Our grocery trips, or any trip to the store for that matter, are completely toy free. No toys, almost ever.
Let me start by saying that I never set out to be the mom that didn’t buy toys. I didn’t make a vow to myself pre-motherhood. I just simply didn’t see a need. I find that I raise my kids based on my own childhood. I think about the times that stood out most to me, the things that truly left an impact. When I’m staring off into space thinking about those days, there aren’t many toys involved in my thoughts, just lots and lots of happy times. Lots of laughter, LOTS of time spent together.
Our kids have toys and we do actually buy toys for them (we really do!). In fact, there are two times of the year that toys find their way into the cart: Christmas and on birthdays. That’s it. Those “filler” toys in-between are in the grocery carts of grandparents, and it works for us. Kids are happy, grandparents are happy, everyone is happy!
So, what’s so great about this whole toy free thing??? A few things, actually! Here’s why we don’t buy toys…
- My kids don’t have meltdowns over a toy free trip to the store. A trip to the grocery store for us doesn’t come with promise of a new toy or even a piece of candy. We go to the grocery store for just that, groceries. And they know this. They don’t even ask. We can parade up and down the toy aisle, look at all the fun stuff and there isn’t one question of “…can I have?…”.
- Their rooms are quite enjoyable to be in. They have a little nook in their closet that houses most of their toys and one or two out in the open, but they’re pretty toy free otherwise. To me, it makes their room so cozy. I really REALLY enjoy being in there. It’s definitely easy on the eyes and not over stimulating for them. Also, there aren’t a ton of toys all over to distract their little minds while they are drifting off to sleep.
- Christmas is a breeze! A tiny toy collection makes for a pretty descent Christmas list. With our huge family, Santa and birthdays in January and February, a stout list is sooo beneficial to this mamma. Those trips down the toy aisle come in handy most of the time. I usually whip my phone out, take a snap of the toy(s) they’re interested in and voila, instant Christmas list. No worry of “..ugh, they already have that. And that. Oh dang, that too”
- It’s easy on the budget! Bottom line is that toys on every shopping trip adds up and we as a family would rather spend it on other things. I’ll get to that part in a bit.
- I find our kids are more appreciative when they do get a toy. Instead of a kid that expects it, they are genuinely thankful for a toy on their birthday or a random surprise from maw maw.
Ok, so now for the fun part! How exactly do we treat and reward our kids? That answer is easy! We “spoil” them with experiences. Instead of the candy bar in the checkout line we might stop by the snoball stand on the way home and spend the evening soaking up every last bit of sunshine. Or rather than a toy for each during this week’s grocery trip, we will take a trip to the zoo.
While I think that toys are a part of every kid’s childhood, I feel that family time is something that shouldn’t be skipped out on. My goal with this whole “toy free thing” is for my boys to remember more than possessions, more than material things from these magical days of theirs. When they grow up and have children of their own, I want so badly for them to remember all those trips to the zoo and all those late summer nights with snoballs dripping down their little hands. I want them to have memories of time together instead of things.