As I read more on Waldorf, it was everything I had tried to do myself in the past, and things I'd always been drawn to. Cloth dolls, fairies, dragons, gnomes, wood toys, handmade....these are all things I've been drawn to since my own childhood. When I was a girl, I always wanted a cloth doll without facial features like the Amish kids had. I just loved the handmade simplicity of it. It went along with my quiet personality I guess. :) When Logan fell in love with dragons (OK, became obsessed with them), I was thrilled. I taught him "Puff The Magic Dragon" and he made me sing it over and over in the car. As I researched Waldorf more, I noticed that a lot of the lovies and toys I'd already made my kids would be considered "Waldorf inspired'', though for me, they were just inspired by the easy going simplicity I wanted to create for my kids. Waldorf was totally my cup of tea!
BUT (there's always a but), I knew family and friends would think I was crazy. They already think I'm "bohemian," a label I'm proud to carry even though I didn't know what it meant when first dubbed it. I could just SEE the eyes rolling when I said I'd thrown out all plastic toys and replaced them with unpainted wooden peg figures void of facial features. Some already think we're crazy for not having TV. Can you imagine what they'd think when they found out I'd rather have my kids play with acorn caps instead of My Little Ponies? Seriously, I was just a walking billboard for judgement. But the longer I'm a mom, the more comfortable I get in my own skin. It has truly been a growing period of self discovery. And the longer I'm a mom, the less I care about what people think of my simple ways, and therefore, the simpler I become as I feel freer to embrace myself for who I truly am.
SO....I decided to do an experiment. One night after the kids were in bed, I took an 18 gallon tote into the playroom and FILLED it with plastic crap. Days before that, I had gone through the kid's toys and put stuff in my consignment box that I haven't seen them play with in forever. They didn't notice the removal of ANY of these toys. Or if they did, they didn't care. Another day I took the kids on a nature walk and gave them bags to collect treasures in. Nothing new here, we did that a lot. But instead of the treasures staying outside, we brought them in. Acorn caps suddenly became the best toy the kids have seen in a LONG time. We dumped them out on their school table and I surprised them with a few peg people, a few wooden spools, and a tiny wood box. They sat there playing with these things for over an hour and never fought once! I didn't give them any instructions at all about what the objects were or what to do with them. On their own, they created a family with their pegs and Felicity excitedly made hats for her family out of the acorn caps. Logan set his family up around the box table where they ate acorn cap meals. He also filled the box full of caps, counting them out as he went. Felicity counted along with him and they did this over and over. They also made up stories about their peg people.
I have continued to put Waldorf ideas into practice in my home, and I get the same results from my experiments every time. For the sake of space, I won't go into detail about them all. My experiments have shown me that I'm NOT depriving my kids by deciding to steer clear of the more mainstream toys, and to downsize the clutter in general. Our decision to implement some Waldorf ideas is in fact giving them so much more than they had before.
Do I think they can't learn and have fun with mainstream, plastic toys? No. Do I think parents who love all the newest toys are doing it all wrong? NO! This is just the path we have decided to journey down for a bit. They have LOTS of years ahead of them to grow up and follow along with everyone else. In the mean time, I think we'll travel down a road a bit less traveled, picking up acorn caps and pine cones along the way while calling them toys, and calling nature our playground and schoolroom.
Here's a few pics of our adventures so far;
Lissy thrilled with her simple toys. Please don't mind her peanut butter smeared face. :)
Goofy face girl, fun hat!
Lis and I made a gnome village out of blocks.
Logan made us this gnome home for our village.
He also set up these two tables of food for our gnomes. Lissy said the blue gnome was eating chocolate, of course.
Two horses shared a pretzel.
Then Droolgobs the dragon awoke from his nap and attacked our village. All in good play though....no hurt feelings. :)
A lot more time spent in nature.
A lot of kid help in the kitchen.
A LOT of beauty found!