalate into a project that was too overwhelming for me to even start. By the time i could settle on a simple plan they had moved onto a new idea.
My daughter and I often find ourselves with a few hours to kill as we wait for my son to finish preschool. We roam the malls with the mommy stroller groups and elderly mall walkers, just waiting for the stores to open. Walking into the Lego Store or the Disney store really gets your creative juices flowing and I find myself wanting to buy something to add to their imaginative play collection.
First things first. I can not afford that. No one can! Secondly, that puts a lot of pressure on that toy to get used for a long time. No toy can live up to that kind of pressure. I basically only spend money in those stores if I am buying a Birthday Present for a friends kid.
When it comes to children’s toys and clothes and books I am a firm believer in USED!
Used toys are amazing for so many reason.
Best reason so far is there is absolutely no pressure for your children to use it. I am not constantly trying to justify the amount of money I spent on that toy to my husband and friends. Who cares if they only use it for 2 hours and then it sits on the shelf for 2 months. it only cost me 50 cents at the thrift store. I can just pass it on or donate it. Same deal goes for clothes.
My children grow so fast and whenever I spend a lot of money on a clothing item it tends to not be worth it. Especially with my son. He grows really fast. When he was little he actually skipped a whole shoe size. Who can keep up with that? We are super blessed to have donors for both my children to receive hand me downs from. I can not even express how much I appreciate getting that box or garbage bag of used clothes. Especially since i feel absolutely no obligation to use the items in it and then feel so much freedom in spending money on that one shirt I have been wanting from the independent mom and pop shop online. I use the hand me downs to create their wardrobe and then spend money on the pieces to fill the gaps. I love second hand clothing stores for getting my children their shoes and boots and outdoor play gear.
Children are tiring but they do not need to be costly. I can justify the money i save on clothes and put it towards signing them up for activities instead. My absolute favorite thing about buying used and inheriting hand me downs is that I get to pay it forward. Passing on our well loved clothes to my sister or my friends brings me a lot of joy. I also do not care if they use them or not. They get to do the same thing I did, pick the pieces they like and pass on the rest. It’s a beautiful circle of life.
So go explore your local second hand and thrift stores. Find those hidden gems.
Here are a few items I have bought second hand that my children have absolutely loved and used on a daily basis.
- puppy leashes (only allowed to put on their wrists)
- flash lights
- mini lanterns
- magnify glass
- plastic tweezers (picking up bugs)
- plastic jars (storing bugs)
- spoons (sturdy shovels)
- notebooks and pens
- measuring tape
- old trucks and boats that were inside toys to play with outside.
Those are just the few things I have found lately at the thrift stores in my area.
As their interests change I will go again with a new mission in mind.
Spending 3 dollars for a few items every few months to gain some well deserved “me” time while my children are entertained is a good investment in my mind. If it doesn’t work, oh well. I can use those spoons to feed them instead:)