Don’t get any toys
Having read this article on the connection between business and the mommy wars, I’ve been thinking about how so many posts on parent blogs are geared towards getting people to BUY stuff. I’m therefore starting a little series called “Don’t get…” offering a light-hearted look at some of the things new parents perhaps don’t need quite so badly.

One of my most persistent Christmas memories is going through the Obletter Christmas catalogue. For those who didn’t grown up in Bavaria, Obletter is Munich’s answer to FAO Schwarz. It has life-size cuddly bears in the entrance, at least it did back in the day when I was a kid. These days it’s probably transformers or vampires.

Back to the catalogue. It was awesome. It had everything a child could dream of and many things more. So every year I sat down to the complicated task of marking the things I wanted. I remember feeling that this was quite a serious endeavour. Which items were necessary for my next year? What would make me happy? What was my identity? Was I more of a Barbie girl or Playmobil house builder (truth be told, my parents forbade Barbie dolls so that soul-searching question was answered for me). I’d hand the marked catalogue back to my parents and, being the spoiled only child that I was, got about 10% of what I asked for. I of course forgot all those life-changing toys the moment I closed the pages.

Two decades later and I’m a parent. The toy industry has gone berserk. Many toys that were unthinkably expensive back in the day are now available in bulk at the supermarket. There are toys for fine motor skills, for listening, for reading, for gross motor skills. There are miniature cars that you can actually drive, miniature cooking sets…

As so many things in modern parenting the amount is overwhelming especially because you soon realise that:

a) the box the toy came in is usually more interesting than the contents and

b) the stuff you currently own in your house is even m
ore interesting than anything you could ever buy.

These are my sons favourite toys at 1+:

  • the glass TV cabinet filled with DVDs – he loves taking them out, putting them back, stacking them, ripping the covers to shreds..
  • the kitchen cabinets – on good days I can steer him away from the pots (noisy) and glassware (breakable) towards the Tupperware and baking accessories
  • our bidet – water on, water of. Repeat.
  • any bottle, cup or plate that I or my husband are holding – needless to say the item looses it appeal once the scalding/messy/poisonous substance is removed from the receptacle.

It makes me wonder why we buy any toys at all. In fact, we should all just stop buying toys. I’m pretty sure Einstein didn’t have a Duplo set, nor did van Gogh have an etch-a-sketch. Much better to invest in a nice bidet.

As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Has your house been overtaken by toys? Do you have an absolutely favourite, must-have toy for your baby or toddler?

More of the same: Don’t get a wrap, Don’t get a crib, The stroller-free baby, The five essential baby items you don’t need

Written by Julie
I’m Julie, 30-year old mum to a baby boy, translator, writer and wife. After nearly 5 years in Brazil, our little family has just moved back to Europe.