Children’s toys: Our Time of Gifts week 34

Children’s toys: Our Time of Gifts week 34

toy bedThis week on Our Time of Gifts, I tried to tell someone that I understood. And we gave our daughter Gwen a second-hand toy bed as a birthday present.

D spotted it, on the pages of a local online forum. It was going for a tenner; a bargain, we reckoned, considering the toy was in good condition, and the hours of delight that would unfold after it was opened.

Gwen and Austin have recently taken to playing ‘brothers and sisters’. This seems to consist, on the whole, of them putting soft toys to bed on cushions, with blankets on top. These ‘beds’ are snaffled from the downstairs sofas; on the evenings when the toys have a mass sleepover, D and I often have to make do with one shared cushion between us, while the toys lounge in luxury upstairs. The knowledge that there would be histrionics the next morning stops us from relocating the cushion-beds back to the sofa.

Less-than-comfortable tv viewing aside, it’s delightful to see our four- and two-year old play together so harmoniously. So, with that in mind, I set off westwards in our car one evening, to pick up the toy bed from its former home.

I’ve found that people advertising on this particular forum are fond of a natter when you turn up to collect the item you’re purchasing. On the whole, the people who buy stuff this way are looking for good-quality items that they and their families can enjoy. So, for the sellers, it’s not just a means of making small amounts of cash: it’s a good way to pass on something that was once treasured, to a person who is likely to give it similar care and attention.

When I arrived at the couple’s house, they invited me in to their plush-but-bohemian house (typical of that part of London). And, sure enough, they were keen to tell me about the bed’s history. It used to belong to their only daughter, who is now fourteen. They’d had a huge clear-out in the loft, because they needed the extra space. Around the dining table were a load of different boxed-up toys, and the man gestured towards a huge mound of tiny lego pieces, heaped on the living room floor ready for sorting.

‘And,’, he said, ‘we have a bonus for you. Would you like to take this, too, for free?’

He brought out a large box with a picture of a Sylvanian Families horsebox on the side.

‘It’s got all the pieces, but the roof doesn’t stay on properly. So we can’t sell it.’

His partner stood, awkwardly, by his side. ‘Hang on a minute’ she interjected. How old’s your daughter?’

‘She’ll be two on her birthday.’

‘Then this is too old for her.’ The woman turned to the man, a flash of triumph in her eyes.

Undeterred, he carried on, looking at me. ‘Please, you should still take it. You could keep it for her until she’s older, or do you know anyone else who might want it…..?’

‘My niece LOVES these. And it’s her birthday tomorrow, as it happens. She’ll be turning nine’ I directed this at the woman, whose gaze dropped down to the floor.

‘Thank you so much for the lovely bed’, I continued. ‘My daughter will be thrilled with it; putting babies to sleep is one of her favourite games at the moment. And my niece is massively into Sylvanian Families. When they stayed with us over Christmas, all she did was play with her new camper van. This one will be going to a really good home.’

The woman shot a glance up at me, eyes glistening.

‘It’s really hard to get rid of things, isn’t it? I said. ‘I’ve even hung on to a load of grubby babygros from when my two came out of hospital, because there’s no way I could give them away just yet. I expect I’ll have to one day, but I’ll be in floods of tears when that happens.’


‘I know,’ she said. This has all been really hard.’


The man thrust the Sylvanian Families box into my arms, and plopped the wooden bed on top.

It was time for me to leave.


This post is part of Our Time of Gifts, my year-long adventure in sharing. Each week, I’ll loan or giving something away, then see what the universe brings to my doorstep.

Click here to find out more about Our Time of Gifts.

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  1. Mummy Glitzer
    March 17, 2014 / 8:05 am

    Oh how lovely of the man to offer that to you.

    I do think us women have a much harder time getting rid of things; despite all of our moves since Harry was born we still have some things that I just can’t bear to part with, that wouldn’t sell anyway but I have had to get rid of a lot more than I was ready to at each time and found it really hard. It’s lovely that you reassured the lady that the Sylvianian would be going to a loving home. x

  2. March 17, 2014 / 8:32 am

    I find it really hard to get rid of things, toys as well it is what if it could be useful

  3. March 17, 2014 / 8:36 am

    How lovely, at least they know that their daughter’s toys are going to be loved all over again. Here’s hoping you manage to retrieve a couple of cushions for the sofa!

  4. March 17, 2014 / 8:55 am

    Getting rid of old toys that our children once so lovingly played with is hard. I’ve seen my sons room turn from a small Toys R Us showroom into a teenager’s bedroom with only an xbox and a few books…it’s heart wrenching.

    A lot of his toys went to a charity shop, some have remained because I can’t bare to part with the things he cherished so much as a little boy. I can imagine how this mum must have felt.

    But toys are meant to be played with, not stored in a box (oh, Toy Story 3, you’ve ruined me!), and I’m glad to read that the toys you bought/picked up are going to loving homes x

    As for the old toys I packed away, they’re coming out for my little niece to play with – I knew there was a reason I kept them!

  5. March 17, 2014 / 9:08 am

    Fab post! We do a bit of both buy some things new and quite a bit 2nd hand but usually from sales, so unfortunately you don’t get the history, just the bargains! x

  6. March 17, 2014 / 9:38 am

    Oh how lovely of the man to give you something extra. I think as a mother, it’s so hard to part with things that have sentiment and meaning to them. I have ‘memory boxes’ with special things in for both my boys, but I would keep everything if I could. xxx

  7. March 17, 2014 / 9:44 am

    I am the one usually getting rid of stuff at home but it must have been the lady who had bought the house and probably paid good money for it too. Oh well, I am sure it will be enjoyed in its new home now and she is over it already!

  8. March 17, 2014 / 9:58 am

    Lovely post – it IS hard parting with things, and sometimes the items you find easy to part with initially are those you later miss most!

  9. March 17, 2014 / 10:26 am

    The dolls bed is lovely.
    I have a few things from when the children were little that I have boxed up and will not part with. On the whole though I am pretty ruthless and if it stays still for long enough I take it to the charity shop. My husband on the other hand is a hoarder, with the opinion that we should keep everything we’ve ever owned, for ever, “Just in case”.

  10. March 17, 2014 / 1:20 pm

    As hard as it is to let go of their old things and everything that symbolises memories and history, I always love knowing I found a good home for them, someone who will love them as much as I did.
    I hope your daughter is enjoying her new bed and all the dolls have a comfy place to sleep 🙂

  11. March 17, 2014 / 1:33 pm

    We gave Syd a second hand garage for his birthday, he has had a lot of use out of it! I am a terrible hoarder, and have kept lots of bits and bobs from various stages of my children’s lives, but you can’t keep everything can you?! Hard saying goodbye to stages of your children’s lives.

  12. March 17, 2014 / 1:33 pm

    I think as adults we attached memories to things much more than children do. I cried when I got rid of the boys cot, but it went to a good home. Plus it isnt the memory, it is only a thing.

  13. March 17, 2014 / 2:23 pm

    What a lovely story, it is hard to let go of items which hold memories. I know that I am a devil for not letting go but they are items that are dear to me and I treasure them x

  14. anna
    March 17, 2014 / 2:23 pm

    aww thats really lovely. I do find it quite hard to get rid of things myself, I dont know how I will feel when they grow out of all the toys!

  15. March 17, 2014 / 6:02 pm

    Loving the bed – and so mice to stop and chat to people and learn about the items too. I only have a few experiences of our local freecycle and it’s always been very much ‘here take it, goodbye’ experiences I’ve had so far. I can be hard letting go of things, but I love the idea of toys carrying round history of different families with them x

  16. March 17, 2014 / 6:28 pm

    What a sweet story. I will be a wreck when i have to give away all of the girls toys when they are older. My two are both into sylvanian families too. What a lovely bonus for you xx

  17. March 17, 2014 / 8:38 pm

    Oh wow what a wonderful story. That toy bed is just fabulous and how nice to be given the Sylvanian Families box too. Must have been hard for them to give up (as children’s things often are!) but lovely to have a chat about it. I bet they were pleased afterwards they went to a good home. Lovely post 🙂

  18. March 17, 2014 / 8:51 pm

    A wonderfully well written post. It is really hard to give things away that were once so precious, you captured this feeling perfectly.x

  19. March 17, 2014 / 9:33 pm

    What a lovely story.

    I’ve things tucked away which we will never use again but I just can’t part with them. All our baby items have recently been given away – that has been hard

  20. March 18, 2014 / 6:56 am

    How lovely of the man to give you the Sylvanian families – I bet your niece will adore them and they are so pricey too. We got Eliza a second hand baby annabel pram for her birthday and the lady threw in the matching buggy, a baby annabel doll and loads of accessories that must have cost a fortune new – I paid less than £10

  21. March 18, 2014 / 9:55 am

    The Mr is forever telling me to get rid of things the Mini Mes no longer use/wear but I feel as though it’s giving a piece of them and their history away so it’s difficult! I usually pass them on to friends for free now so I know they will be looked after x

  22. March 18, 2014 / 2:11 pm

    Lovely post. It was very kind if the man to give you something extra. I find it really hard to get rid of old toys. We still have lots of ollies toys from when he was a toddler. He’s 9 now.

  23. March 18, 2014 / 6:53 pm

    Ah what a lovely story and so true. – I’ve definitely had that feeling myself when getting rid of some old favourites x

  24. Jo Sayer
    March 19, 2014 / 4:51 am

    A beautiful story on so many levels Nell! I guess its not the toys themselves that we find hard to part with, its the chance that we might forget the wonderful memories that are attached to them.

    We too know the joy of role-playing in our house. The way our girls’ play reflects the very essence of our parenting and their childhood experiences is something I greatly treasure – even the ‘bad’ parts. You’ll often find me trying to capture these moments on video (usually without success!).

  25. March 19, 2014 / 9:31 am

    Wow, what a story.
    It is nice to know that toy once loved is going to good hands.

  26. Charlotte
    March 20, 2014 / 12:11 am

    Aww I know what she feels like, it’s so hard watching them grow up and knowing all their cute little things are lost and forgotton… so hard to get rid of but at the same time amazing to know they are getting a new lease of life. Hope your daughter enjoys the bed 🙂 x

  27. Dragonsflypoppy-White Feathers
    March 20, 2014 / 9:29 pm

    It’s so tough to let go of things sometimes, isn’t it? How lovely of the gentleman to find that extra something and how delicately well you handled it with the lady xx

  28. March 20, 2014 / 10:08 pm

    It is really hard to get rid of stuff isn’t it – especially if it has been a favourite toy . I am sure that lady will love that her toys are appreciated – and how lovely for you to get some great toys.

  29. March 21, 2014 / 7:59 pm

    Gorgeous post as usual! I love the idea of giving or loaning something to see what happens in return. That is my kind of thing! I believe in karma and often do kind things to see what happens!! I hope your niece enjoyed the SF’s and that your two have years of fun ahead of them playing with the cot! My two (6 and 4) love playing the same game as yours and as you say, it is fab to see!

  30. March 21, 2014 / 8:43 pm

    I really love this feature that you do, it is such a great idea. I may look at doing something similar… especially the giving part 🙂

    The bed looks fantastic – a great bargain! Hope your little ones have hours of fun with it 🙂

  31. March 23, 2014 / 9:26 pm

    It can be so hard for little ones and us mums when it comes time to part with certain beloved toys. The bed is lovely and I’m sure your niece will adore the Sylvanian Families. Will pop back in the week to read all about ‘our time of gifts’ 🙂

  32. March 24, 2014 / 8:25 am

    Such a happy – and sad – post! It’s funny what we find hard to get rid of, often the toys I cursed the most when I was constantly tripping over them are the ones that I am saddest to see the kids no longer playing with now…Hope your niece loves the horse box, and the toy bed means you get to reclaim your sofa! #blogclub

  33. March 26, 2014 / 11:19 am

    It is so hard getting rid of things like certain outfits and favourite toys, long grown out of. I always try and make sure they go to a ‘good home’ so I can feel better about saying goodbye to them

  34. March 26, 2014 / 12:56 pm

    How absolutely wonderful. Grace got given a Sylvanian Family house from our old next door neighbours with a whole bunch of toys. It is still one of her favourite things. Thank you for linking to Prose for Thought x

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