Sometimes I feel like our children are just awash in a sea of cheap plastic c**p. Go to a fast food chain and they will get a small plastic toy. Go to a birthday party and they will leave clutching a bag of plastic junk.
Go to the supermarket and they will be enticed by the novelty toy dispensers where for one or two pounds they can get a plastic pouch with a toy inside that seems designed to break before you reach home.
And don’t even get me started on those surprise eggs; why do they always have keyrings inside? Neither my four-year-old nor my two-year-old needs something to keep their keys organised. They don’t even OWN keys.
But the rubbishy toys I loathe the most are definitely the ones that come strapped to children’s magazines. These magazines can cost up to £4.50 each and there seem to be hundreds of them available every single month.
I hate them. I hate those magazines with a rage worthier of a better cause…
Rubbish Toy Delivery System
Let’s be honest; all the child really cares about is the plastic stuck to the front of the magazine. A magazine for pre-schoolers is essentially a rubbish-toy delivery system.
After all, a four-year-old hasn’t excitedly spotted the new feature on whether the ‘Octonauts’ are planning to redesign the Octopod. They aren’t looking forward to the exciting artwork you can make at home feature. They definitely don’t care about the cut-out-and-keep In The Night Garden door hanger. No, they want the gimmicky piece of junk taped to the front; the magazine is just the wrapping.
I try to resist my children’s requests for these magazines (seriously, where did four-year-old Harry learn the phrase: “But mummy, it’s educational”?) but if we have a long journey or a family event to sit quietly through or if Harry has painstakingly earned enough stars on his chart, then I will occasionally treat him to one.
Recent toys have included: a Thomas the Tank Engine pretend camera (now broken); an undeniably creepy Mister Tumble plastic figure (now discarded as Olly is so scared of it that we can’t leave it upstairs at night); a collection of foam pretend pizza toppings; two weird plastic insects with a small gold trophy (I still don’t know why).
Somehow this stuff looks desperately enticing to children while it’s stuck to a magazine but once they have unwrapped it and recognised it for the rubbishy junk that it is, they don’t want to play with it again. Who would?!
And then, because I can’t bear the waste, we have to set aside half an hour to ‘do’ the magazine. That means 30 minutes of me trying to engage him with the puzzle or challenge or colouring in, while he covers his face and mine with the magazine’s stickers.
Down With This Sort Of Thing
Of course, I don’t get to buy one magazine. Two-year-old Olly will spot what we’re up to and want to join in, meaning I can either battle to keep the peace and take turns, or I have to buy two magazines – spending about £9 in total on a tatty toy and some stickers.
So, I have decided to just outlaw the magazines in our house. Frankly, I’d rather spend the money on colouring books and sticker books for Weddings and car journeys. I’d rather let the boys choose a new toy car from the pocket money range at the supermarket if I want to let them have a rubbishy toy reward – they are slightly better made and don’t mean we end up throwing out an entire magazine as well.
They might be educational, they might be stuffed with brain-enhancing puzzles and early learning opportunities – but if they are so great then why do they need a cheap plastic toy stuck to the front to help them sell?
It’s a good resolution to stop buying pre-schooler magazines; they are cheap tat with a massive waste footprint. But since my supermarket doesn’t agree that they should be put on the top shelf alongside the naked lady magazines and out of view of little children, I fear I am in for some fights with Harry and Olly. So if you spot me dragging a child away from the magazine aisle while he wails: “But it’s educationa-aaa-aaal!” then you’ll know why.
Are you a fan of children’s magazines? Let us know in the comments.
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