Guest Post: "Our Simple Life with Toys"

by Kendra Allen

As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Meet Isabelle, our youngest baby and the subject of this photo I snapped.

At the time, I didn’t realize how well this photo captured our toy philosophy: quality toys that encourage creativity, free toys, free books, and five minute or less clean up.  


Let’s Play!

Tip: Craft your own toy philosophy to use as a guide as you make decisions about what toys to keep and bring into your home.

Hi! I’m Kendra Allen, wife to Jake and mommy to Lyla, Asher, and Isabelle. I am no stranger to the financial and emotional strain toys can add to a growing family; the endless picking up after kids, stepping on broken toys, trying to keep up with all the pieces, and going through the hassle of keeping age appropriate toys.

We’ve been through it all and through the years have realized that none of it is necessary. Don’t kids need toys though?

YES! Yes, they do.

However, the toys do not need to monopolize your home or your bank account.

How can you have your toys and your money, time, and sanity too?

  1. Get rid of any toys that ALL the kids cannot play with

    Note: We do have a few special exceptions to this rule, but those toys are set aside for individual quiet time.

  2. Say goodbye to unitask toys

A toy should have endless possibilities. Some of our favorites are:

  • Wooden train set: The train set we use is from Jake’s childhood. I don’t think we’ve built the same track twice.

  • Play scarves: The kids use scarves instead of a bunch of different costumes to build forts and play dress up. Add in a few random hats and there’s no limit to who or what your child can be or create.

  • Magnetic tiles

  • Tegu Wooden Blocks

3. Conquer the overflowing bookshelf by utilizing your local library

Many library systems allow you to reserve books online, so you can quickly pop in and pick up your stack of books without having to make a big outing of it.  

4. Give your kids the magic of going toy shopping EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH.

Yep. You read that correctly. Our kids go toy shopping each month. Once a month the kids and I head to our closest toy library. Again, yes, you did read that correctly. There are toy libraries all over the United States. They are associated with the local library systems. We found ours by doing a simple Google search and making a few phone calls. We do pay a small out of town fee to the library of $28 annually.

Each of the kids get to pick a new toy to take home for a month. These toys are nice brands too, like Green Toys and Melissa & Doug. At the end of the month, we return the toys and get new ones.

5. If it takes longer than 5 minutes to clean up a room, then there are too many toys available

Keep extra toys stored in a closet to easily switch out. This encourages intentional and focused play.

Thank you for stopping by to check out how we accomplish our simple life with toys.

Until Next Time

A great big thank you to Kendra for sharing her practical tips with our community! To find out where your closest toy library is, visit the USA Toy Library Association. For Wilmington, NC residents, here are two local resources to check out:

Smart Start Resource Room - access to educational toys, games, and books for children up to five years old

Center for Assistive Technology- lending library for children with disabilities

Comments? Questions? More tips? We love to hear from our readers!

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Until next time, keep on enjoying this one & wonderful life,