Theo has never had very many toys. We follow a somewhat Montessori-ish parenting philosophy, and his room back in California had a low shelf that held about six fairly simple activities at a time. We’d rotate these with a closet-stock about twice that size, and give away toys soon after he outgrew them.
It’s not that we’re opposed to toys exactly; however, with everything in the world that already fascinates him (puddles! leaves! sand!), we just feel like it is unnecessary for him to have a plethora of additional possessions, especially when so many toys are jangling, beeping, button-y, adrenaline-inspiring things things. (Abstaining from this sort of toy is not just about Theo. We value our own sanity and would rather avoid the jangling and beeping. This is also why Theo listens to Smashing Pumpkins and Ani DiFranco.)
Not having a lot of toys encourages us to incorporate Theo into our everyday lives, from helping in the kitchen to feeding our neighbor’s cat.
It also encourages us to go out; we’ve always been a big fan of playgrounds, parks, and libraries.
(Okay, so maybe it also encourages Theo to try to snatch toys from other children at the park, but we’re 93% sure he’d try to do this anyway, being a toddler and all.)
Now that we’re traveling, having lots of toys isn’t even an option. From place to place we bring: several small rubber animals, an etch-a-sketch-like drawing board, a wind-up baby, a wooden top, a bubble wand, and a toy car.
(These animals have seen many beaches.)
In addition to these small traveling toys, many of the places we have stayed have games or activities of some sort, which has provided instant toy rotation as we move from place to place.
(By the time we left Skibbereen, Theo had memorized most of the people in Guess Who.)
As before, though, many of the things that he’s most interested in are not toys at all. In Skibbereen,Theo loved helping in the kitchen and hanging up the laundry. (“Helping” might not be quite aggressive enough of a word at times. We’re still awaiting the stage of developing empathy, and for now, Theo wants to help, not wants to help.) In Wexford, Theo loved the dogs. In Paris, Theo loved the kitchen mop. These might not be conventional toys, but I don’t believe for a minute that he’d be getting more out of life in a room filled with toys.