It’s hard to believe it, but Christmas is coming! And if your child is anything like mine, they want everything — from the cupcake maker they’ve seen on TV to the scooter they spotted one time last week in the park. In a world where they’re surrounded by a constant stream of YouTube videos featuring every toy under the sun, who can blame them?
But, of course, no child can have everything (we wouldn’t want them to, anyway!) and choices must be made. In this household, we have the double-whammy of a Christmas Eve birthday followed by another day of celebration, and we try to limit it to one toy per occasion. We also live in a small London flat, and we’ve no desire to have our limited space overwhelmed with more plastic fantastic toys that we’ll trip over for the next year. Plus, we’ve found that the more toys available, the less time spent playing with any of them!
So — how to find two toys that will hold a four-year-old’s attention for longer than five minutes, and that won’t be shoved to the back of the closet for months to come?
Lego. Any parent knows the excruciating pain of stepping on a piece of Lego with your bare foot, but there’s a reason Lego is ever-present: it’s hours of fun. Build things, tear them down, and repeat ad nauseum . . . it’s the game that can go on forever! It’s great for stretching the imagination, and Lego has different ranges for different ages, from Duplo for the younger ones to intricate designs for the older children. And if you want to try before you buy, there’s a huge new Lego store opening up in Leicester Square this week.
Play Doh. It might be a bit messy at times, but it’s the toy that keeps on giving . . . if you can call lurid coloured dough a ‘toy’. There are literally hundreds of accessories you can buy your child to accompany the dough, available on a multitude of sites from Argos to Amazon. My son is gunning for the Ice Cream Treats set. And if, like me, you’re too lazy to make the dough yourself, you can buy lots of little cannisters of it.
Scooter. Okay, so winter might not be the ideal time to brave the wind and rain and take a scooter to the park. But sometimes you need to just get out, and never more so than when you’ve been stuck inside with a four-year-old all afternoon. My pick is the Micro Mini. It’s not cheap, but it’s sturdy and durable — my son has had his since he was 18 months old. It comes with different handles you can slot in and out as your child progresses.
Walking & Talking Robot. Who can argue with a robot? Especially one that will say what you want, and dance to music? My son has his eye on the I-Que Robot, with an app you can download to your phone. The robot uses Bluetooth to connect with your mobile, which acts as a control. Hours of fun!
The Hating Game
Watching Willow Watts
Build A Man
Construct a Couple
Marriage to Measure
The Pollyanna Plan
The No-Kids Club