Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The games we play...

Have I told you that we didn't bring any kid's toys away with us on the road?? It's true! Apart from a teddy each of course.

Part of the appeal of this trip for me was to see if we could do it lightly. If we as a family could live without a lot of stuff. Our house in Daylesford is filled with clutter. I wanted to see if we need it or like it. The limited storage space in the caravan helped make packing decisions easier, but even so on the day we left the cupboards were only half filled.

When it came to deciding which toys to bring, rather than each of my three girlies choosing an age appropriate selection, we brought none.

Instead we decided to leave it up to the op shop/thrift shop fairies.

Over the past two months we have visited op shops along the way and found and bought a huge bag of odd Lego bits, Jenga, a pink spotty tea set in a basket, solitaire, some bottles of bubbles and a selection of books.

Each game we have found has really been played with and enjoyed. Unlike half of those that fill our cupboards back home.

And the best part is that when we get tired of them, we'll donate them back for some other family to enjoy.

There is no sentimental value. I will absolutely never get to the stage when I hate those little pieces of plastic and swear when I step on one. It is a sustainable way to buy and play.

I am secretly hoping we discover a game of Snakes and Ladders or Scrabble next.

Packing lightly has also had the added reward of creativity. These kids have been making plenty. Fairy houses from shoe boxes (below), walkie-talkies from sultana boxes, lanterns from drink cartons...

I am planning one mega clean out when we get home.

And my giveaway is still open on my last post. What began as a thank you to you guys has become such a humbling and emotional experience for me. Thank you for every single entry. You guys are awesome!! I will certainly be reading back on your comments next time I have a 'what's the point of blogging' moment. And if you haven't entered yet, please do, it's open until Friday.

Happy playing. xx


  1. Love it Kate - I brought very little to the UK for our 6 week visit to the grandparents and have found they have been buying bits and bobs from their local op shops for the kid and it is working out just fine and dandy.
    Amanda xox

  2. You've given me even more backbone for the Big Clearing Out. I'm just waiting for the kids to turn their backs...

  3. The op shop - many a holiday saved by one! My son lamented at his Aunties that there weren't more toys but a visit to the oppie and library fixed his boredom with the peg bucket - which lasted well for quite some time.

  4. The op shop - many a holiday saved by one! My son lamented at his Aunties that there weren't more toys but a visit to the oppie and library fixed his boredom with the peg bucket - which lasted well for quite some time.

  5. I think every family needs to do a trip like yours and work out how little they really need in life. I am sure we could get rid of at least 3/4 of our house contents and not really blink an eye in the long run.

    Hooray for op shops!!! I'm sure you will find a scrabble or snakes and ladders soon.

  6. I'm impressed - I don't think I could leave home without at least 10 books!!
    It's funny how little kids need. My son Julian is turning 10 soon and I asked him to make a birthday list and after a while he came and said to me ... 'i've been thinking and thinking and there's not really anything I need....i kinda feel like my life is complete and I have everything I need'. Wow!
    I love the fairy house - it's absolutely gorgeous :)

  7. How sweet is that tea set! I'm gearing up for a clear out, just waiting for the right moment (a child free hour or two, and this time I'll remember to donate the toys to some far away opshop so that we don't keep buying them back!

  8. When we moved to Australia it was literally as a family of six with four suitcases (keepsakes and photos followed once we settled) It felt liberating to be free of 'stuff' and we became very selective with what we then brought for our children. We have never been huge on buying mass produced toys, we are an outdoorsy family so tend to stick to things we all enjoy using.

  9. I am impressed too. I love the idea.

    A friend recently read some literature which said that kids get stressed with clutter and are so much more relaxed without it. It is a shame then that kids just wont let anything go. Like Tan, I am waiting for a prolongued back turn. A 6 month caravan trip might come sooner :P

  10. if I had it my way I would chuck out 9/10th of the toys in Busys room- they drive me mental all those stupid little bits of plastic- I think we have discussed this before. Its more fun your way.

  11. Op-shopping toys was a brain wave! Master Cohen used to occasionally get a book or toy when we went op-shopping, now he seems to think that EVERY time we go op-shopping he should get a toy or book...

  12. Did a toy cull last week while the kids were at school. Waiting for the realisation to sink in with the kids. Lego I must say is always a winner in this house.I love seeing the kids play with it.

  13. Brilliant! Op-shop / swap meet toys are truly the best...and the handmade kind of course.

  14. I couldn't have managed it. We could never have left the house without at least some books, paper and textas and a teddy or 2.

  15. What a wonderful post - I totally agree! When my girls were little, they'd go to my mum's at the beach for a week every Christmas and that week was my big clean out time here. Thankfully, as they've got older the 'stuff' has got smaller and I haven't had to do it the last couple of years... There is light at the end of the tunnel Kate! But they'll probably get there much faster after this fabulous trip of yours because they'll see how little they actually need the stuff. What a great gift that is :) Kx

  16. Makes so much sense doesn't it........and it's also lots of fun "finding" new toys at the "oppie". Photo's are gorgeous too, hope your all well and happy on your epic journey around the continent!

  17. Sounds fantastic Kate. I read something once by a person who does 'professional organising' (funny job!). I think they were American, anyway, the thing I remember most clearly was them saying that when they encourage parents to clear out their childrens rooms (I don't know how old the kids were), the parents are all like 'no, they love there x toy -whatever toy', anyway the organiser sounded abit 'tough love' and told them to just do it... the organiser said that they (he/she, can't remember) had never ever seen a kid re-enter their room and be sad- he/she said, inevitably, they come in and DANCE. I thought that was amazing (actually, if someone went into my room and got rid of all the shit, I'd probably dance too!). Happy thrift shop fairies to you xx

  18. What a cool idea letting the op shops decide! Love it! Great finds by the way! You can't go wrong with lego, and that tea set is bloody fantastic!

    Good luck with whatever comes your way next! Exciting!

  19. this is the best yet, I love your adventures, loved them at Daylesford too though. This is the best idea, no toys but op shop toys, unreal. Keep travelling safe.

  20. At our place... which granted is bigger than your caravan... our approach is that we have finite space. Before the birthday & Christmas season the children go through their "stuff" and donate to the oppy in order to make room for new stuff. No donations, no room for new stuff. That's the way we try to roll :)
    Over time we've also found that our children are more likely to play with a cardboard box than any super fancy gadget that we buy them.
    Belonging to a toy library was also good there for a while.

    I just love the way your girls have used their creativity to make their own toys and amusements. Wonderful.

    ...and what about on the road games? Have you been playing lots of eye spy? Have you made up any new games?

    Oh yeah. And have you driven past lots of Boab trees? Our eldest's middle name is Boab. One of the grandest trees I've ever seen.

    Oh... and have you driven through Fitzroy Crossing yet? One of my all time favourite WA towns. Had an awesome night out at the smaller of the locals years back.

  21. So refreshing to visit you every wingle time. Aaaahhhh. This morning I thought to myself "What if we challanged ourselves to NO media in the house for a month...???" I quickly changed the thought to 1 week as I suddenly got a funny worry feeling in my stomach. How would it really be to be without TV, Wii, computer, Nintendo DS games...??? Of course we would do perfectly fine but still... I do have a secret dream about living small, throwing out all the plastic toys, start laying puzzles together in the evenings, play board games as a family and laugh our butts off in doing charades. So why don't we do it? I should really make this a true discussion with my husband. Maybe we should give it a go? I am not worried about me. I am worried about everybody else. On second thought now (or third...) 1 week is to short. We probably could need a month to go through the "media detox" process and find our way back to imagination and play. Sometimes I wish we were really poor so that we couldn't give in for the "Please Mama, can I just choose one toy to bring home. I'll choose a cheap one!" One more toy that clutters the house and tomorrow there is a new toy to add, and the day after that, after that, after that... You get it. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Sounds like the perfect toy system to me. ( though glad to hear ted came from home ;)
    Love that by packing lightly they've made their own toys too, it's inspired them to make thing from whatever was on hand.
    and those are the best sorts of toys i think, the toys made by kids for themselves. xo

  23. this afternoon i read this post, put my laptop down and immediately proceeded to the playroom for a major pre-move cull. thanks!

    {now i just need to smuggle the bags out to the op-shop without the hoarders i dwell with realising...}

  24. I love that you pick up and drop off things along the journey at Op would never know what is going to be the next source of fun and entertainment.
    I think every now and again the gaining of perspective of our stuff should take place....hmmm we are well over due for ours!

  25. What a fantastic idea and one I wouldn't mind trying even though we're not on a road trip!! LOL!! Cx

  26. A first I thought - what you packed no toys .. but then as I read on I realised just how clever that was and how great it is to have the op shop adventure of finding something new. Might just have to get have a little clear out here I think!!

  27. Fantastic Kate, i can not wait to move again & see how much we can give away, start fresh (should be quite easy considering our youngest will be 9 or 10 when we do) & hold onto those toys they truly love. As i live in very much a handmade world many of their softies will be kept forever, well for my girls, i'll only hand over the gorgeous handmade goodies if i like my son's wife, oh boy she has some boxes to tick to win my heart (i say this while he's still only 7). Love Posie

  28. That teaset is a SCORE! :)

  29. That is a great idea Kate, and a kind way of re homing unloved toys.
    We might take a few toys because having twins means we would have to have to find two of everything (well in reason).

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