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Toys - When less might mean more

toys, pocket money, children savings, minimalism
Children love toys. They are the fabric of learning, they fill our lives with colour and are the glue of many friendships. I can still remember all the dolly tea parties I ran with my super best friend Claudia... endless hours of lining up the mini plates and cups, dressing up teddy bears and inventing stories. I really don't think there's a happier part of life than a childhood spent playing with friends, but very often we seem to go overboard with the amount of toys we allow our children to own.

As reported in a recent survey by the market research firm NPD group, the British people spend a whopping £3bn each year on toys. Their yearly expenditure per child is higher than everybody else in the western world, including the US at £260 ($438)! This would be equivalent to a lump sum of £3,330 on the child's 11th birthday (not that we're suggesting to stop buying toys altogether).

toys per child, expenditure per child, toys, pocket money
The NPD Group Inc.

So how much is too much when it comes to toys? Does money really buy your child's happiness ?

This doesn't appear to be the case as Psychologist Oliver James, author of the parenting book Love Bombing, told the BBC: "Children don't need a vast panoply of toys. Most children need a transition object, their first teddy bear that they take everywhere. But everything else is a socially generated want."

Certainly children need play, as this is an essential part of their development, but that doesn't mean they need many expensive manufactured toys for that. A few well chosen toys (like the excellent Montessori inspired range in this article) and everyday materials are more than enough to unleash creativity and enjoyment without spending a fortune.  I am reminded of this very important fact every time I watch my children entertain themselves for hours with a stick, a stone or a cardboard box, while all the purchased items sit on the shelves.

Having too many toys might even do our kids more harm than good. Joshua Becker, author of the popular blog "Becoming minimalist" and the book "Simplify" believes that keeping toys to a minimum will have important benefits for children such as improving their social skills, enhancing their creativity and problem solving and teaching them to value experience over material possessions.

Another important issue to consider is the environmental impact.  Most toys these days are made of plastic that may never biodegrade; they'll clog our homes and later landfills where they won't see the sunlight necessary for photo-degredation.  This article from the US satirical website "The Onion" explains exactly the point.

If we accept that less toys will not harm our children, but will probably make them better human beings, here is a great opportunity for Hootlooters to save some money and turn their savings goals into reality.  Imagine the reward of a university degree without excessive student debt, or the deep satisfaction of contributing to a worthy cause compared to the short lived happiness of yet another plastic toy car?  Think about the values we parents could be transferring in the process?

These ideas are part of the reason behind Hootloot.




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