Hardest working toy

As you know I have been on a cleaning FUH-RENZY these past few days. The ghost of spring cleaning has taken over my body and I am powerless to refuse its force. Today I dropped the kids at school, went via the reject shop to buy some storage containers, quickly met a deadline and tackled Daisy’s wardrobe. I was RUTHLESS. Drunk on the power of no small people about NOTHING was safe from my culling. Sentimentality went out the door as I threw out, donated, packed away and tackled that wardrobe like a woman possessed. It is now clean and I have the spare room to tackle tomorrow. It’s quite exhausting this business, but oh MY the smugness that comes from a de-cluttered clean surface is worth it. I keep making the family go and open the cupboard and then close it, because it now can! Dress up’s are away in a container! Shoes placed just so in a shoe SHELF. That Kat from the Organised Housewife better watch out is all I’m saying.

I got thinking when I was dealing with the playroom about the toys that have lasted the test of time (and play). The ones that aren’t gimmicky, the ones that keep getting played with even as the girls get older.

Number one for me? The dollhouse. A present Rob’s Mum gave the girls about 4 years ago and that gets a run every single day. Maybe it’s the set up? At a table in the main room with chairs at the ready. Maybe it’s the Sylvanian Families within it? Usually it look ice addicts live there or like it’s been ransacked but when they do a deep cleanse (I must have inspired them) it makes for some really good play. Even my persian rug coasters have got a run (well done on the soft furnishings girls).

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Some of the others would be the Schleich animals that we have a pretty big collection of. They ALWAYS get used – at the moment in the bath every night. Next on the list would be the play kitchen – always cooking something, boiling the kettle, apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and all that. We have the Ikea one that we gave the girls for Christmas a few years ago – I like how it looks and it’s a winner for storage too. Other than that? Trampoline.

What about you? What’s your hardest working toy?
What stands the test of time and little hands at your place?
Got any suggestions for kids coming into the next age bracket that DOESN’T involve screens?


  1. Oh woman you’re inspiring me! We don’t own that much stuff, but we are VERY good at spreading it out everywhere.

    As for toys that have lasted the years? We’re right there with you on the Schleich toys. AJ has so many, it’s almost obscene. But she still plays with them a lot even at 11, though now they’re more a collection on display most days.

  2. I really gotta do this – we have toys everywhere… I just feel guilty giving away stuff, but like you say I have to put sentimentality aside for the great good! My 6yo has never played with toys and is more of a crafter, writer, colour-inner (not even a word) so I should donate all her scary Monster High dolls to someone… BUT the boys love their cars, fire engines and train track right now. x

  3. Katie clews says

    In our house it’s Lego, the dolls house and treehouse thingy that my daughter has and the plastic toy animals….

  4. I remember reading the post when you confessed to messy cupboards bursting at the seams. I imagined that wardrobe that Katherine Heigl movie 27 dresses. I thought to myself … Beth! It’s not you. I can’t believe it. Messy cupboards?? Glad to hear you have addressed this issue. I feel cleansed for you!
    In our house the boys dominate as they’re the eldest, 7 and 4. It’s ALL about the Lego. 90% of the time. 2 hours before school today. And sometimes cars. And when they were little trains. But now – Lego Lego Lego and kicking the footy. Poor little miss 2 has some crappy plastic dolls house handed down to her. Must get her something nice for Christmas.

  5. In Qld, we’re able to be outside most of the year. So for us, a trampoline wins hands down. Followed closely by a sandpit (the further down the backyard, the better to brush the sand off before reaching the house). And a swing and bikes.
    Inside- for the boy a Lego table made from a cheap Ikea coffee table with four Lego base plates glued on, and a ton of Lego in a tub. For the girl- a well stocked craft table.
    And strangely, our kids as babies loved a piece of plastic chain, which was given to us to hang soft toys on, but made it into the toy basket (minus the toy holding clips). They played with it for hours, and it was a source of much squabbling at mother’s group mornings when all the kids wanted it. Big enough links not to catch little fingers, and easy to clean in the dishwasher. Simple things…..

  6. Emily Furlong says

    My daughter is 10 & 1/2 and she still plays with her dolls house! I found it at a garage sale and for $80 got the house, the little dolls and a bunch of proper miniature furniture (even down to mini china plates for the cabinet!), some of which is still in a safe little box. But I’m aiming for it to end up being something she holds onto and gives her daughter one day 🙂

  7. I have been so disappointed that my daughters doll house is over looked. All the Sylvanian Families in the world couldn’t entice her to play with it. I was so sad. My daughter is always playing with stationery – writing little notes, making signs, drawing designs. She can’t get enough of art activities. Her watercolour paints are popular too. For my son his schleich dinosaurs – no noise, no batteries and all the drowing in the bath and bashing on the floor can’t kill them. Worth every cent

  8. Lisa Mckenzie says

    I want to finish my culling I want to be one of those people who live simply and don’t need “things” but I really don’t know if I am that woman.
    I have kept the dollhouse the Lego and duplo and the favourite books for when I have grand babies!

  9. Lego all the way in our house – right up to our 9 year old. The wooden trainset I got on ebay comes in a close second, particularly for Mr 4. I open and close my linen press just to enjoy the beautifully arranged linen.

  10. Faux Fuchsia says

    I’ve done a massive clean and I keep going and opening cupboard doors and staring at the order and neatness JUST BECAUSE I CAN!!! It is the Best feeling! And it makes you feel virtuous and organised.

    I can’t function in mess and clutter and do my very best thinking and work in calm ordered environments.

    I even stare at my freshly mulched garden and feel ridiculously happy.

    Carry on.

  11. The Schleich animals (and some of their poorer cousins) in combination with Duplo, domino “fences” and any surface in the house for making farms and zoos have also gone the distance here.

  12. I’ve got a set of duplo that I got for my second birthday. All of my kids have played with (plus many other kid visitors at my mums for the past 36 years). I don’t think there’s a day it doesn’t get played with, best buy ever.

  13. Good for you! My kids are only toddlers but the amount of toys they have collected is ridiculous. I just went through and culled many of the baby items they don’t play with anymore so at least that’s a start. I have a real issue with stuffed toys – they take up so much space and generally just gather dust. At last count there were 51 (I only bought 2 of those I think). At our house the Ikea kitchen is also a winner as are Fisher Price Little People playsets like the farm, dolls house and Wheelies cars. Thomas tracks and trains and Lego/Duplo are also firm favourites as are craft items like good marking pens and stamp sets. We go through playdoh like there’s no tomorrow (Mr TT has finally stopped eating the stuff). My Mum kept all the “good toys and books” like Fisher Price playsets, Lego/Duplo, jigsaws, board games and Little Golden Books and it’s greats to see them still being played with 30+ years later (can’t believe my Mum didn’t lose any of the jigsaw pieces?!).

  14. We still have our Dolls house, purchased for $30 off ebay and it still gets used. Lego is a huge favourite as well. For Christmas we are getting the kids (9 & 6 years) outdoor play equipment. They’ve outgrown the swing set, purchased for $80 3 years ago from Kmart and climb on it rather than swing on it, so we’re getting something big from http://www.funkymonkeybars.com/, with a cargo net, button swings and a trapeze.

  15. I am excitedly and impatiently biding my time until I can do a big clear out of the Little Mister’s stuff. Kind of goes without saying, but books are timeless around here. The Little Mister never tires of a good story book. His bubble car (the red and yellow classic from Little Tykes) has by far been the hot favourite. His love affair with it is enduring!

  16. For our boys (now 36 and 41!) it was a set of hardwood, unitized blocks. The base set was $200 in the 1970s. Yikes! You could add to it piece by piece, so we had ramps, roadways, arches, pyramids, etc., and it all fit together. They spend hours with it. And I can’t for the life of me remember whatever happened to those blocks.

    Other keepers were anything Tonka–backhoes, front loaders, dump trucks, a fire truck whose hose actually squirted water–uh, everywhere. Also expensive, but built to last.

  17. Yay you for decluttering! My husband and I are like the worst hoarder combination possible. I love a bargain so I’m constantly buying new stuff. My husband is very frugal and cannot throw ANYTHING out. When I say anything I mean ANYTHING! When we finish a container of bubble bath my husband keeps the container for our daughter to play with.

    I’m pretty good at decluttering but I really have to work hard to combat my husband. Every time I get a box for Vinnies he insists on going through and half of the stuff in it comes back out.

    Have your girls always played with the Dolls House / Kitchen? I bought my three old daughter a toy kitchen a couple of years ago, and a dolls house last year and they just sit there gathering dust! However when we go to play groups and other people’s houses she loves playing with them. It drives me MENTAL!

    • Jess we bought our three year old daughter a dolls house for her birthday earlier this year. She doesn’t play with it! But will play with anyone else’s whenever we visit friends. ARGH!!

    • Oh that is annoying! They have pretty much – because they do it together it seems to work? Plus I have the out where they can’t be missed. Good luck!

  18. By far the thing that has given the most is the trampoline. We made the decision 10 years ago to buy the non PC type, no nets! Old fashioned rectangular tramp. It’s still giving, and now the teens hangout on it – It’s like a meeting point!

  19. The Fisher Price dolls house, which belonged to my older girls who are now 17 and 19. It’s been played with by lots of visitors children and my son and now my 2 year old will use it.
    Also megasketcher boards which the 4 older kids all got one Christmas, 3 of them have lasted about 10 yrs and still get used all the time.

  20. I have those little Persian rug coasters, except we actually use them as coasters. We have mouse pads to match. Yours work well in the dolls house. I have my daughters wooden dolls house in storage because I can’t bare the thought of parting with the memories. I will hang onto it in case I am ever a Grand Mother. If I am ever a Grand Mother I will be referred to as MeMa.


    Jeez it must’ve been messy is what I’m saying.

  22. We are about to move into our newly built almost finished house and so I’ve begun the tedious but necessary task of packing. Having only moved a year ago into the place we are renting, I am not looking forward to doing this task again so soon, but know it will be easier as we culled so much before moving. Saying that though, the amount of CRAP we have astounds me and I will be RUTHLESS and THROW. Even my husband, who has held onto clothes that were NEVER in fashion, and are over 15 years old, finally put them in a pile for the tip. It’s a mothereffer big spring clean ahappenin’ here, let me tell you!

    Toys that stand the test of time? Duplo and Lego. Because my hoarder of a husband still has his Lego from when he was little.

  23. Totally agree with the toy kitchen being a winner!! My girls play with it every single day along with all the soft Ikea food stuffs that we’ve finally collected all of. It doesn’t have batteries or make a noise and it stores all the play crap within!! Winning. Ditto also on the tramp.

  24. Oh for the love of a storage container! I’m inspired, Spring cleaning at the Pav’s shall commence soon!

    As for toys, it’s been a while since we had toys in our house but the kids always loved the trampoline and basketball ring outside. Inside, lego was popular with both of them (boy & girl) and Bella loved anything arty & crafty. Her absolute favourite for a while was Hama beads, do they still exist?

  25. I really need to get in and chuck some crap out, perhaps tomorrow. The hardest working toy in our house: LEGO……god help me…… it drives me insane, and ends up all around the house, but by god they love it. They can play and create for hours on end. So I just let it sit there, all over the lounge room floor until eventually I have to pack it up…not sure why I bother because it is back out the next day. And by golly that stuff hurts when you tread on it. Also the old Tonka Dump Truck, it has been backed over and thrown about but still rolls along. Love that Doll House, so cute.

  26. The hardest working toys in our house are two stuffed macaws that the girls have adopted like no other. Bearhands and I did a sneaky toy disposal earlier this year. Best feeling!

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