10 Reasons Why Having LESS Toys Is Good For Your Children?

Lately, the two littlest in our household started to lead a lifestyle of a hoarder. They not only receive a lot of gifts (a lot of times without any specific reason or special occasion) but they also collect junklike stuff they want to keep and play with. Like colourful empty bottles, tissue paper, ribbons, etc. My eldest even steals things from the nursery, I keep finding random little objects in his pockets when we get home. We still have the top of his wardrobe full of unopened presents from his birthday. Untouched Kinder surprise eggs hiding in the kitchen which he keeps getting from the grandparents by the box of 5 (!!!). It takes a lot of effort from us to make our lovely folks to understand that they simply have to stop buying too much stuff for the children. We look like really mean parents! But, they don’t need (and they are definitely not going to get) a surprise egg every day. We are running out of space to store toys they are not playing with. Lots of them break or stop working within a few weeks or months and end up in landfill. So I decided to declutter. And declutter regularly.

These are my reasons, but if this isn’t enough reason to declutter and cut down on impulse buys, here’s some more:

1. Encouraging innovative thinking

They simply have to invent plays and games to entertain themselves. For children, this supposed to be a natural way of discovering the world and part of their development. Like using empty food cartons and boxes to create a shop instead of buying a miniature plastic toy shop set. (With 120 pieces.) Or make some. Just use a real jute bag when they go pretend play shopping. Use carton boxes and build a car. They will soon start to change their way of thinking and play with what’s available.

2. Learning to ask for permission 

Naturally, some things are forbidden and they are not toys. Some things they should never touch. They will learn sooner what objects in the household are not allowed to play with and what are they used for.

4. Becoming more creative 

Going hand in hand with innovative thinking, it enables children to make use of things. Use that tissue paper collection to cover the racing car made of an empty cardboard box. Cut out numbers of paper. The car also needs wheels, lamps, a car key maybe?

5. Playing independently 

They engage better with the fewer toys they have. The experience is talking over here. Not long ago, my firstborn always wanted to play with the IPad. (We use IPad strategically, and he gets a half an hour here and there, 2-3x a week.) He was BORED. Wondering around, trying to figure it out what to play with, picked some toy up, played with that for a minute or two, then wandering around again aimlessly. So we put two-third of the toys away. All of a sudden the remaining toys became interesting. Why? Because:

6. Too much stuff causes stress 

Not just in children, it effects everyone. I personally feel very anxious when the mess is bigger what I than I can tolerate and things are not at their normal place or not being put away. So, when my little boy becomes anxious he starts to run around, from wall to wall in the hall, sometimes for 10-15 minutes till he gets very tired. This is how he copes with overstimulation and anxiety. Nowadays, this happens a lot less since we’re doing conscious efforts to declutter regularly, he’s a calmer and more cooperative too.

7. Less toys teaches the idea of sharing and taking turns

Sharing is an important milestone in social communication and the one which parents find quite frustrating whilst learning is still in progress. At every play date, every time at the soft play or on the play ground all you can hear is “Share, sweetheart, share please!” Teaching  taking turns and sharing becomes easier when they have less toys. Also, they will be less selfish. A child, who gets everything on a silver plate believes it’s just natural and soon starts to have demands, often not reasonable ones.

8. Encourage imaginative play

For parents like me, this is an important issue. My eldest has never been great at imaginative play, he still needs lots of help to get started. Imaginative play is a key milestone in a child’s development. With all the talking, music making, interactive toys there’s little room left for the imagination to fly. If they have difficulties to get to use their imagination, like my boy, we have found it’s a good idea to play stories from their favourite books. Creating our very own mini theatre.

9. Consume less and consciously 

Buying less and carefully select a few toys only means buying less rubbish which will be thrown away in no time. It saves money, tears, and teaches them to choose wisely. It’s a greener approach. It teaches them patience and that it’s worth waiting for something. I remember how long I waited for my first Barbie doll, how much I wanted to have one and how long I cherished and looked after the first one I got. I want my children to have a sweet memory like that.

10. Less tidying up

Bonus. How much time do you spend with tidying up? How about adding to that all the time you spend arguing and negotiating with your children about it? Yep. Thought so. This can be also saved by downsizing the toy arsenal. The children would be more willing to tidy up as the result is within an easier reach.

Maybe some more can be added to the list, did I miss something? Please leave a comment.

 

Real Mum Reviews

Review: From Earth To Earth Bamboo Toothbrush

I was very much looking forward to test this toothbrush. I completely ruin a toothbrush in every 2-3 weeks. Don’t ask me how, I probably just brush like a maniac. Which means, I go through a lot of toothbrushes a year. Unfortunately, I never quite got used to the electric ones, I just miss my own brushing action. Lots of toothbrushes mean lots of plastic waste. Billions of them are getting discarded yearly. Many of them ends up in the ocean. Along with plastic bottles, plastic bags and fast fashion clothing item fibres, toothbrushes are posing serious threat to the nature.

So when From Earth To Earth asked me to review their bamboo toothbrush, I happily said yes. I received a soft bristles toothbrush although, I would normally prefer medium one. (Better fit for my manic brushing style.)

About the toothbrush:

It’s made of 100% biodegradable, natural bamboo. (Just chuck it in the garden when finished, but pull out the bristles first.) Bamboo is one of the world’s fastest naturally renewing resource. Bamboo is anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. That’s good to know, since you’re going to put it in your mouth. The bristles are made of BPA free nylon. It comes either soft or medium bristles and you can choose a single or a family pack of 4 with clever colour coding, so you won’t mix them up. Price-wise, the single toothbrush costs £4 and the family pack costs £15. Which, I’d say it’s a little bit expensive, but unfortunately all new ecofriendly innovations cost more money then the plastic mass production.

Review: 

Overall, I was very pleased with the toothbrush. It’s a brilliant product. The soft bristles did the job. The only thing I missed is the jagged design of the plastic bristles. But then I also floss, so problem is solved. I’ve been using it for 3 weeks now, so far happy with the result. I’d change the inner sleeve for a paper one instead of the styrofoam type material otherwise it is still way more ecofriendly than any other brand from the supermarket.

I received this product for my honest, unbiased review. It passed the test for me, I can really recommend it. You can also buy it on Amazon.co.uk.

 

15+1 Gift Ideas For Father’s Day – The Ethical And Ecofriendly Edit

Lately, I got to know a lot of great, small indy shops and places with ethical and eco friendly goodies and values. Some of them are start ups, the others are established, but they all have one thing in common: the visionary people behind them, who are passionate about a greener, fairer future.

With Father’s Day is just around the corner (18th of June), I thought it would be nice to introduce my favourite new ethical and ecofriendly shops, so I put this gift guide together with really cool present ideas for all the daddies in your life. Enjoy browsing and spread the love.

1. Pigeon Baseball Tee From Lost Shapes

I’m a huge fan of baseball tees. It’s 100% organic cotton. The stencils are hand drawn, hand cut, and hand screen printed in the Lost Shapes studio. All Lost Shapes tops are sourced from manufacturers that are held to account by the independent Fair Wear Foundation. To read more (there’s a lot more reasons to love their products!) visit their site. Lost Shapes is founded by a young and talented designer: Anna Brindle. £23

2. Family Day Out On The Bocketts Farm

Bocketts is located in the picturesque Surrey Hills and one of our favourite, local family day out destinations. Last year I wrote a review about how much did we enjoy our first visit, read it here: Family Day Out At The Bocketts Farm. I love thoughtful presents, but nothing beats the gift of being together and having quality time. Adult tickets at £10.50

3. Eco Friendly Razor Set From ManOrganic

A very manly gift, isn’t it? These razors are completely recyclable, the handle is made out of yogurt cups, 100% recycled, #5 plastic and recyclable after use. Pair it up with something equally cool from ManOrganic, browse for more ideas. £6.99

4. Solar Powered And Wind-Up Radio From Re-Wind

It’s portable, has a built-in LED torch and a built-in headphone jack. No need for batteries to power, you can charge it by solar power, wind up or USB charging. Saves money and energy. £19.99 Available at Amazon.co.uk: NEW Re-Wind Wind-Up Solar Powered Rechargeable Portable AM/FM Radio with built-in LED Torch and USB Charging Port (Cable Included) – No Batteries Required – LCD Display, Alarm Clock, Headphone Socket

5. Clock Made Of Upcycled Vintage Kodak Tin

Found this clock on ReMadeInBritain and it was love at the first sight. I absolutely love this idea, just too cool, isn’t it? It’s also a limited edition. £25

6. Wise Owl Tea Jamaican Lemongrass and Sage Organic Tea (Pack of 1, Total 15 Tea Bags)

I love Wise Owl Teas. They only contain organic ingredients. Thumbs up for that. This one is great for a morning brew, although naturally caffeine-free. The lemongrass with the sage makes such a unique combination, a must try. £6.99

7. Peshtamal Towel From Cotton And Olive

These fantastically colourful towels are hand woven, so each and every one is a piece of art. Can be double up as a sofa throw, a sarong or even a tablecloth! £27

8. Reusable Bamboo Coffee Cup From Surfers Against Sewage

Made of organic from bamboo fibre (the world’s fastest growing, most sustainable crop). It is also BPA and phthalate free and doesn’t contain petrochemical plastic. Available in 6 colours. Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is an environmental charity protecting the UK’s oceans, waves and beaches for all to enjoy safely and sustainably, via community action, campaigning, volunteering, conservation, education and scientific research. £12

9. Notebook With Cover Made Of A Vintage London Map From WowThankYou

I just love this idea and it’s so beautiful. A stunning, handmade item. Truly one of a kind. A North London map journal, made from a continuous section of a genuine Bartholomew’s vintage map which is at least 50 years old. £10.50

10. Lilliput Dorset Gin

With home-grown organic Rosemary, organic Basil from Egypt, organic Thyme from Spain and organic fresh water fermented Kalamata Olives from Greece. Lilliput is a proudly rainbow micro business which supports equality and diversity. £33

11. Earth Monk Organic Cotton Hoodie

100% organic cotton. 10% (excluding VAT) goes directly towards helping sustain the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, its people, traditions and biodiversity. Even more cool stuff in their webshop. £55

12. Seedball Pick And Mix Gift Set

Seedball founders Ana and Emily (girlpower!) are conservation scientists and their plan is to save the bees, the butterflies and the wildflowers. Seedballs are fool proof: just pop on top of soil, water and watch grow. How awesome is that? £18.99 Also available at Amazon.co.uk: Bee & Butterfly Garden Offer – Set of Bee Mix, Butterfly Mix & Urban Meadow Seedball Tins

13. De-Stress And Un-Wind Wellbeing Gift Set

I’m an Indigo Herbs of Glasonbury ambassador, very much fond of their products, they are fantastic quality, so it’s just natural, that I feature one of their gift sets. This box includes herbal tea and massage oil, 100% pure botanical ingredients. £19.99 Also available at Amazon.co.uk: De-Stress and Unwind Git Set – Indigo Herbs

14. Hemp Eyewear Sunglasses

Currently available to order on Indiegogo, Hemp eyewear is handmade using organic hemp fibre to make solid and lightweight frames. Hemp is a renewable and diverse resource. Sunglasses from £88

15. Thought Bamboo Socks From Indigo Natural Living

These dog patterns are just too cute and I love the colours too. The socks are made of bamboo and the suppliers have to provide their workers with safe conditions, a living wage and are free from harassment. £20

16. What Daisy Did Brooklyn Backpack

What a brilliant idea! This bag (and the whole collection) is made in the UK from high grade ex-military materials (like waxed canvas). These materials are 99% locally sourced, 95% being recycled which means they have a very small carbon footprint. They are working together with The Northampton Hope Centre, a local homeless charity, offering a scheme to offer employment to vulnerable and homeless people. £70

 

One Messy Mama

Review: Humble Stuff Eco Cleaning Products

With Marie, the creative mind behind Humble Stuff we share the same ideas about being green. We even jokingly agreed on rather receiving eco-friendly cleaning products for Christmas than yet another jumper from Marks and Spencer. I’m always on the look out for natural everyday products without harsh chemicals and without giving up on performance. Not just for our planet, but for my small children too. I tried and still use bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, lemon and essential oils to clean and restore things at home. But what if I tell you that, you can buy cleaning products with these basic, cheap and non-toxic ingredients? To save some time and hassle.

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And they work. 

To be honest, I really wanted them to work, because they are also cheap, handmade with passion and the whole concept is something that, I can wholeheartedly support. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free. Worth every penny.

Here’s some photographic proof. A few weekdays worth of dirt on my hob on the photo on the left. And the clean hob on the right, where I used Soft Cleaning Paste, a special Christmas scented edition of it. It will make cleaning the oven after the Christmas roast a lot more Christmassy 🙂

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Humble Stuff has a small range only, which is all you need. You don’t need a different cleaning product for the bathroom and the kitchen, just a multipurpose one, which works safely on the surfaces. They also made to order, because the products have a best before date to maximise their cleaning capability. So basically, you just need to place your order three times a year for 3 products, and most of your cleaning stuff is sorted.

 

Foodji – Welcome To The Food Waste Revolution

Food waste is not only a moral but an environmental issue too. I’m pretty conscious about producing waste and if there’s something which helps me with that, I’m up for it. Luckily, with the help of great innovations it’s getting easier lately.

Foodji is a new Iphone App that allows the user to track food best before date, choose to use, donate or compost items and reduce food waste to landfill.

But food waste is just going to decompose? – you may ask. Not really. Food rotting in landfill produces methane emissions which are 21 times more harmful than CO2. Also, The UK will exhaust landfill space by 2018 unless we increase our recycling rates (report from the Local Government Association).

A third of all food produced – 1.3bn tonnes – is wasted every year, while 795 million people do not have enough to eat, according to The Guardian   The average household could save £39 a month by not wasting food, rising to £60 a month for households with children. (That’s us!)

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How can Foodji help?

Foodji strives to encourage the user to either use up their food before it goes out of date, donate it to a food bank or compost it.

How to use Foodji?

Swipe left on your list of groceries to say what you have done with that item. Swipe left on your list of used, donated, etc items (accessed from the settings menu screen) to re-add to your main list thereby saving yourself time adding a new item.

My favourite feature:

Look at your graph daily or weekly to see how well you are doing! The pie chart shows your achievements so you can actually visualise your efforts to reduce food waste.

Top tips when using Foodji:

  • If you are short of time when are putting away your groceries, just take a few quick pictures of the item on your iPhone showing the best before date then input it into Foodji when you have a couple of minutes.
  • You do not need to Foodji all your food (i.e. milk that you probably use up no problem!), it’s more for the items that you buy then forget about in the back of your fridge, cupboards or freezer!

I highly recommend this app as it tackles a very important problem. The layout and the features of the app is easy to understand and manage. It saves time, money and the environment.

Foodji is available for £2.99 on the App Store but a free version with ads is also available for download, visit the apps homepage: My Foodji

 

5 Reasons To Switch To Use Reusable Nappies

With Bobcat we use cloth diaper most of the time, I’d say 90% of the time. We only use disposable (bio-degradable) nappies during the night and when we’re out and about for a longer time (longer than half a day).

The 2 main reasons we switched to reusable diapers are: they helped him with his eczema. Essentially, we reduced allergens getting in contact with his skin. The other reason is that I’m a mama with a green heart, so it was very important for me.

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But there’s some other known and less known advantages. So here are the reasons why you should do the switch too:

  1. Environmental impact. Yeah, we all heard about that one. But let the numbers talk. An average child undergoes approximately 6.500 nappy changes by the time of turning two and a half years old. Over 8.000.000 nappies are thrown away daily in the UK. It will take 200 to 500 years to decompose a branded disposable nappy. (The bio-degradable nappy decomposes in 50 years.) They produce 2.3 times more waste water and 60 times more solid waste than real nappies.
  2. Impact on baby’s health. TBT, a chemical compound which is known to disrupt sex hormones, has been found in disposable nappies. It is something which should not being in contact with babies’ skin. Not to mention the super absorbent chemicals, paper pulp and adhesives. Other bleaches, colorants and fragrances also increases the chance for allergy – just like in Bobcat’s case. (Eczema)
  3. Impact on your wallet. Reusable nappies can save parents up to£600 per child. If you use the nappies for another child too, that’s £1.200. These savings can be greatly increased if you don’t tumble dry them, wash them on 60 degrees only and without fabric softener.
  4. Impact on potty training. Bobcat is a late talker. But since we’re using cloth diapers, he lets me know when he’s done a poo. Or when he feels too wet. That slight discomfort well worth it: whilst earlier he avoided to be changed, now he takes my hand, leads me to his changing mat and “asks” to be changed. That’s a step closer to potty training. With reusable nappies babies tend to potty train much earlier.
  5. Great absorbance. Even with really explosive poo, the cloth nappy performs better. It’s easier to detect when a nappy needs changing as disposable nappies bulk up and draw moisture away, so that you’d think the nappy was dry.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!