I am pretty vicious about toys around here. When my world is falling down around me in chaos and fire, I go to the playroom and I purge. If my kids haven’t touched a toy in months, GOOD DAY, SIR. It feels soooooo good.
And nope, I don’t make this a family decision. I don’t ask the children what they would like to donate, I don’t care. You don’t play with it? How would you even know it still exists if I don’t point it out to you and ask you to say goodbye to it, thus making my life harder than it should be?
They have literally NEVER gone looking for a long lost toy after I’ve sent it off for donation. Which is a lot.
After my last round of Weakest Toys You Are Fired, I noticed there are some really good eggs that have been around a long time, along with some new additions that I think will be around years from now, too.
But, like, not actually puzzles with pieces. Because the minute a puzzle is officially missing a piece, I want so badly to throw it in recycling. I crave trashing that useless box of future messes and tantrums.
No, these “puzzles” are the kind where they physically can not loose a piece. And this one teaches children to manipulate locks! Which is either educational or terrifying, depending on how you look at it, but either way, there’s no way this is going to stop being functional without a screwdriver.
This one is awesome in that the cars can all drive around the board, but they never come off, and they ARE SILENT.
2. Books (okay, they aren’t “toys” but they live with the toys)
Listen, I’m no monster. If the kids haven’t read a book in 6 months, I still keep it. I REALLLLLY have to hate a book to get rid of it. Or hide it. But there are definitely some that have shaped our future purchasing decisions when it comes to stocking the shelves.
3. Magna Doodle
This was a random purchase for Kendall’s 2nd Christmas because he was really into drawing on things that were not paper.
It’s seen A LOT of use, this Magna Doodle. And there are days when all 3 kids will fight over it, which is always a sign of something useful. It’s also pretty fun for road trips.
Kendall, my blessed 1st born, went to Gymboree 3 times a week for the first 18 months of his life. There were massive parachutes there that were so much fun, and also super expensive and impossible for one adult to operate. I got him a small one from Right Start wayyyyy back in the day on clearance.
We don’t play with it every day, but it’s always something fun and surprising to pull out, and especially sure to make babies smile and laugh if you gently shake it over them. Or possibly make them cry. I guess it depends on the baby. This 6 foot Funchute is comparable and a really good price.
5. Play Food & Dishes
This box of mostly wooden Melissa & Doug play food and dishes gets played with all. the. time. There’s not much to say other than kids like to pretend to make you a cup of coffee and bowl of butter, watermelon and lemon salad. And then they LOVE telling you to open wide and try to shove it all in your mouth.
6. BLOCKS BLOCKS BLOCKS
Mega Bloks are always the gateway. I regret a lot of things I did as a new mom, but I don’t regret buying up a bunch of these at consignment sales. I’ve never been tempted to throw them out.
From Mega Bloks, we graduated to DUPLOs, which are the bigger, less ouchy and less choke hazard-y version of LEGOs.
That is not remotely close to all of them (the Mega Bloks, either) but I didn’t feel like cleaning the playroom before writing this post. I’m sure you understand.
Finally, Kendall really got into Lincoln Logs at about age 5.
Now, of course we have LEGOs (tons!) but those don’t live in the playroom. We keep them in the bigs rooms and won’t step foot in there unless they are picked up.
7. Tool Bench
This was the big gift for Kendall for his 2nd Christmas. I was worried he would be too young for it, and he kinda was, but he grew into it quickly and all three kids have enjoyed pulling up on it and pounding away from an early age.
This exact model of tool bench by Little Tikes seems to be out of production, but there are quite a few other options out there.
These next few are new additions to the playroom that I think have great potential to not suck as time goes on.
8. Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway
We’ve had that train table since Kendall was a toddler, and I did buy him some Ikea train tracks back then, but he was never able to stand still long enough to enjoy them. If you know anything about our littlest, Lowell, though, you know he is OBSESSED with Thomas and trains.
It turns out that all 3 kids will stand around this and play together now. The joy! I fully intend to whip out the ol’ wooden trains when the grandkids come to visit one day.
This wobbly stacker thing was a gift for Lowell’s first Christmas, and it’s been rolled, stacked, knocked, played the role of ice cream and monster faces. It’s just a great, fun, simple toy. And it looks cool. Also, we’re missing a piece and I will not sleep tonight until I find it. I guess that means I should clean the playroom.
10. Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Lantern
We’ve had this guy less than a year, but he’s just such a fun, happy toy. Minimal annoyance, cute songs, sweet face, easy to use, EASY TO TURN OFF. The Laugh & Learn Lantern plays music and lights up when you push the top button, and then sweetly dims itself.
11. My First Anywhere Chair
The Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair is pretty popular, but I’ve never been a fan of the big ones. Our older kids have Land Of Nod beanbags that I think will grow with them much longer.
This one is a My First Anywhere Chair, though. It’s smaller and cheaper. I actually purchased one for Leyna from this site that sells PBK brand covers with generic inserts when she was a toddler. Then I just bought a replacement cover (personalized) from PBK when we passed it down to Lowell. The insert has held up spectacularly.
This thing gets dragged around, jumped on, and sat on multiple times a day.
12. Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car
Every time I think Lowell has outgrown this car, he crawls back in and plays contentedly. He got it when he wasn’t even 6 months, for his 1st Christmas. He practiced sitting up in it, then practiced pulling up on, then climbing on it, now he stands on it and jumps off of it. It probably has the shortest life span of all the toys I’ve listed here, but has probably been played with the most.
There are others, I’m sure. And you? What are the real winners in your house? Tried and true, ones you wouldn’t feel guilty gifting to another family?
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