On our journey towards a more simple lifestyle we have learned and realized what babies and young children actually "need" in terms of extras. Because we have decided to live more on less income, purchasing expensive quality toys from some of the wonderful natural toy stores has simply been out of our reach. However, there are a couple exceptions to that which I will share over the week to come.
My husband and I have been drawn to waldorf style toys made of natural materials and as we have learned more about how little children need and how simple toys encourage creative, imaginative play (which is so important in the beginning years), we began to create toys for our own children. We enjoyed making them and decided to offer them for sale to others at affordable prices for those who were not able to make their own. It is enjoyable imagining the little child that will be playing with whatever toy we are handcrafting. The additional income helps our family work from home and continue towards our goal of family and community centered living.
Why do we choose simple toys made of natural materials that are made by the hands of people, not machines? There is something inheritantly beautiful about handmade items. Knowing that an individual made something with love and care and that by supporting their family - not a corporation - brings much more joy and a pleasing feeling just when looking at that toy. For example, when a brand new stacking toy arrives at your home packaged in a big box, with a plastic front and then the pieces themselves are all plastic and you read on the bottom of the box - "Made in China" - well, there is simply little connection to that item. However, some time ago, when I ordered a beautiful wooden stacking rainbow from a work at home family, well it came in the mail with just some recycled tissue paper and paper bag packaging. The wood is so much more pleasing to touch than the plastic and knowing that it is handmade brings warm feelings upon looking at it versus the plastic set that you know was made in a factory that produces much pollution by workers that make very little and may even be required to live in very unpleasant living conditions in a country that surpresses free speech and democracy.
Well, the series to come this week will focus less on the politics of natural toys, however, and more on what has worked in our family and what items we have found useful/not useful for babies through preschool age.
Just a hint - for our last three babies, we have not used a crib, portable crib or swing. What I will be sharing is simply what we have done - I am in no way criticizing those who do use more or do buy plastic toys. I just want to share how simplifying has made a difference in our family's life as we strive to be less consumeristic and more creative.