Most people who know me know that I’m pretty passionate about my local toy library… to the point where I’ve been a committee member for about 3 years (including holding the Secretary and President roles). Why do I love my toy library so much? Well…. let me count the ways:
- Fortnightly ‘New Toy Day’: first and foremost – as a stay at home mum, the toy library is imperative to my sanity! Oh how I love toy library day. 20 minutes of peace and quiet while the kids explore their new toys… priceless!
- There’s a TOY EXPERT at my fingertips: in the form of the librarian! Seriously, toy library librarians live and breathe toys. They know which toys are the most popular, which ones are best suited for each stage of development, and which toys are the ‘hidden treasures’ of the library (aka the ones which aren’t hired out often but are actually wonderful). Who wouldn’t want a toy expert at their own personal disposal?! If you’re stuck with what toy might suit busy little Tommy who’s 19 months old and you’ve exhausted all your other options, then ask your Toy Librarian!
- DECLUTTERING: being part of a toy library allows me to declutter our own toys at home. Be gone, piles of plastic rubbish toys that never get used and annoy the crap out of me! Because I know that I can just hire toys whenever we want, I have absolutely no qualms about getting rid of toys that don’t fill us with joy (Marie Kondo, eat your heart out!).
- ECO FRIENDLY: by choosing to be a part of a toy library, I’m choosing an eco friendly option to providing my kids with toys that are developmentally appropriate. Each toy has been used over and over again, and will continue to do so after us; how good is that!
- COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: toy libraries promote involvement in your local community. When I was new to our area, the toy library was one way I chose to engage at a grass-roots level of the community. It was a great way to see a familiar face (the librarian) every two weeks, and get to know other parents in the area by volunteering alongside them.
- VOLUNTEERING: volunteering is good for your mental wellbeing. Yes, this is proven by research, and is promoted by the Mental Health Foundation of NZ as a way to stay well. As an occupational therapist who’s worked in mental health in the past, I’ve seen first hand how isolated people can get. People get an immense self esteem boost by volunteering somehow in their local communities. By giving a few hours back to the toy library each term, our members are helping themselves, as well as the library – it’s a win/win really.
- ‘TRY BEFORE YOU BUY‘: a few times I’ve not been sure if a certain toy would engage my children. For example, is my child ready for a balance bike? What size pedal bike should we get? Lo and behold – the answer is to hire it from the library first, easy peasy! You can also make suggestions to the committee of toys that you think would be good for them to purchase. This is especially good for more expensive toys that you’d like your child(ren) to play with. A recent one that I suggested was this amazing Rock-it board . As you can see, it’s a winner in our house.
- PROMOTING ‘PLAY’ AS ‘WORK’: finally, I love my toy library because it acknowledges the concept of ‘play’ as children’s ‘work’. We are providing a service to our community that helps children to spend more time in play, which is immensely valuable from a developmental point of view. Let them be little!
So, there’s eight reasons why I love my toy library. Unfortunately, many toy libraries around NZ struggle to gain new or retain members. If you’ve ever thought about joining one, now’s the time. We don’t want to lose these precious resources of our communities. You can find your nearest one on the Toy Library Federation of NZ’s website here.