Outgrowing Toys

Outgrowing Toys

Late­ly, I’ve been notic­ing some­thing at our house. Kael is 4 years old (5 in Novem­ber), and Asa turned 3 in July. It seems to me that right now their inter­ests and abil­i­ties are prob­a­bly as dif­fer­ent as they have been in quite some time. We have def­i­nite­ly tak­en advan­tage of the fact that they are close in age when buy­ing toys, games, and oth­er play things around our place. We often buy things for them that we know they will both like and be able to use. Up until now, I think this has worked pret­ty well for us. They play togeth­er pret­ty well for the most part.

They have great imag­i­na­tions and do a lot of cre­ative play and imag­i­nary play.

Asa with his cape and water shoes giv­ing me the angry eyes.

They have no prob­lems find­ing things to do when we are out and around town at parks or friends’ hous­es.

Play­ing at one of our favorite parks

The prob­lem (if that’s even what it is) comes when we are at home. Kael is out­grow­ing many of our toys. He’s show­ing more inter­est in read­ing books him­self, spelling things, manip­u­lat­ing num­bers (and mem­o­riz­ing my phone num­ber!), and mazes to name a few of the more “aca­d­e­m­ic” inter­ests he’s show­ing. He’s show­ing less inter­est in his fire trucks, stuffed ani­mals, and oth­er toys. More and more often, I find that he is get­ting out toys, play­ing for just a few min­utes and mov­ing on to some­thing. Some­times the thing he moves on to is anoth­er toy, but many times it’s irri­tat­ing his broth­er. (No pic­tures of that. 🙂 )

For a while I thought maybe he wasn’t get­ting enough active play. Maybe he was too tired and need­ed more sleep. Maybe there was a diet imbal­ance or sen­si­tiv­i­ty to some­thing we were eat­ing. Then, today a friend men­tioned she and anoth­er friend had felt sim­i­lar­ly about their chil­dren who are about Kael’s age.

Anoth­er obser­va­tion that my friend made was that Kael’s birth­day and Christ­mas are about six weeks apart. This means that the major­i­ty of the stuff he gets as gifts comes dur­ing this time peri­od. It also means that by this time of year, most of those things are also geared for some­one almost a year younger than he is. I feel like much of what we have to do around our apart­ment is geared for the 2–4 or 3–5 age range. I also feel like Kael is mov­ing very much into the next brack­et what­ev­er that is. Maybe 4–6 or 5–7? I am not real­ly sure since this is new ter­ri­to­ry, but I think you prob­a­bly get the idea.

What do I do about this? I’m not real­ly sure. There are a few things that Jason and I have thought about and talked about. None of them seem to real­ly solve the prob­lem, so I’m guess­ing the solu­tion is more of a lit­tle of this, lit­tle of that kind of solu­tion vs. a black and white answer.

We talked about get­ting Kael some new stuff. I feel like cring­ing as I even write that sen­tence. On one hand, I know that stuff (games, toys, books, etc.) is not the answer. How­ev­er, on the oth­er hand, I under­stand the val­ue of hav­ing age appro­pri­ate and chal­leng­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties avail­able for him.

We talked about doing some sort of play­date exchange with a friend where one day a week, Kael would go to a friend’s house to play for a few hours. This would give him a change of scenery, some new toys to play with, and a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence than he would have at home. My hes­i­ta­tion with this one is that I can’t just send him to a friend once a week. I would also need to have this friend’s child over to our house for a morn­ing once a week. With the upcom­ing move and a baby on the way this seems over­whelm­ing right now.

We talked (very briefly) about putting him into child­care or preschool for a few hours a week. Nei­ther of these were quite right either. We don’t need some­one to just keep him at a child­care cen­ter and watch him play. We also are not all that excit­ed about most of the options that are avail­able here. There are a cou­ple options that we are com­fort­able with as far as the phi­los­o­phy of the preschool goes, but they don’t work out for oth­er rea­sons. One costs more than we are will­ing or able to spend on a “just because” preschool. Anoth­er is just a cou­ple hours in the morn­ing and requires fair­ly fre­quent par­ent­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion. Between the short time peri­od and the required par­tic­i­pa­tion, I think it would be near­ly impos­si­ble to work out the logis­tics after Baby is born.

As I read through this post, I feel like the last part is quite a bit of, here’s what we could do, but here’s why it won’t work sort of excus­es. I’m actu­al­ly a lit­tle hes­i­tant to leave it like that, because when I have a con­ver­sa­tion with some­one with that atti­tude, I usu­al­ly want to say some­thing like, “Well, I guess you’re stuck.” But, I’m going to leave it most­ly as a train of thought sort of post.

So, what would you do? Have your kids ever out­grown their toys? What toys, games, activ­i­ties, sup­plies, books, etc do you rec­om­mend for an almost 5 year old? Any oth­er thoughts or ideas?

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