I am that mom who gave EVERYTHING away after having her “last baby” only to then have her actual last baby. Thank goodness for friends who stepped in to loan or give me swaddlers, onesies, strollers, baby gear, board books, and toys for our fourth babe. Winnie would be sleeping in a drawer and listening to her older brother and sisters’ chapter books if these girlfriends hadn’t come along. For inexplicable reasons, I did decide to save a few of my favorite things in the midst of giving everything else away after my fake last baby. And though Winnie is our last, last baby, I’ll likely keep these toys for the memories they hold, and the life they’ll continue to have for years to come.. Before you get yard sale happy this summer, consider keeping a few things that stand the test of time.
Play kitchen and market – For imaginary play, there is nothing better than a kids’ market stocked with wooden or felt foods. We bought our Land of Nod stand a decade ago, and I haven’t been able to find a good replication since (though there are many excellent DIY versions out there). It has been a farmers’ market, lemonade stand, puppet theater, and has been used for countless kids’ birthday parties. Its Pottery Barn Retro Kitchen counterparts came along a few years later and have gotten equal love. I imagine these timeless pieces still have a lot of life left in them.
Wooden toys – From baby rattles to firetrucks to tag-along pull animals, I’ll never get rid of my wooden toys. There’s a reason these guys show up 100 years later in antique stores: they are valuable beyond the generation of children for whom they were purchased. Keep them long enough, and they’ll be treasures in a grandchild’s nursery one day.
Playhouse – I have very early memories of a white wooden playhouse with a green roof in my grandparents’ backyard. As a young child, I loved creating my own world inside those four walls. A friend of mine has a similar structure and it brings back all the memories. If you’re lucky enough to have a sturdy playhouse in your backyard, hang on to it as long as you can! And if you must part with it one day, find a family who will treasure it just as much.
Cozy Coupe – Is there any child’s toy more iconic than a red and yellow, Little Tikes Cozy Coupe? This nostalgic riding toy just celebrated its 30th anniversary, and the bones haven’t changed much in the last three decades. If you have the storage space, save this one. If not, the Cozy Coupe will likely be around many, many more years.
Sandbox – We’ve had a sandbox for all of our children, though we gave our plastic turtle sandbox away when we moved a few years ago. This summer, we decided to invest again in a 3×3 box of joy and imagination. We picked up a model from our grocery store (of all places!), stained, and assembled it in our backyard. You can find a similar one here—but ours was a fraction of that price.
Legos – My kids will go months without playing with their Legos, then take them out on a rainy afternoon and go crazy! However unorganized your Lego sets, no matter your disdain for Legos underfoot, keep ’em. They represent the essence of childhood.
Special Chairs – There is nothing more darling than a little wooden chair. Even after children are long grown, these pieces remind us of precious years with our babes. Cloth armchairs like Winnie’s bunny chair are a newer trend in children’s seating, and are almost as sweet. They are worth the investment and make wonderful keepsakes for your littlest readers.