I have fallen into all the trap too many times. Bought big expensive toys. Doll houses, electric cars, pirate ships with extra everything, the BIGGEST box of Pet Shops... Every Christmas and every birthday I have battled the pressure of buying something BIG. Something EXPENSIVE. Something OUTSTANDING. Something OVER THE TOP! And the stuff piles up on shelves and in boxes after a few days or weeks of use, never to be touched again... That poor little battery dog who barked, wiggled her tail and sat down... That Star Wars helmet which is just big and ugly and never really worked well with the built in microphone... But it isn't just in preparation for the big gift days that I feel this way.
We go to the grocery store and the nagging and begging starts at the toy shelf. "Please, please, please..." Only one more Pet Shop (to add to the bucket with a million others), only one more Hot Wheels car (to add to any surface, any place, any where in the house to be stumbled upon). Only one more ANYTHING. But I say no. I do. I say NO. Instead I grab some bottles of bubbles and put in my cart, to no ones delight I should add, until we get home and my children - big and small - go outside with their bubbles, and the fun is so incredibly intense. Blowing bubbles, small and big. Many. Merging them, catching them, chasing them. "Mama! Mama! Come and see! We have made the biggest bubble ever! It is bigger than Luca's head!!!"
Bubbles. What a winner. If I only had been smarter all these years and just given bubbles... Think about all the agony I would have saved myself... Think about all the money I would have saved. And think about all those hours of fun my kids would have had with such a simple toy. When it comes down to it - nothing beats simplicity.
PS Did you know that playing with bubbles actually is VERY good for your child. It helps developing fine motor, gross motor and oral motor skills, it helps with speech, with coordination and much much more. Read more here.
PS 2 My son Luca, who was born with a cleft palate, received an ordination from his doctor at a young age to play with bubbles. Through the years it has been a lot of bubble play to stimulate nerves and muscles around his mouth and lips for better movement and flexibility. Read more about Luca and his cleft palate journey here and here.