When I was a new mum, I naively believed that experts knew more about my child's needs than me. I bought into the idea that in order to give my child the best start in life, I had to provide educational toys and attend early learning classes. I was living in the city and I remember feeling totally inadequate because I couldn't afford all the flashy, electronic, expert tested, award winning toys nor the multitude of 'lessons' which supposedly would give my child an edge when the time came to start school. Mama guilt was huge. Over my years of parenting, however, I have come to see it for what it is and that's just another marketing tool to encourage consumerism and in a way I'm grateful my finances didn't allow for it. These days I prefer the simplicity of books, simple toys and outside play.
I'm definitely not against toys, and beautiful, well made toys provide many hours of entertainment, however, I am much more discerning now about the kinds of toys and materials I allow to take permanent residence in our home. Instead, my focus these days is on providing experiences in which the kids can play without actually having to own 'things' and therefore add to the clutter in our house. Nowadays rather than wishing I had more toys for my children, its actually more of a challenge for me to keep undesirable toys out of our environment, and I'm constantly having to cull our toy collection.
The benefits of natural play are three-fold. Firstly, it doesn't have to cost anything. Secondly, it connects children to nature which engages all the senses. And thirdly, it doesn't clutter up the home and ultimately contribute to landfill.
That said, we are guilty of way too much screen time! Especially in the heat of Queensland summers when it's just too hot to go outside. With that in mind, I'm on a quest to bring the outdoors in and embrace inside play and craft using things we find outside.