A toy-free Christmas?

13th December 2015

For day thirteen of our advent calendar we hear from Jo, a Worthing mum, who wants a more traditional Christmas this year, without the commercial clutter. What do you think?

So it’s nearly Christmas and I imagine most mums and dads will be running around getting the last few bits together to make it as magical as possible for their children, because if we’re honest that’s what it’s all about.

Christmas without noisy children, silly arguments, and general child related chaos just doesn’t quite have the same sparkle. For me anyway. I love seeing the glee on their faces when the tree is up and the excitement bubbling as the sleeps until Christmas countdown progresses.

Yet despite all that, I can’t help feeling that a modern Christmas is becoming more and more commercial and consequently less magical. My daughter is thirteen now and still adores it, but the conversation has turned from what she would like from Santa to what she would like from her family. So much so that it feels like she is simply putting in her order and waiting for the delivery. I never knew what I was getting when I was growing up, I was never asked what I wanted and it never occurred to me to ask, I just loved opening each present with no idea what it might hold. It added to the excitement anticipation and the magic.

“am I the only one that thinks £20 is too much for a 13 year old to spend on each friend?”

Now I see my daughter texting her friends, talking about what they will get each other (am I the only one that thinks £20 is too much for a 13 year old to spend on each friend?). They send each other screen shots of what they would like, with the exact shop, brand and colour picked out. They may as well just go and buy it themselves.

So, in a bid to make Christmas a little more magical and a little less commercial this year, I am steering away from the shop bought plastic flashy noisy toys and aiming instead for home made, sensory, toys that aren’t even toys.

Last week for example, I gave in to temptation and bought my little boy some noisy singing cars with the matching garage that seem to be all the rage at the moment. I brought them in and loaded up the batteries, expecting him to be excited and begin playing with them. But instead he went for the box of matches that we’re sitting on the floor. He spent 30 minutes in total concentration putting the matches in and put of the box. Supervised of course!

Now I’m not saying lets all give our kids a box of matches for Xmas and I’m not saying all plastic toys are bad, most kids love them perhaps because they provide instant gratification. But this year my boy will be getting only non-toy toys (is that even a word?) because they are cheaper, usually open ended, and can provide a bonding opportunity as they are often craft related. They give opportunities to extend their language skills, sharing, turn taking, fine and gross motor skills as well as many others. Sensory baskets for example are a great way of providing your child with opportunities to explore different textures and objects in a safe way whilst also working on their concentration span.

There are thousands of ideas out there for non-toy related play.

I think somehow they allow children to use their imagination and play in a way that they may have done years ago before society was so modern. The homes we now live in are very boring from a young child’s perspective, flat walls and flooring, electric lighting, child locks, radiators. It’s a far cry from sleeping in a cave, feeling the earth beneath your feet, the warmth of an open fire and watching the sunlight trickle in through the leaves on the trees. I want my children as much as possible to be able to use their imaginations and to be able to play the way they would naturally have done before technology and commercialisation took over their childhoods.

My daughter is quite possibly addicted to social media and her tablet, yet all it does is take her further into herself and away from her family and the real connections she has in her life.

Yes, the more I think about it the more sure I am, this year we are having an old fashioned toy free Christmas.

Have you considered the same, have you had a toy-free Christmas yourself? Let us know! We’d love to hear your tips and ideas.

About Jo

JoI have a degree in early childhood studies, have 2 children aged 14 months and 13 years, lived in Worthing for 10 years. Currently a sahm but have experience working in pre school settings.

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