Today on the blog…The founder of Just Play Toy Rental, Ottawa mom of three Delta Jones, answers my questions about her kids, play and what her company offers Ottawa families.
Basically, Just Play Toy Rental is an online toy rental service that allows parents to easily rent toys for a month at a reasonable price. The company will even deliver the toys and pick them up. So what makes this different from the neighbourhood toy lending library? The selection of toys is AMAZING!!!
What’s especially great about Just Play is that the company focusses on open-ended toys and encourages unstructured and independent play, which we’re really into over at casa PPP and are ideas worth considering this summer…
Tell us about your family.
I’ve got three beautiful, healthy kids. My oldest, Daniel, is 7. He’s my thoughtful sensitive guy. Sam is 5, easy-going and pretty content most of the time. A bit wild…always ready to jump right in with both feet. And then there’s Nina, who is 3. She is persistent and determined to keep up with her two older brothers. My husband works for the public service and somehow manages to come home from work with enough energy to wrestle and have tea parties with the kids.
Where do you live? What makes it a great place for families?
We live in the south end of the city. There are several parks within walking distance and many similarly aged kids in the neighbourhood. We love being close to everything…schools, activities, groceries, etc. but we occasionally dream about moving out to country where the kids would have more space to roam free.
You’re a big proponent of unstructured or free play and open-ended toys. What do you mean by those terms and why are they beneficial?
Unstructured or free play refers to children playing without any guidance from adults. Free play is important because it allows children to be in the driver’s seat. Throughout the course of the day, children are often told how to behave, what to do, how to do it, etc. Unstructured play gives them a break from being constantly monitored and corrected. It also encourages children to use their imaginations (because they are not being told what to do). Imagination is the ability to form a mental image of something that is not there. This ability to think abstractly is an important building block of creativity and intelligence.
Open-ended toys are often simple in design and are not usually electronic. The ways of playing with them are endless; children are able to create their own purpose for them (e.g. build blocks, sticks, boxes). Again, this encourages children to use their imaginations.
What is Just Play Toy Rental?
Just Play Toy Rental is an online toy rental service that delivers toys within the greater Ottawa area. We are a company with a strong philosophy. Perhaps surprisingly, our goal is not to add more toys to your probably already cluttered toy room. Rather, we encourage our clients to own/rent fewer but better toys. Children can actually get overwhelmed by too many toys, making it hard to concentrate on any one toy long enough to engage in meaningful play.
What kinds of toys do you offer?
We are fairly picky about the toys that we offer, preferring toys from higher quality brands. We offer a wide variety of toys: indoor/outdoor toys, educational toys, and toys that encourage physical activity and imaginative play. Most toys are for children 8 years old and under.
What type of family might benefit from your service?
Parents with young children who would like to spend less money on purchasing toys. Parents who would like to de-clutter their homes. And parents who would like some help determining which toys are developmentally most appropriate for their child.
What are some other things parents can do to encourage unstructured play?
Ensure that their days aren’t too overscheduled and provide them with open-ended toys and materials that encourage them to use their imaginations. Often the best open-ended toys aren’t toys at all (think boxes, rocks, sticks, etc). Also, step back. Resist the urge to offer ideas (this is hard for me). As soon as you help them build that tower, it’s no longer their accomplishment. Not that you shouldn’t play with them or help them create but be sure to fit in independent play.
What about independent play? Where does that fit in?
Playing and connecting with children is essential but it is also important that children learn to play independently. The ability to play independently fosters important lifelong skills such as problem-solving, resourcefulness, and independence. I believe that it’s okay for children to experience boredom. Boredom encourages creativity and helps children to realize that mom and dad are not responsible for entertaining them (at least not always).
What toys are you and your kids really into right now?
My boys are really into Lego right now, Pokemon cards, and anything that can be turned into a light sabre. My daughter loves dressing up and having tea parties (so stereotypical, I know). Now that the warm weather has arrived, they’ve been spending a lot of time on their bikes and playing soccer with the neighbourhood kids. The boys are really into video games right now too. We’re really struggling with how to manage their screen time.
What is your family looking forward to doing in the city this summer?
We enjoy hiking (Mer Bleue and Pink Lake are favourites), camping (Rideau Park) and going to the beach (Brittania Beach is a great beach for children). We also love doing tourist-y things like going up the Peace Tower and watching boats go through the locks.
I wish I had discovered this service sooner, before my small home got infiltrated with brightly coloured plastic! I haven’t tried yet but I can’t wait to start renting toys as an occassional treat for the little one. It would be especially useful for downtown families that just don’t have the space for a lot of stuff.
For more information visit the Just Play Toy Rental website or check out: