DIY Pampering is a New Way to Play
Laurie Leahey is a toy expert and senior editor at TTPM, where she reviews toys and baby products. She also MCs TTPM's two annual showcase events and has "talked toys" on NY1, Pix 11, News 12 The Bronx, News 12 New Jersey, and other news programs across the country. She gets valuable first-hand toy experience thanks to the best toy tester in the world, her 4-year-old daughter.
Making bath bombs, lotion, etc., from scratch offers kids the opportunity to think creatively about how they want the finished product to look, from color and shape to scent.
DIY bubble baths promote self-care toys with a science angle, providing STEM learning as kids pamper themselves.
Self-care toys– even those that come pre-made–can engage and stimulate the senses, from the relaxing scent of homemade essential oils to the feel and sight of a fizzing bath bomb.
Regular self-care play can help to instill healthier coping mechanisms in children, so they are better equipped to respond to stressful situations later in life.
Taking "me time" through play teaches kids the emotional benefits of taking care of themselves and that it's possible to find happiness away from a screen.
Kids love doing what they see their parents or caregivers doing, whether that's playing with a baby doll like a "real mommy" or cooking up pretend food in a play kitchen. And in today's #treatyoself culture, self-care has also become a play pattern for kids.
Do It (For) Yourself
Arts and crafts aisles are filled with DIY bath bombs and body butter, customizable fragrances, make-your-own lip balm, and at-home spa day kits for kids. Some of these toys double as science toys, bringing a little STEM learning into the self-care routine. As kids play and pamper, they're introduced to scientific concepts, such as acids and bases, chemical reactions, and molecules. It's nice when a toy provides educational benefits in a fun way.
There are creative benefits to it as well because kids are making something from scratch. Kids can choose the shape, color, and scent of the finished product, giving them the chance to think creatively as they customize what they're making.
But you don't have to make anything to participate in the self-care toy trend. Parents can also buy pre-made spa toys for girls and boys, such as bath bombs that fizz open in the tub to reveal small collectible toys. In shopping for my daughter, who is obsessed with bath bombs, I've also come across face masks for kids. They don't reduce the size of pores, but they're packaged up like trendy rainbows and sloths, and they smell good.
The Importance of “Me”
These pre-made versions, along with their DIY counterparts, offer emotional benefits to kids as they use the products. Indulging in quality "me time" through play relieves stress and helps a child's emotional wellbeing. Regular self-care play teaches kids the importance of taking care of themselves, which can help them respond to future stressors in a healthy way. It also helps kids seek happiness outside of a screen.
That's probably one of the most important features of self-care toys: they don't involve screens. Both the making and playing/using happens away from a TV, phone, and computer. This shows kids that purposely removing oneself from the distraction of screens for a few minutes can be rewarding and fun. Even if kids don't really know that it's "self-care", experiencing this play pattern at a young age can make taking time to pamper oneself more of a natural activity as kids get older.
And that's ultimately what kids want from self-care toys - to feel grown-up as they do grown-up stuff like Mom and Dad. But remember: our children learn by example, so parents need to make sure that they're putting down their devices and engaging in self-care, too.