I hate my children’s toys. There. I said it. I took it off my chest completely in mommy guilt. Honestly, I don’t hate everyone of their toys, but some deserve to go straight in the trash. Toys test a parent’s patience level in the smallest of ways, and the annoyance threshold is often much lower than expected. Toys put to children these days seem to be designed by childless people or those who enjoy torturing parents.
While these opinions may seem a bit dramatic, many parents like me can’t stand their children’s toys. Trust me when I say parenting is not buying these toys for their children. They often come from well-meaning relatives or friends. They usually show up at birthday parties and holidays, thus making it difficult to hide displeasure from the giver or figure out how to sneak into the garage for a trip back to the store. Sometimes they sneak via gift bags to another kid’s birthday party.
My least favorite toys are battery-operated devices that won’t shut down or make huge messes for mom to clean up later (I’m looking at you, slime and kinetic sand). After taking to Twitter to consult with other parents, I’ve come across a variety of pet irritations.
For Jeff Loiselle, a 44-year-old father of two from Bridgewater, Massachusetts, it’s toys that make loud noises. “[There’s] no volume adjustments on many of them,” he notes. “And they’re almost all plastic. No one wants them when the kids are outgrown, because no one wants secondhand plastic.
The father of one Robert Bearden of Winter Haven, Florida, meanwhile, isn’t a fan of toys that require an app download.
“I appreciate that we live in an age where toys can have separate apps,” Bearden says. “However, I hate it. I want my child to be a child and not use apps when playing with toys. Instead, buy items for her child such as dolls and dollhouses to encourage her to “use her imagination and create her own world instead of relying on technology for the game.
Jenn Wint’s toy annoyances include “anything that lights up and sings repetitive songs in high electronic pitches,” the 39-year-old mom of two from Vancouver tells Yahoo Life. “A few years ago, my son was given a microphone that he sang. Luckily he was too young to notice that he never came out of the box. Usually, battery operated gifts are given, passed on or donated.”
Wint shares that her 3-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son are also just starting to play with toys that involve smaller pieces, like Lego sets and marble runs. Although they make no noise, the smaller toys are difficult to clean and keep organized, and she finds that her children stop playing with a toy that doesn’t have all of its pieces faster than other toys.
So what can parents do with toys they hate? Polite society says gifts should be accepted gratefully, but do you have to keep something you or your child will never play with?
“Many friends and family members mean well when they give your child certain toys, but oftentimes those toys turn out to be a headache for you or a safety concern,” Olivia DeLong, , says. preferences for your child in advance, you can gently explain the toys you wish your child didn’t have (and why) and offer a few more ideas instead.
DeLong also shares that creating a list on a shopping website like Amazon gives parents more control over what toys a child can receive, even if donors simply use the list to get ideas. My family has been doing this for several years and have had some success in helping friends and family members gift items that are safe and age appropriate.
But what about those instances where a child receives a toy and it turns out to be a parent’s worst nightmare?
“For toys that are safe, but you’re not crazy about having them around, you can always donate them to local charities, shelters or children’s homes,” suggests DeLong. “You can also call your hospital or doctor’s office to see if they would like to have them for their patients. Your neighbors and friends may also want to take them off.
DeLong says it can be difficult to decide which toy is appropriate and safe for a child’s age and developmental stage. She suggests trying a toy subscription service that curates a range of toys based on your child’s age.
Personally, I’m a fan of experiences over toys or other gifts. It can be tempting to fuel one’s sense of instant gratification with a gift that can be used immediately. However, my family has found that memories of the experience often last longer than a toy. Children grow up without toys, but their memories with their families last forever.
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