It’s time for another post for the little ones. We have just been through a month of big present buying in our family: Alexander turned two in November and of course there’s Chanukah and/or Christmas. As you may know from previous posts, I am quite careful about what toddler PCG gets; both money and space are limited! So, a lot of thought goes into each and every item. Of course most gifts from us to Alexander are toys. What toddler wants a new pair of jeans or a shirt or a pair of socks? No, ours neither unfortunately!
So, it’s the season of excess and this calls for the really extravagant gifts to come out. The oligarchs have arrived, or well, sort of anyway! There are very few of these presents indeed and decisions are taken very seriously. There are lots of criteria to meet. The toy needs to;
1) Hold attention on opening.
This doesn’t mean opening the box, tossing the toy aside and then playing with the box. Neither does it mean tossing the box aside, playing with the toy then getting up to leave the room for a minute and promptly forgetting that said toy ever existed. Toddlers are very good at all of the above and with the vast amount of choice out there to tempt parents into parting with their hard-earned money for very little return, you are very likely to fail on this point without very careful consideration.
2) Hold attention for as long as possible.
By this I mean it must last years rather than minutes, hours, days or weeks. Choose something that is age appropriate now and also for the next couple of years. Again this isn’t easy but many toys evolve along with the child so the child gets different things out of it as he or she gets older. Toys that spark imaginative play are especially good for longevity as imagination knows no bounds.
3) Be durable and last.
See above. There is no use having a toy that your child loves, falling apart on you before it has served its full purpose. For those families with more than one child, in our time of over-consumption, it’s nice to hand toys down from sibling to sibling. Only quality toys will stand the test of time, so go for a tried and tested manufacturer. No flimsy rubbish, it’s just a false economy.
4) Be a toy for all seasons.
From the title of this post, you will have guessed that we went for a playhouse. Not just any old one but one from the famous US company Little Tikes, started way back in 1970, whose Cozy Coupe toy car has become an icon of over 30 years old. They truly know how to make toys that last!
Children these days do not get out enough. Blame this on how our times have become more dangerous than ever before; there is no more playing in the streets, we can’t take our eyes of our precious little ones anywhere we go. Doctors now routinely prescribe vitamin D. Our children aren’t getting enough sunlight to give them what they need. We have televisions, Ipads, Ipods, computer games. It’s nothing new, we all know the score with health. Okay, our weather isn’t great either but believe you me, children do not feel the cold or notice the rain when they are dressed properly and having fun.
It is with this in mind that we decided that a playhouse was the perfect choice. The perfect excuse to get outside in some daylight but at the same time have a little bit of shelter from the elements. Taking the inside out if you like.
You do not need a big garden, in fact we set ours up just outside our back door so that we can sit inside and keep a watch on what Alexander is doing (be warned, this unfortunately doesn’t work all the time as invitations into the house are always forthcoming). This Picnic on the Patio playhouse is just perfect. It comes with two picnic chairs ( good for lazy parents!), food accessories including a burger and a hotdog to cook on the stove and plates to wash in its sink and the higher ceiling means that older kids fit in too. Little Tikes recommend this for 18mnth to 5yrs so get you little one out of doors into the fresh air all year round. If the park closes early, the playhouse is always open, just ring on its bell. (Vitamin D not included!).