I had an entirely different topic in mind for today's post, but then I read today's post on the Lusa Organic's blog and changed direction completely. She touches on the idea that all those fancy (and often terribly expensive) Waldorf loved toys are really not necessarily worth it in the end. Kind of a shocking admission from someone so heavily loved in the Waldorf community right? Well I think there is definitely truth behind what she is saying.
As parents it is easy for us, even while spouting the merits of simplicity and minimalism, to go completely overboard with purchasing toys for our kids. Lets face it, buying stuff for our kids is fun. There are so many great things out there and it is easy to get swept up in all the fun. I know I've certainly caught myself doing the very same thing. Even in, or maybe especially in, the Waldorf circles I find this to be true as well. There are so many truly beautiful and magical toys that it is easy to want to copy those incredible looking Waldorf playrooms and everything in them. Surely a childhood filled with such wonderful and imaginative toys is the way to raise our children, right? I know that I found myself wanting the girls to have all these things that, if I'm being completely honest, they rarely loved as much as I did. I often complained about the number of toys strewn about, but I know now that often it was me who was at fault.
I'm a member of several Waldorf related groups online and often see families lamenting over the price of the coveted "name brand" toys. When I started on this Waldorf journey I felt the same way they did, wondering how we'd ever be able to afford all the beautiful pieces that seemed to be a requirement in this lifestyle. Though I couldn't quite bring myself to purchase the expensive Ostheimer toys no matter how much others seemed to love them - and even though my head kept trying to convince me that we needed them. I suppose I can thank my mother for that frugal gene that saved me in this instance. After all, it was the simplicity and handmade qualities of Waldorf that drew me to it initially so why was I letting myself get sucked in by all the "must haves"? It had to be stopped. No matter how beautiful or natural the toys were, too much was still too much.
That isn't to say that there aren't beautiful toys that are cherished and loved, quite the opposite. My girls have their favorites that they insist they will keep even as adults. There are certainly purchases that were more than worth making. Just, perhaps, there were a few more made than necessary.
You've likely all said something along the lines of "kids don't really need toys anyway" at some point on this parenting journey. I know I have, very recently in fact. We've all seen the child playing with the box rather than the toy and laughed over how it is often the simplest things that entertain a child.
Countless times over the years we have pared down the number of toys in our home, reevaluating what was really loved and cherished. Certainly some of the toys that were chosen to keep weren't what I would have thought. Sometimes I had to really let go and realize that they weren't going to love the same things I did, no matter how much I wanted them to. And sometimes they surprised me even more by cherishing the simple handmade toys we crafted together above anything else.
So it isn't unusual to see that the Loopsy dolls have taken over the dollhouse...
Or that a herd of plastic dinosaurs are holding our beloved Waldorf dolls hostage...
It really is about not getting sucked in to the idea that you must have all these things to make a perfect home or to be a perfect parent, no matter what circle you happen to be in. Less really can be more. Most days you'll find the girls outside playing sheriff with only an old piece of rope and their imaginations because really, that's all they need.