Monique Tait

Monique Tait

Oct 21, 2023. 3 mins read

Home Life

Parenting Hacks: How to Maximise the Benefits of Your Local Toy Library

Being a busy parent isn't easy. Amid the hustle and bustle of daily life, we constantly strive to keep our family happy, look after their wellbeing, make sensible decisions for our finances, and do our part for the planet. It's a juggling act that can sometimes leave even the most organised among us feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately, there's an answer that can contribute to achieving all of these goals: a toy library. In Australia, toy libraries are everywhere in local councils, but this sometimes overlooked toy community offers an array of benefits to keep our kids entertained, educated and our wallet and planet happy. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

Toddler is Playing With Blocks At the Toy Library.jpg

What can you expect from a toy library?

Local toy libraries are open a few days a week and offer kids' stuff to borrow, such as kids' toys, games, puzzles, costumes, party equipment, and even special needs toys for children ages 0-8 years old. As they are not-for-profit community organisations and member-run, they incur a small annual fee, with discounts for concession card holders and even grandparents. Simply join, borrow, and return (cleanly!).

We love that toy libraries reduce clutter, enable children’s development through play, reduce environmental waste, and embrace frugal living. Even the Albanese government is investing in Toy Libraries Australia, but getting a membership is just the starting point. There are a few planning tricks to keep in mind to make the most of your membership. Let us share!

1. Explore the catalogue before you visit

Before heading to your toy library, take some time to explore their catalogue online, if available. Most toy libraries have websites and/ or online databases where you can browse their collections. This way, you can plan your visit more efficiently and make a list of the items you want to borrow. 

2. Reserve toys in advance

Some toy libraries, such as City of Melbourne, allow toy reservations, a fantastic way to save time and ensure you get what you want with as little hassle as possible.  

3. Ask for recommendations

Don't hesitate to ask the volunteers, library staff, or other parents for recommendations. They often have valuable insights for:

  • Popular toys

  • Toys that are particularly beneficial for different age groups 

  • Discovering new toys you might not have considered otherwise

  • Special needs or sensory toys

4. Schedule library visits

Set a regular schedule for visiting the toy library, whether it's weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. Consistent visits ensure you get the best value for your money and not only keep your child engaged with fresh toys but also create a sense of anticipation and excitement.

6. Combine learning and play

Educational toys for young kids stimulate their cognitive, physical, and social development while they play. These toys can help children learn essential skills and concepts in a fun and engaging way. Many toy libraries offer educational materials, such as:

Use your toy library visits as an opportunity to combine learning and play. Pick up educational toys and books that align with your child's age and interests.

7. Encourage responsibility

Teaching your child to be responsible for organising their belongings and borrowed items is an essential life skill. Discuss the importance of taking care of the borrowed toys and returning them on time. This not only instils responsibility but also ensures that other children can enjoy the toys as well.

8. Explore thematic borrowing

Consider borrowing toys based on a particular theme or topic to create an immersive learning or play experience. For example:

  • Dinosaurs

  • Food

  • Farm life

  • Dress ups

  • Construction and engineering

  • Fantasy and fairy tales

  • Space exploration

10. Share feedback

Provide feedback to the toy library staff about the toys and services you've used. Your input can help them improve their offerings and make the library more valuable to the community.

By implementing these parenting time-saving strategies and maximising your toy library membership, you can enhance your child's playtime while saving money, contributing to a sustainable toy community that supports the circular economy, and reducing household clutter. 

Additionally, for people interested in further avenues for acquiring secondhand toys, participating in toy donations, and engaging in the sharing economy, Sassybae offers a soon-to-launch mobile app in Australia, facilitating parents to swap toys conveniently.

For more information, check out Toy Libraries Australia. Happy parenting and happy playing!

Monique Tait

Monique Tait

Mothering . Wife . Founder . Chicken Wing Aficionado .

When she's not scouring the city for the best fried chicken joint, she's busy being a parenting superhero, starting with her new toy swapping app called Sassybae. Because let's be real, what better way to show your love for your kids than by swapping out their old toys for new ones? Monique is on a mission to make parenting easier, one wing and one toy at a time.

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