More STUFF – for you and your kids!

We can all admit the silly season prep has hit us hard.  It’s as though Halloween comes and goes but with it goes any idea that there “might still be time to get it done this year”, whatever your it might be.  Suddenly the assault of Christmas decor in shopping centres is no longer subtle and every weekend is filled with “end of year” stuff – whether that be work functions, kiddie concerts, carol services or Christmas movies on Hallmark.  Despite it being the first week in November, the Black Friday adverts are filling our inboxes thick and fast.

And with all the hype comes that nagging feeling that we, or our kids, or both, need more “stuff”.  Better decorations for the tree, a few more fillings for the stockings, that once-in-a-lifetime special never-to-be-repeated. Our lives are already cluttered, why do we want to acquire more things?

We are nearly all proud owners of a scarcity mindset, whether we want to admit it or not.  This could be as a result of our upbringing, our culture, media – blame whoever you like.  A scarcity mindset makes you believe with all your heart that there are limited resources out there, and that your life will be better off if you acquire more stuff.

Your kids believe this too.  How can they possibly ever be seen in public (school) again if they don’t have this or that?  It might really be the end of the world.

In most cases, the mindset is just that, your reality, and not the truth.  There’s more than enough of whatever to go around.  So this year, why not think more experiences, less stuff.  It’s one thing the millennials seem to have gotten right.

If you are going to buy a few things (which of course we all are), here are a few tips to try and limit the excess:

  • Quality over quantity
  • Value-for-money over bargain
  • Long-term learning over short-lived pleasure
  • Good design over gimmick or gadget
  • Experiences over stuff

As all the excitement of the December break turns to overwhelm, try to remember your why and let that guide your shopping process.

Happy playing!



A bunch of toddlers and a blank slate

So yesterday was a new experience and a big risk. We took some toddlers, a new photographer and an open forest with a bunch of our toys to see whether we could get some great shots of the kids having fun.  The kids knew each other but didn’t see each other often.  None of them were models save for posing for their moms’ IG accounts.  They weren’t familiar with the toys.  And guess what? We got some great shots.  Why?

There was no agenda.  The kids were presented with open-ended toys.  The photographer needed some explanation as to what could be done with them, but the kids didn’t.  Kids have the most fun when they are able to use their imaginations, and when toys have more than one purpose.

I saw a quote recently that said “Ask: Is this toy 90 percent child and 10 percent toy, or 90 percent toy and 10 percent child? If there’s only one thing to do with it, then the toy is controlling everything. This one’s more open-ended, so he gets to make his own world.” – Dr. Roberta Golinkoff, professor of psychology at University of Delaware and co-author of the New York Times best seller speaking about Bilibo from Moluk.

There is a school of thought related to play called the Theory of Loose Parts.  If you know me personally you will have heard me talk about it many times.  When children are left in an open space, with random unfamiliar objects lying around, they will start to imagine, create and play – creating their own toys and play space in a unique way that allows for much more brain development than the fanciest toys we can provide.  You see, play is innate.  Children were designed for play.  We as adults interfere way too much and way too often, stifling the creativity that is waiting to emerge.

Anything can be used as loose parts: old tyres, wooden offcuts, buttons, household items.  When children are given the freedom to explore we will be astounded not only by their creativity but also their ability to handle what we might see as dangerous objects.  Scandinavian playgrounds would shock many helicopter parents with their liberal use of loose parts and their faith in children’s abilities.  Yes accidents do happen, but they happen anywhere.  We need to intervene less and watch more.  And if you want to treat your children to new toys, look for ones with infinite opportunity to be used in creating their own play scenarios.

Happy playing!  And we’ll share some of the pics soon 🙂