When I was a child, I remember going to the bank regularly with my mum. She would queue and I would play with the wooden dollhouse or watch the fish in the fish tank. Now, if I bring my kids, they can do neither! Why have a lot of businesses stopped providing toys in waiting rooms? It makes the experience so much easier for parents and pleasant for kids. My experience is that it becomes more expensive for the business, as bored kids can be destructive. Every time, I visit the bank, my kids fill out lodgement forms when my back is turned.
Thankfully, there are some businesses that still provide toys for kids. My doctor’s waiting room has a lovely selection of toys and books to keep bored children entertained and the little fabric shop down the road also has a box of toys for kids to play with, giving parents the extra few minutes they need to choose what they want in peace. Surely it’s win-win for everyone.
If you are a business owner and children regularly come into your premises, then can I encourage you to have a small basket of toys. Here’s what you should consider when choosing what toys to have.
- Choose durable toys! Parents will usually be busy and children will be less supervised than at home, so choose toys that will take a bit of rough play. Personally, I’d go for a wooden toy or two. They are definitely more durable than a plastic alternative. This little fire engine costs only €17
- Choose toys that can be cleaned quickly and easily. Ideally, you want to be giving these toys a wipe down every evening, so you don’t want toys that need to go into a washing machine or toys that can’t be wiped clean, like card games or marbles. Something like this magnetic puzzle just needs a wipe front and back and it’s clean. It costs €12.99
- Choose Toys that aren’t destructive. Perhaps this is the reason a lot of businesses stopped having toys on their premises. Personally, I wouldn’t encourage balls or play weapons as it only encourages active play. You ideally want the child to stay in one place playing with the toys. I have found that all ages love playing with spinning tops and you have to be in one spot, near a flat surface to play which means the kids won’t be running around. These ones cost €12.99
- Choose Toys without Batteries. Toys that need batteries don’t encourage imaginative play and once the batteries have run out they often have little or no play value in them. Quite often they are noisy too and kids will forget to turn them off when they leave your shop or business. These Gift in a Tin Toys take up hardly any room but kids will love taking out the animals and setting up a farm or zoo They cost €13.99
- Choose Toys that can be used over and over again. It’s great if you go to a coffee shop or restaurant and your kids are handed a colouring book and crayons/colouring pencils. However, it’s very disappointing for your child if they open the colouring book and discover that the children before them have scribbled on every page and/or all the crayons are broken and/or there is no sharpener for the colouring pencils. It maybe works for younger children but I’d recommend these Step-by-Step drawing boards for older children. It comes with a wipe-clean board so it can be used over and over again and each of the cards can be wiped too. I stock a pink box, a blue box and an orange box. They cost €13.99
- Choose Toys that are suitable for most age groups. Generally, it’s younger kids (under 5) that look to be entertained. Older kids often know how to stay in one place and ‘behave’! Still, if you can find some toys that keep all age groups happy, it’s a winner. Playing with blocks is one of those toys, in my opinion. Duplo Blocks or these wooden blocks would make great entertainment for most age groups. They cost €30.99 for 100 blocks.
- Finally, Choose Inexpensive Toys. Toys can easily go missing and you don’t want to be in a position of having to restock your basket every month. All the toys above cost less than €31 each and the blocks (which are the most expensive) can still bring entertainment even if some do go missing. Even pocket money toys like these little robots (€5) and fairies (also €5) will keep kids busy.
Just think, you could have a basket with all these toys in it for €115! It’s not much to pay to keep your youngest customers happy and your older customers relaxed!