Before having children I used to jokingly buy the loudest and most annoying toys for other people’s children. Toy Drums? Of course! Oh, that one plays the same song on repeat over and over and over…looks good! No way to turn the sound option off? Cue my finger tips tapping together and my maniacal laughter! Why I would do this as a firm believer in karma can only fall squarely in the court of my “glutton for punishment” personality type.
When our first child was born we bought a handful of small toys along with a tummy time map and prided ourselves on not having a house run wild with playthings. Flash forward four years, a couple of BIG first birthday parties, mix in Christmases and some general spoiling along the way which I only have myself to blame (refer back to my skeleton puppy story if you need a refresher on my will power abilities) and good golly miss-ter live action talking Buzz Lightyear, am I living in my own worst nightmare. In my world the See ‘n Say, Christmas Dancing Snoopy and two Singing Racecars both with dying batteries can regularly be found doing their own version of rounds to “Kumba-ya need to shut that toy off before I lose my mind.” Seriously though, I’m not the only one wondering if toy companies and wineries are in cahoots, right?
This Christmas I am doing my best to limit the amount of battery required toys coming into our home. There will be a few new additions which I blame on Cyber Monday but the majority of our shopping list were toys that just so happen to be en vogue thanks to the uptick in Montessori schooling and the resurrection of popularity of toys that put emphasis off of driving parents of small children towards alcohol and back on engineering and math.
And with no further ado, here’s a sneak peak at a few new toys that will be going under our tree for our 2 preschool aged children:
Lincoln Logs: Classic Toy Alert! This is one of those American nostalgia magnets While on vacation in the Bay Area recently we came across a Lincoln Log kit in the gift shop of Muir Woods. My husband’s eyes lit up but when I turned the box over to see the insane markup they had on their kit I had to put that box right back down and tell the Mister to put his seat back up and turn his eye light switch to the off position. Thankfully this is where Amazon comes in handy and after arriving home I made sure to add Lincoln Logs to the Christmas shopping list. This present is supposed to be for my 4-year-old but I’m going to make an educated guess that it’s also going to be bringing my husband enjoyment as well. Why lie, I’m actually a little excited to get my hands on these myself too.
Gears Set: Earlier this year our preschooler came across a set of gear toys similar to these in a doctor’s office. To say he lost himself in these toys would be a vast understatement. He built ships and ships and more ships (What can I say? The kid loves ships.) I could quite literally see his own gears winding and moving as he tried to figure out how to make the biggest baddest ship of them all. My child now ASKS to go to the doctor so he can play with these again. Enthusiasm aside, buying these for the house seems like a much easier solution and it’s almost cheaper than the co-pay. So under the tree these will go. And while I fully anticipate that these little buggers will be thrown all over my home by Mr. Terrible 2-year-old himself, I still bought the version that came with the tub because, hell, a mom can dream, right?
Spirograph: Another blast from the past come back to life. While visiting a hands on children’s museum last month we happened across a Spirograph corner complete with pens of every color. Our 4-year-old was immediately drawn to it and once I explained how it worked he spent a solid 10 minutes drawing shape after shape (FYI: 10 minutes in 4-year-old time converted to adult time = 1.5 hours). I finally had to drag him away because this toy was not really grabbing my 2-year old’s attention so cue the “terrible” in “terrible twos” but the Spirograph went immediately onto my mental Christmas list. I opted for the Junior version to hopefully make it a little easier for him to successfully manuever on his own but either way this toy has not lost its charm for children and yes, this is another toy where my nostalgia has me excited to try it myself (sidenote: think my 4-year-old might like some barbie fashion plates?)
Jumbo Stringing Beads: While the first three toys on this list are geared more towards the 3 and up crowd, this activity is right up my 2.5 year old’s ally. After Big Brother cracked his dome open at preschool last month I brought out some beads and string for him to make his Preschool teacher a special “thank you” necklace. Our 2-year old wanted so badly to participate but there were 2 problems. 1) the beads we were using were definitely in the choking risk category meaning I had to watch him like a hawk and 2) his dexterity was just not quite there so he was becoming frustrated with his attempts. I did help him put some beads on a pipecleaner as a quick fix so he could participate but this Christmas I was on the look out for a safer and simpler option for his little hands. Cue the Jumbo Stringing Beads. I’m positive that he’s going to love this toy.
Magnetic Blocks: This is a toy we already own but I’m throwing it up on the list because it’s the toy that really started me looking beyond the Fisher Price world for my children and if it’s not on your Christmas list it should be. I first bought the Magnetic Blocks linked here for our youngest’s 2nd birthday. Not only did he love them but big brother loved them too. Which led to us gifting him a set for his 4th birthday. All those ships he likes to build? Well feast your eyes on his magna-perfect landing pad! These blocks get at least five times more play time than the Mega Blocks we started out with (and if you’ve watched Toy Story as many times as I have then that statement just gave you a major case of the sadz as you pictured the lonely little Mega Blocks hanging out in the dusty closet. No? Just me again? Damn-) and they are big enough that they don’t pose choking risks to younger children which has been the main reason I’ve been limiting the lego action in this house. There aren’t many toys that I think can fit the bill for such a wide age gap. I have every expectation that these will remain a staple in our house for many more years.
While I would hardly consider myself an expert in the play and development of preschooler’s as a whole, I do consider myself an expert in, “I cannot take a-single-nother second of this freaking singing puppy dog.” I’ve been collecting toys all week from the toy box for pre:Christmas donations and I’m excited to start shifting our toy time to quieter and more imaginative play options. That being said, we are also getting our 4-year-old a guitar because, while on one hand, he loves music and we are hoping he’ll take to an instrument, on the other hand we clearly hate hearing ourselves think. So here’s to all the parents of small children out there! I’m hoping one of your relatives who’s looking for gift ideas stumbles across this post and gets your child some Lincoln Logs instead of the Meowing Cat Piano they are currently considering (and hopefully in doing so settles the score with my loud toy gifting Karma.)