3Rs squared

(Reading + wRiting + aRithmetic) x (Reduce + Reuse + Recycling) = Swapseez UK

One thing we all want for our kids is that they grow up happy and healthy. But part of that also means fueling their appetite for information, which at times can seem insatiable.

But it’s also infectious.

We love watching the minds of our two boys ticking as they try to work out why something behaves in a certain way, what the next logical step is in a sequence or whether the ball they’re expecting to catch by holding their hands out will, in fact, hit them in the face instead (note – we never throw it that hard, because they are still rubbish at catching!)

Toys - general
Toys are great for developing motor skills, interaction with others and learning skills related to numeracy and literacy

Beyond some of those physical skills, though, which will come over time naturally through exploring, we want to ensure they expand their minds and especially quickly get to grips with numbers and words.

Toys are a great way to do this – they combine fun and learning, in the same way that lots of sports coaches will use shorter-format versions of their games to drill match intelligence alongside fitness in a subtle way, ensuring they get the hard-yards run without being conscious that they’re being completed.

Increasingly smartphones and tablet devices are helping with this. As we play more games ourselves, either on the move when commuting or at home when there’s nothing on TV, the kids are seeing this and want to jump in and get involved. However, as yet their motor skills are a little rough around the edges, and for the next few years they’ll be mashing the screen rather than carefully swiping to cut a rope or swap a few sweets around.

Spinny electric toy
Toys help develop sharing skills and encourage playing together

Which is where all those toys come in. While undoubtedly their future learning will be interactive with a screen and display, like us their early years will be learning driven through toys they can chew and others they can dance along to.

And they can be shared much more easily, too, helping develop those interpersonal skills that will be so important as they grow.

What’s more, we have been lucky that our parents kept so many of ours, and that our friends whose kids have outgrown them have passed them on to us.

And for that we’re thankful for two big reasons

One – money (let’s be honest!)

Toys can be expensive, especially brand new with bells and whistles, and batteries too. And if you whack a brand name on it, or align it to a popular film franchise or TV show, cost goes through the roof. In order to keep kids’ minds interested, variety is key and so, like most of you, our house is packed full of toys, drawers full of jigsaws, shelves full of books.

Bouncy zebra
This bouncy zebra has been put through its paces, and came out fine!

We once looked at our CD collection and established that we’ve probably acquired £3000 of music, based on cost-price of those items. And we did pay cost-price for those. If we were to look at the kids’ toys, you can probably think about that doubled, and were it not for bargain-hunting over the past couple of years aligned to the generosity of our friends and family, then the little ones probably wouldn’t have had such an exciting start.

But we recognise that we’ve been lucky, and so that’s why we’re committed at Swapseez to ensure that we find and pass on bargains ourselves.

Check out our books from just 50p, and definitely our £3 table as there are loads of great musical and electronic toys that will keep kids entertained for hours as well as developing some of their core skills.

Two – the environment

You don’t have to follow the media narrative that closely to know that resources are finite and it’s in all our best interests to reduce the amount we use, reduce waste we create, and make sure we reuse the items that we’ve already got.

Clearly, smartphones could be one way of reducing toy ‘waste’, as more can be done by developing new ways of using those resources. But for us, and especially while the kids are under eight, it’s about making the most of the plastic, electrics and wooden blocks they’ve already got, or that already exist.

Big companies are doing their bit, as evidenced by this story from a couple of years ago by GreenBiz, but we can do ours by buying second-hand.

That doesn’t mean compromising on quality. It just means that it won’t necessarily be as shiny as it would have been if you bought it off the shelf. (Obviously, at Swapseez we give everything a clean and a test-drive before it’s on sale!)

Quality assurance
This play table was put through its paces, and now has a lucky new owner, which is reducing the energy costs of creating a new one

So to conclude, that’s why we came up with the algebraic equation as outlined in the title and explained in the first line. It’s a bit convoluted, but it sums up our efforts nicely.

Do let us know what you think, too, as we’re looking for new ways to develop the business. Tweet us at SwapseezUK, join us on Facebook or simply email us (old skool!), or even leave a comment below.

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