I resisted going to the Toy Library for a long time: I didn’t want to complicate my life by giving myself more errands to run. Until one day we happened to be right near it and we decided to give it a try. Well, it was like kid heaven!
And it was better than a trip to the toy store: going to stores with my children always makes me nervous as I worry that they’ll pick out the most expensive item in the store. And they usually do. Wow, the toy marketers are doing their job very well! But for these reasons too:
- All the toys come with batteries installed! That’s part of your membership fee, and it’s one less headache for parents.
- The items on the shelves weren’t packaged as they are in a store. So my children could try out each toy before deciding whether to take it home.
- You can ‘try before you buy.’ If your child is really keen on a popular new toy, but you’re not sure they’re really going to play with it, you could see if they’ve got it at your Toy Library first. You can also see if they are ready to progress to more complicated toys like construction sets before investing the money.
- Some Toy Libraries have outdoor play equipment too. I’d always felt a bit guilty for not buying a sandpit or swing set for my children: I didn’t want to clutter up our small yard. But now I know I can borrow these things and the children can play on them from time to time.
- You give the toys back when you’re finished with them, which is great for families living in small spaces.
It was a great afternoon of budget-friendly family fun, but I also think that we learned a few things about the concept of minimalism, namely:
- Toys don’t have to be shiny and new to be fun to play with. Most of them, especially the popular ones, were a bit worn with a few missing pieces. But the children were excited because they were new to them.
- We should respect they toys and look after them because they are a community resource for all to use.
- The average length of time before the novelty wears off on a new toy is about a week and a half even though you can borrow items for longer than this. It’s the novelty that children like, not any one toy in particular. Hopefully, I’ll be able to remind them of this next time we are in a store.
- It’s ok not to buy. Actually, once we’d chosen our items my eldest child said “when are we going to pay for these?”. I had to explain that we would borrow them and use them for a little while and then return them for others to use. Once I told them they would then be able to choose something new, they were ok with it.
Hopefully, they learned a little about detachment from material things. As a parent, it taught me how attached to things my children have become in their short time on this earth, and how our culture encourages this in us all.