It’s funny how becoming a parent changes the composition of things. The box used to be a catchall for our stuff. We’d stash the laptop there. We’d lazily wind our cell phone chargers and toss them in, too. When we wanted to tidy up, whatever books we were in the middle of reading would get thrown in, dog-eared for later. But around this time last year we started to receive little gifts in anticipation of a baby.
A set of blocks. A rattle. A small collection of books.
So I relegated the phone chargers and computer cords to other corners and cleared out the crate. Every time we were given something new, I’d unwrap it and rearrange the contents of the toy box so that the blocks fit just so or the rattle had a place to rest.
I still have the weekly ritual. Rearranging the box so that Faye’s toys fit it in more or less neatly. They get jumbled over the course of the week. Played with, tossed back in, and played with again. We’ve outgrown the wine crate a bit, so the books now get stacked in their own separate box. At the end of the week, I sort through the boxes and put everything back in its place. Teethers and rattles and colorful balls on a string get zipped into pouches. Alphabet blocks get pushed to one side. It’s a calming practice for me. A quiet moment for finding a bit of order after a busy week.
While parenting quickly quashes the notion that you’re in complete control of anything, it can be funny the ways in which that crops up. I’d imagined buying a few precious toys for Faye myself. I’d planned to wait and see what she needed or wanted or what happened to strike my fancy. But the truth is that we’ve been given so many toys as gifts that I haven’t added to the collection much myself at all. Gratefully, almost all of the toys we’ve been given have been in keeping with what we’d hoped for. Wood, mostly. Toys borrowed from Montessori and Waldorf traditions with an emphasis on leaving room for imagination over anything else.
In general, we haven’t been overwhelmed by too many toys, though we have left a toy or two at her respective grandparents’ houses. And a duplicate item or two has found itself in the donation pile.
Like most everything else involving Faye, we’re taking things a step at a time. Her toys will surely eventually outgrow this box. And of course, we still have parties and birthdays and another decade of life (at least) to get through before I can declare victory over an onslaught of toys. But for now, we’ve been able to keep things simple by resisting the temptation ourselves to buy her more than she needs and by gently nudging insistent grammies and grandpas in the right direction.
Because so many of you have written asking for recommendations, I’ve put together a little resource list for places to find sweet toys. If you have other suggestions to add, please do!
Acorn Toy Shop: My favorite local stop for heirloom-quality toys (with an online shop, too.)
Babyccino Kids: Some of the very sweetest shops on the internet, all pulled together in one easy-to-browse space.
BellaLuna: Waldorf, wooden, and imaginative toys for babies and big kids.
Brimful: In their words: “modern whimsical” toys for kids.
Brookfarm General Store: A solid collection of beautiful toys to match the rest of the shop.
Diaperkind: Our diaper service, who happens to also stock a beautiful toy or two, including Faye’s round rattle.
Madesmith: Home to a gorgeous collection of dollies by Erika Barratt
Meus Shop: For the sweetest teether blankets I’ve seen among other treasures.
More & Co.: For brightly colored blocks, etc.
Norman & Jules: Another delightful Brooklyn shop, chock-full of sweet toys, crafts, and other kiddo things.
Over the Ocean: Specializing in European toys.
Wilson & Willy’s: A source for very sweet stuffies and Faye’s beautiful building blocks.
PS. If you’re looking for a good read on the subject of kids and toys, I recently read Simplicity Parenting and found a breath of fresh air.
PPS. If you’re looking for more specific ideas, I update my “things for little ones” Pinterest board with treasures for admiring fairly often.