I hate my children’s toys. Over there. I said it. I got it off my completely mother-guilty chest. Honestly, I don’t hate all of their toys, but some deserve to go straight into the trash. Toys test a parent’s patience in the smallest of ways, and the threshold for annoyance is often a lot lower than expected. The toys forced upon children today seem to have been designed by people without children, or by people who take pleasure in torturing their parents.
While those opinions may seem a bit dramatic, many parents like me can’t stand their kids’ toys. Trust me when I say parents are not buy this toy for their children. They often come from well-meaning relatives or friends. They usually show up at birthday parties and holidays, making it a challenge to hide displeasure from the gift giver or figure out how to sneak it into the garage for a return trip to the shop. Sometimes they sneak in via goodie bags at another kid’s birthday party.
My least favorite toys are battery powered devices that won’t turn off or make giant messes for Mom to clean up later (I’m looking at you slime and kinetic sand). After turning to Twitter to consult other parents, I found several annoyances.
For Jeff Loiselle, a 44-year-old father of two from Bridgewater, Massachusetts, it’s a toy that makes loud noises. “[There’s] many of them don’t have the volume adjusted,’ he notes. And they’re almost all made of plastic. Nobody wants them when children outgrow them, because nobody wants second-hand plastic.”
Dad of one Robert Bearden of Winter Haven, Florida, meanwhile, isn’t a fan of toys that require downloading an app.
“I appreciate that we live in a time where toys can have separate apps,” says Bearden. “However, I hate this. I want my child to be a child and not use apps when playing with toys.” Instead, he buys items for his child, such as dolls and dollhouses, to encourage her to “use her imagination and create her own world” rather than relying on technology to play.
Jenn Wint’s toy annoyances include “anything that lights up and sings repetitive songs in high electronic pitches,” the 39-year-old mother-of-two from Vancouver tells Yahoo Life. “A few years ago, my son was given a microphone that sang. Fortunately, he was too young to notice that it never came out of the box. Usually, battery-powered gifts are re-gifted, passed on, or donated.”
Wint shares that her 3-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son have also just started playing with toys that involve smaller parts, such as Lego sets and marble runs. Although they don’t make a sound, the smaller toys are difficult to clean up and keep organized, and she finds her kids stop playing with toys that don’t have all of their parts faster than other toys.
So what can parents do about toys they hate? Polite society says gifts should be accepted with gratitude, but should you keep something you or your child will never play with?
“Many friends and family members mean well when they gift your child with certain toys, but often those toys turn out to be a headache for you — or a safety concern,” says Olivia DeLong. preferences for your child in advance, you can gently explain which toys your child would rather not have (and why) and offer some other ideas instead.
DeLong also shares that making a list on a shopping website like Amazon gives parents more control over what toys a child can receive, even if the gift givers are simply using the list to get ideas. My own family has been doing this for several years and it has been quite successful in helping friends and relatives gift safe and age appropriate items.
But what about those instances where a child is given a toy and it turns out to be a parent’s worst nightmare?
“For toys that are safe but you’re just not crazy to have around, you can always donate them to local charities, shelters, or children’s homes,” suggests DeLong. “You can also call your hospital or doctor’s office to see if they would like them for their patients. Your neighbors and friends may also want to buy them from you.”
DeLong says it can be challenging to decide which toys are appropriate and safe for a child’s age and developmental stage. She suggests trying a toy subscription service that curates a set of toys based on your child’s age.
Personally, I’m a fan of experiences over toys or other gifts. It can be tempting to feed someone’s sense of instant gratification with a gift that can be used immediately. However, my family has found that the memories of the experience often outlast toys. Children grow out of toys, but their memories with their family last forever.
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