At the start of the year, I was contacted by The Smart Toy Club about a trial period of their toy rental service.
At first I was skeptical, why on earth would renting toys be a good idea. It sounded, quite frankly like one big hassle and then there were other concerns, like what about the cleanliness of the toys.
Would they be covered in germs from the previous house they had been in. So I read through their website and under the frequently asked questions section, there was the answer to my biggest concern:
How do you clean your toys?
We take the business of ensuring toys are cleaned and sterilised very seriously. Before you receive any toys from us they have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Some toys are soaked in Milton, rinsed and dried. Others, such as battery operated toys and books, are wiped thoroughly with anti-bacterial wipes, guaranteeing toys that are cleaner than any received from a retail shop.
Well, as long as the toys are clean, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try the service out and see what it’s actually like.
This is what I found
- The toys were all clean – which is a lot more than I can say about what they looked like when I sent them back.
- The lovely people at The Smart Toy are really willing to listen to feedback. The first bag of toys we received were too babyish for Oden and I let them know, the following bags were all a lot more advanced
- This is an excellent option if you dislike clutter – Toys arriving once a month and leaving once a month meant that new toys weren’t just piling up all over the house.
- It’s also handy if like us, you’re migrating and don’t want to collect anything extra that will need to be shipped across the world.
- If your child is growing like a little weed, their interests are likely to be changing just as fast. If they need constant stimulation and get bored with their toys, this is an excellent option.
- I was worried about not knowing where something was on collection date but this is a fun new way to teach responsibility – keeping the toys in their bag teaches them about looking after something that isn’t theirs. Oden is two and yet he understood perfectly that these toys don’t belong to him and that they need to be looked after nicely and kept in their bag. After playing, we made it a fun game of putting the toys back in the bag. Every time he wanted to play with the toys, he’d ask for the toy bag and then we’d get everything out and play with it. It also helps that you are sent an email with a collection date and a handy reminder of the toys that you need to put into the bag.
- It was also a really good way to teach Oden about not getting very attached to things. I used this experience as a lesson in playing with something that doesn’t belong to him and then saying good-bye to it when it was time to send it back. He hasn’t cried once for the toys leaving even though he has loved the selection in the bag. He knew from day one it was only temporary. I think too often we undermine our children’s abilities to understand things if we just explain them properly to them.
- Worried about toys breaking? So was I and honestly, there have been moments when I’ve held my breath and hoped that I hadn’t just heard a crack but the website says they use durable toys and I have found that to be accurate. If my rambunctious toddler could play with three months worth of toys and not break a single item, it must be a good sign. If your child does break something, you will be charged for it so that’s something to keep in mind. In my opinion though, you’d have paid for it anyway if you purchased it and the risks of breaking something are low so it’s worth taking the chance.
How does it work?
How do I get the toys each month?
You can either collect (if you’re in Cape Town) or toys are delivered throughout South Africa.
How much does it cost?
If you collect, it’s R249/month. If they deliver, it’s R299/month for Western Cape, and R349/month for national (standard courier conditions apply, available between work hours).
How many toys will we get each month?
You will get a varied selection, chosen by the Smart Toy Club moms and can expect between 4 and 6 toys each month depending on the retail value of the toys in your bag.
What ages do you cater for?
They cater for kids from 6 months to 5 years.
What types of toys will we get?
They believe children need a variety of toys to keep them engaged. The toy inventory includes battery operated noisier toys, educational toys, wooden toys, trendy tech toys (such as Leap Frog), books, puzzles and games.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, absolutely! We really loved our experience, it was completely positive and it was great for Oden to try new toys and experience a variety of toys that we might not have bought for ourselves. During the three months we tested this service, Oden didn’t break a single toy so the toys are hardy and not easily broken. They were always clean and very carefully chosen to suit my little man. He played with all the toys and kept them in their bag and when we sent them off, he enthusiastically opened his new and exciting bag of toys. I would definitely recommend this service to anyone who doesn’t want to spend the money buying fancy toys, or maybe doesn’t want clutter adding up in their house. Whatever your reasons, this is a service we definitely give our stamp of approval.
Would you try this service? Have you tried it before? I’d love to know – leave a comment and tell me what you think!