As William's 3rd birthday approaches, and the pregnancy nesting kicks in, I have started to think more about the physical environment of our home. My mother in law helped me, a few months back, to declutter and better organize every single room in our house. I went along, somewhat half heartedly. But now it is growing within me, and urge for less. I want FEWER things. And I want the things that we have to be basic and of good quality.
My focus lately has been on toys. I've been reading about Waldorf, and I love the Waldorf(ian?) approach to toys and play. Like many homes, our play things were starting to consist largely of plastic and/or electronic entertainment. Toys that do all the playing FOR the child. Funny how our society has come to feel the bigger and fancier the better, and then sit there dumbfounded when the kid choses to play with the box instead! It should be no surprise to us. Kids have incredible creative minds. A box can be a million and one things. Building blocks create whatever their little minds can come up with. A peice of fabric becomes a cape or a fort. Studies show kids benefit from having time to make believe, and having a creative outlet, whatever that may be. Yet your basic wooden or fabric, non-electronic toy is hard to come by these days in a given toy store. That's not to say a child can't make believe with plastic and lights, but there's just something so authentic and satisfying about getting back to basics.
It has also been found that less is more. Too many toys overwhelm a child. More time will be spent intensively playing if only a few special toys are out. So this year for Christmas and his birthday, my son is losing a whole lot of plastic crap, but gaining some multifunctional, creative, open ended items, and I can't wait to see what awesome adventures he'll have.