Challenge of Not Buying Kids Stuff during COVID

An overcast threatening-rain morning seemed the perfect time to take our young kids to the wading pool- perfect for avoiding crowds that is. Within an hour of our return home from the pool I had ordered water toys and a soaker sprinkler…we’ll avoid the wading pool for now.

From the mom who emptied her dog’s dish to let her son use it as a bucket in the water, to the swarms of screaming children-my COVID safety vision meant it was a short dip for our kiddos.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I’ve always tried to reign in the amount of toys in our small home by not buying things readily available in the community . After all, we chose our neighbourhood precisely because we live a 5-minute walk from the library and four parks -one with a huge pirate ship themed splash pad and outdoor pool.

Why amass a huge toddler book collection when, thanks to the library, we only need to have those ‘please read it again’ winners on our bookshelves? Similarly the free early years drop-in program up the road means I don’t need to personally store a race car track for the kids- the centre has that pleasure.

And then along came COVID and I have since been unable to close my recycling bin lid due to all the shipping packaging.

Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

We are in the privileged position of having a backyard and two incomes unaffected by the pandemic. So while splash pads and pools are now reopened we can choose to avoid those crowds by ordering our own sprinklers, kiddie pool and water toys.

Likewise, the library is now offering online ordering but unfortunately baby board books aren’t well categorized so I’ll need to order the black and white high contrast books for our newborn if we’d like those in the house.

COVID has taught my four and two-year old (and me) a lot about entertaining ourselves without the usual distractions of playgrounds, play dates and community programming. I love our daily walks by the lake and the fact that both kids can now easily identify red wing blackbirds, gros-becs, and cormorants.

Image by Meatle from Pixabay

I am also grateful that I can choose to buy those items we can no longer easily access even though it has meant stepping away from my minimalist values. I only wish I’d come to peace with owning more playground equipment when trampolines were still in stock.

Featured image: Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Kiddie Size Freebies

I ask my three-year old if he would like to accompany me to the dentist and get a quick ‘yes, they have the toy box’. By toy box he means the treasure chest from which he’ll get to pick one or two free tiny toys. Dollar store toys designed to last a day.

While my dentist is lovely and so great with kids, I know its the draw of the treasure chest that in part creates the positive association. Ditto for the hair dresser.

The minimalist in me wants to stop things at the door, but I also know that at this point I can still easily make toys disappear later if they don’t captivate my kids.

But most purged free ‘treasure chest’ type toys are not even fit for the donation bag. The quickly end up having the same fate as kinder egg toys and loot bag fillers…the landfill.

Knowing the devastating impacts of climate change it feels irresponsible to accept cheap toys with a one-day life span.

“We’re facing an immediate unprecedented crisis that has never been treated as a crisis…We need to wake up and change everything” Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg

But I’m torn. I don’t want to deprive my kids of the same experiences I had. I loved the treasure chest as a kid. I continued to eat happy meals despite my grandma insisting I was old enough for a Big Mac.

These small delights made ordinary things like dinner and dentists fun. I would feel like an extremist scrooge says ‘no’ to these things.

To avoid loot bags I’d basically have to turn down birthday party invitations or risk a melt down and offending another well-meaning mom by refusing the gesture.

I’ve been thinking of discreetly bringing in my own durable or waste free substitute for the dentist to offer. Perhaps a book that we fell in love when we loaned it from the library or a gift certificate to the local ice cream shop (if that doesn’t violate a dentist code of ethics).

My son won’t get same the thrill of choosing his very own toy from a mountain of toys but I think its still fun and definitely things that he likes.

I’m not striving to be a zero waster but this just might be one small change I can make for now.