All I Want for Christmas is a Toy Library
Toys can be a source of stress, whether we have too many or too few. Local toy libraries offer another way!
This newsletter is about toys! But first, here are some neighborhood events for families celebrating here in San Francisco.
Neighborhood events over the holidays
Dec 15-Dec 24 at Union Square where 2 blocks are pedestrian-only: Winter walk! Light up penguins and other winter things, kid-friendly activities like toys and balloon art. You can check out Macy's holiday window with the puppies and kittens up for adoption while you're there.
Saturday Dec 23, 10am at 850 Valencia Street: Carols, cookies, and hot chocolate!
Saturday Dec 23, 10:30am at Glen Park Library: Toddler-made wrapping paper
Saturday Dec 30, 10:30am at Glen Park Library: Toddler ball pit
Monday Jan 1, 3-6pm at Hayes Valley Playground in the rainbow basketball court: Community skate party & resources roll-call! Skates available to borrow from toddler size 8 to adult size 9. This event happens every Monday!
There's also story time at different libraries each day, every day except for Christmas day. And a reminder that the Botanical Garden and Japanese Tea Garden are free for SF residents if you need more places for your kids to run around until school/daycare starts back up. See also Family Swimming hours at the end of the letter!
Join the Joyful Parenting SF Meetup for more events.
[image courtesy of Pexels]
“Toys Have Gotten Cheaper and it’s Making Parents Miserable”
The holidays are upon us, and with them navigating getting enough toys but not too many, making space for toys, choosing the right toys, or avoiding toys altogether. Katie Notopoulos suggests in Business Insider that unlike other gift categories (like say, museum passes), toys have consistently gotten cheaper, and thus more numerous. There’s no denying many toys are quickly abandoned and wasteful. So writers of parenting advice and climate activists want parents to limit the number of toys offered to children.
Meanwhile, brands have long responded to parents’ concerns by promoting the educational value of their products, with brands like Lovevery going as far as rebranding toys as tools to “grow your newborn’s brain.” Nevermind that there is no such thing as an inherently good toy. Children can express their creativity with all sorts of objects, from the cheapest plastic figurine to the fanciest wooden construction game. Electronic toys might have a reputation for tricking children into paying them attention, but reality is a lot more nuanced. For instance, children report preferring in person to online play, yet have fewer opportunities of the former.
Essays by parents facing these dilemmas often conclude with calls for slower, more mindful, consumption. Parents who have achieved such minimalism reflect on how children revel in toys in part because those toys are disliked by their parents. Every take on toys seems to place responsibility on parents and to ignore that where some families struggle with excess, others still struggle to afford presents.
A Community Response: Toys Library
What could a community-based approach to issues of toys waste and excess or lack of toys look like? Toys libraries are part of the answer. As a child, I was able to borrow everything from costumes and doll houses to karts and large outdoor games, for free. Toy libraries offer a space to play, a variety of toys to try, to enjoy for a while and then return - or to borrow again. They’re both vector for equality and provide children with a feeling of abundance and choice.
San Francisco’s Children’s Council has a toy lending library that is free for all. After creating an account and reserved toys online, they can be collected and returned Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 12 and 4pm at 445 Church St.
Some library branches also offer toys to check out for play on site. The main library offers a full kitchen set and a number of trucks loved by toddlers. Across the Bay, the Oakland Public Library allows patrons to borrow two toys, and focuses on ages 0-6. It’s worth noting the Habitot Museum’s toy lending library closed when they lost their physical space.
Unfortunately, none of the current toy lending libraries extend to older kids or include board games. We sure would love to see these services extended!
Holidays family swimming hours at SF Public Pools - 12.26 to 01.06
Pools are closed on January 6th in the morning.
Tuesday 7-8am, 12.30-2pm, 2.30-4pm
Wednesday 9-10.15am, 12.30-1.30pm, 2-3.30pm, 4-5.30pm
Thursday 7-8.30am, 2.30-4pm
Friday 8.30-10am, 2-3.30pm, 4-5pm
Saturday 9-11am, 12.30-2pm, 2.30-3.30pm, 4-5pm
Friday 2-3pm, 3.30-5pm
Saturday 9-10.30am, 1-2pm, 2.15-3.45pm
Hamilton (shallow pool)
Thursday 2:00-3:30 pm
Friday 3.45-5pm, 5.30-7pm
Saturday 9-10.30am, 1-3pm
Tuesday 11:30 am -1:00 pm
Thursday 11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Saturday 12.30-2pm, 2.30-3.30pm
Saturday 9-11am, 11.30am-1pm, 1.30-3pm
Thanks for reading Joyful Parenting SF! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.