lessons learned from a toy catalogue

petrol pumpLast week a friend gave me a fundraising toy catalogue to browse for Christmas and I made the mistake of giving it to the little fella to look at.

For the rest of the afternoon all he said was “I want that one. Mummy can we bring this one home.” For EVERY item in the catalogue.

And, because I didn’t have the sense to hide the darn thing, it was all he said the next day too until I was ready to flip out (believe me, I’ve learnt my lesson).

One particular toy the little fella was interested in was the toy petrol pump pictured above.

When he asked me for the millionth time if he could have it, instead of flipping out I took a deep breath and was inspired to say “You know what, we can make that.”

This is what we threw together:

toy petrol pump

Now don’t laugh.

It’s no work of art, I know. What it does have going for it is that it took me less than two minutes to make, which is important when you’ve got an impatient two year old and a baby who wants attention. And let’s be honest, a two year old isn’t interested in whether a toy is ‘pinnable’ he just wants to play with it already.

toy petrol pump

For the rest of the week (because yes, I still hadn’t hidden the catalogue), the little fella now asked “Can we make this? Can we make this?”

And I could say yes! yes we can. And truly, there were not many items that we couldn’t make ourselves, given a little ingenuity, a few boxes and a lot of cardboard toilet rolls.

sailing ship

DH made this one – our favourite book at the moment is The Golden Snail (snailing ship) btw, so there’s a bit of overlap. The mast is, yep, you guessed it, the petrol pump tube.

In the end I’m glad I left him with that catalogue. It gave me an opportunity (albeit an accidental one) to downplay buying stuff and instead encourage creativity and ingenuity. Even if it’s me doing the creating at the moment, I’m hoping the habit will encourage his own creativity as he gets older.

Because, despite common perception, being frugal isn’t about deprivation or going without, it’s about meeting our needs and wants creatively. Frugality empowers us to say YES!, to have the things we want by finding creative solutions that don’t waste money or resources.

Creating things ourselves is the harder path to take but one that is much more satisfying. With a creative mind and a few boxes there are endless possibilities and little room for dissatisfaction.

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  1. Sharon says

    I love the idea of fostering creativity in children Melissa.The best part about making it yourself is that it can be reused again and again as you have done with the sailing ship.

    I accidentally made a terrific toy for my little grand daughter by collecting some different coloured lids from plastic cream bottles. I wanted something to store them in so I used a pot set yogurt container with a snap on lid. My idea was to use them as counters for a noughts and crosses type game on a homemade board but ‘my princess’ had other ideas. She got hold of the container and used it as a rattle, she then prised off the lid and tipped them all out and began putting them back into the container and replacing the lid. I am now teaching her to stack them in colours and saying to her pink one, blue one etc and also to count how many lids are in each stack. They store nicely in the container until her next visit and the best part is it cost absolutely nothing. My type of frugal!

  2. Delphine says

    Memories. My son was the creative one when it came to making things. We he was about 8 or nine he was a fan of the Ninja Turtles. He wanted costumes and rummaged through my sewing scraps to find the different colours pertaining to each of the turtles. He made face masks and belts to hold his swords. And then there was ‘Ghost Busters’. Cardboard box, masking tape, tin foil, old washing machine hose and he was ready for business. Invest in masking tape – lots of masking tape.

  3. Rachel says

    Love Doing this, so glad I’m not the only one.
    My Nan once gave me a scrapbook with a handle (cool right, at 4 or 5 I thought so) and let me pick out my favourite things from junk mail to cut out…by myself :) and stick (by myself) into the book. I felt so big and important charged with this. For her it was a rainy day quick fix…but for me it was a treasure I held onto for years. I would look through it, sometimes “inventing” items I liked as you and your son did.