All He Really Needed Was My Time

31 Jan

cardboard boxI am in the process of diving into nooks and crannies in our garage to gather and give away any toys that might be useful to other young kids.

When I look at the number of Lego’s, Lincoln Logs, and light sabers acquired over the course of my firstborn son’s early years, it brings back memories of the guilt I felt that John needed a legion of toys to be properly stimulated.

The thing is, I knew better.

I knew that all my son really needed was my time.

Time spent sitting on the floor with him playing with pots, pans and wooden spoons. Time spent using a  homemade sock puppet to make up stories. Time spent sitting on my lap listening to books being read to him.

My professional background told me that basic, everyday, interactive materials were always best.

Honestly, I did interact with my son in these simple ways.  But, somehow I seemed to get caught up in the toy buying guilt game anyway.  A friend may have purchased a “fantastic educational toy” for her child and somehow I found myself “keeping up with the mommies.”

If I had it to do over again, I would have listened to my intuition, knowledge of child development and my MOTHER who knew what worked with her 6 children.  The simple things found around our house got us through our childhoods.  We didn’t suffer.  Rather, I have a multitude of memories making houses out of large cardboard boxes, forts out of trees on our side yard and a school house out of a large closet.  We always seemed to find the accessories necessary to make our play time successful.  I guess half of the fun was using our imaginations to problem solve the means to make our play schemes satisfying.

Please don’t think I’m suggesting that parents shouldn’t purchase ANY toys for their young kids.  I am simply boyandgirlingrasssaying that if you find that your toddler prefers cardboard tubes over toy train sets, go with it.  Whatever ways you find to interact with your child, your time will always mean more than the investment made in a fancy educational toy.

You CAN parent guilt-free. Besides, you’ll save money that you can put toward your child’s college education.

Believe me, you’ll appreciate it when the time comes!

I would love to hear about any simple activities or toy suggestions you may have to offer!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Cate Pane

3 Responses to “All He Really Needed Was My Time”

  1. susanschiferl January 31, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    Some of my best childhood memories were making things out of boxes and blankets. My brother and I made all kinds of things like spaceships (which included closing the box up and getting a narrated, bumpy journey) to houses (with kitchens including sinks and the like). Whenever I am with any children I nanny, they have the most fun when we build our own little forts. Cardboard boxes are the best toy you can (not) buy!

  2. Shannon February 1, 2014 at 5:29 am #

    I completely agree. People need to give their kids time not toys! I think some do it to compensate for the lack of time they give them, but it’s not the same thing. It’s hard, I know, but its well worth it.

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