Top 5 Toys to Never, EVER Buy (You’ve Been Warned)

I am still reeling from the two afternoons of my life, two afternoons that could have been spent reading or napping or cuddling with my girls, but were instead spent sorting through piles and piles of toys in a probably futile attempt to clean the playroom, once and for all.

I was struck by how my task was made more difficult by the millions and trillions (only a slight exaggeration) of UPO’s that popped up again and again, to be sorted and collected and, if I had been in a different mood, tossed into the nearest garbage bin.
What are UPO’s, you may ask? If you are a mom, you know exactly what they are. They are the tiny, jagger-like Lego pieces you step on in the middle of the night. The impossibly tiny stray limbs and hats and shoes separated from impossibly tiny dolls and impossibly puny playsets. They are the Unidentifiable Plastic Objects, which I tried in vain to sort as I picked up the girls’ rooms and their playroom. Does this miniscule green hat go with the Polly Pockets or the Barbies? Does this tiny slice of plastic cake belong with the Hello Kitty playset or the Tinkerbell one? Do the oodles and oodles of mcroscopic combs and brushes and mirrors go with the My Little Pony, or the Strawberry Shortake? And so it continued…
So, for those of you who have yet to take the first steps toward a life of indentured servitude to hordes and hordes of UPO’s, whose homes are still clutter-free and haven’t yet suffered the influx of junk that seems to come with toddlers and preschoolers and invades your life forever afterwards, here is my list of the Top 5 Toys to Avoid, if you want a sane, stress-free home:

1. Play Money:

A couple of years ago, when my girls first showed an interest in playing pretend and playing “store”, I bought a wooden box filled with paper and plastic money. Within seconds of opening the box, it seemed, those pieces of paper and plastic had found their way into every corner of my home. This weekend, I disposed of the last of them.

2. Plastic Playsets;

Now this may seem impossible, especially if you have girls, but it’s certainly worth a try. I am referring to the Disney playsets with all of their itty-bitty pieces,  Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony and LaLaLoopsy and Hello Kitty and all the rest. If avoiding them entirely is impossible, at least try to minimize them. Allow your daughter to choose a favorite character, and only buy items for that character – that way all of those little pieces can go into one basket.

3. Pizza Playsets:

The one we have isn’t plastic at all, but wooden, and although as a rule I love wooden toys and wooden toy “food”, the pizza sets, with their dozens and dozens of wooden circle mushrooms and pepperoni slices, are a nuisance. Those pieces end up everywhere!

4. Squinkies:

Squinkies are tiny, and squishy, and impossibly cute. But they are lethal. Don’t let their innocent itty-bittiness lure you into buying a set, or twelve. You will be 95 years old and still discovering them lurking in corners or hiding in wicker baskets. Their only saving grace is that it doesn’t hurt to step on them.

5. Plastic food:

This past weekend, I disposed of the last of the plastic food, I think, but not until after I had hunted it down from every corner of every room in the house. I tossed plastic french fries and bunless burgers and lettuce leaves and bunches of plastic grapes and and plastic peas and plastic chocolate chip cookies. They are gone. All gone. Good riddance.

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