Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stop freaking out. Sticks and rocks are awesome.

Sorting through my three year old son's toys and deciding what to pack or give away before moving overseas brought with it a special kind of guilt and stress.

We gave away van loads of toys. The only items that made it into our suitcases were a deflated soccer ball, skateboard, scooter, handful of cars, a stuffed bear, and books. Only the most favorite of the favorites made it.

"Don't worry, Anisha. Kids are fine playing outside with sticks and rocks." Yeah, sure, sticks and rocks are fun, but they can't take the place of all this other stuff he needs.

I mean, have you ever been to Learning Express? That place is amazing. Rows and rows of toys that are not only fun, but educational. All the things my child needs to safely and cleanly develop gross and fine motor skills, develop a love for science and math, prepare for a lifetime of learning, and endless opportunities for imaginative play.

I've read the parenting books and blogs for crying out loud. My preschooler needs a sensory bin. His neural pathways are at risk without one.

Since a sensory bin didn't fit in my suitecase and clinging to the hope I can pull one together and figure out the rest in our new country, we moved overseas.

OK, so at this point all you experienced parents are probably shaking your heads, but I'm new at this parenting gig and sometimes I freak out a little. I know that. After scaling down the toy selection so dramatically, here's what I also know: You are right.

Without the beloved sensory bin, we dig in the dirt.

Instead of a kid size kitchen, we create elaborate dinners with cut up leaves, branches, rocks, and whatever else can be found.

The mini work bench with oversized screws and plastic hammer is replaced with the opportunity to use real tools (with supervision of course!). Helping to hammer down nails or working with a spade and fork to prepare and manage the garden.   

Without a playground or swing set nearby, we climb and swing from trees.

After four months without a toy filled room inside, we spend a lot of time outside. We know our neighbors and learn so much about the culture. We are all better for it.

To my pre-Papua stressed out mommy self worried about the opportunities my son would have to learn and grow: You are well intentioned, but stop it. Rocks and sticks are awesome. There's a whole world out there and you are beyond blessed to experience it without the weight and distraction of far too many toys.

Our usual playground


Over at Velvet Ashes this week the theme is "Hindsight". Head on over and check out what others are saying!


  1. Go Anisha. I so agree and not to mention the Commercialism and Advertising that shames us into buying the latest products, not really for our Children's benefit, but to make money for the companies that sell them. I say give children a real earth experience and abandon any sense of guilt.

    1. Thank Jane! Yes, the guilt of I have to make sure my child has all this 'stuff' is crazy.

  2. Recalling a line in a poem by Adrienne Rich:
    "I am thinking of how to use what we have
    to create what we need"
    and this is what you learned and share here!

    1. Exactly! :) thanks for stopping by and reading!

  3. Truth. I've been amazed at how content my children are with me just drawing them a picture of a something & they use that as their toys. Swords. Painting materials. Notebook & pen. Hoping that lasts a long time. Glad to have found your blog.

    1. Yep! And I love to see all that creativity at work. I'm hoping it lasts a long time too!

  4. Fantstic! It is easier to use stuff as a buffer against connection to our own children and other people. I love the simplicity yet richness of what you are giving your son!