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Top 3 Things You Can Do to Connect with Your Inner Child

mother with small daughter blowing to dandelion

Much of our life is waiting for the next thing. When we were little, we dreamt about growing up and all the cool things that come with it; whether it was getting to drive a car or deciding if you want to have ice cream for breakfast. For many of us, that continues into adulthood. Somewhere in that, we got so excited for growing up we forget what it’s like to live in the moment.

Many of us look back on our childhood days and wish we can go back, and ironically that’s typically the time that we were wishing we could grow up from. While it might not be possible to call off work to go play on the playground, there are a lot of things you can do to help connect with your inner child.

Treat Yourself

Often, people feel silly buying something they might deem “childish”. But these things can be incredibly fulfilling to buy and play with! A great way to connect with your inner child is to have a day where you unabashedly do things that feel natural. Start your day with sugar cereal, re-watch some of your favorite cartoons, and get yourself a stuffed animal that reminds you of one you had when you were little. Also, if you have kids, this is a great activity to include them on. Plus, you can simultaneously teach them about your childhood while connecting with theirs. Take the opportunity to show them your favorite toy from when you were little, and then grant them the opportunity to tell you about their favorite toy!

Play

Play! It doesn’t matter what, just start. You could play kickball, you could play dolls, or you can play an old board game. The sky is the limit, and if you have kids, you can ask them what their favorite games to play are. You can go to the park, make a fort, or you can play dress up with their toys and them.  Not only does playing get our bodies moving, but it also gets our minds moving. Get silly, get messy, get to playing!

Live in the Moment

It’s easy to stick to schedules that make sense for us, and it’s easy to lose track of things that are important to us. But rather than forcing ourselves to get home, clean up, make dinner, clean up from that… Take a break. Take an extra 10 minutes before starting dinner to play make believe with the kids. You can also take that time to yourself to do some creative journaling or let out any bad emotions from the day. Dinner will still be there when you’re done. So much of our lives is waiting on the next thing to happen, and it’s important to just slow down and live in the moment; to experience life for all it has to offer.

At the Zoo Factory, we have a plethora of adorable pals to choose from, including cute clothing! Browse our selection, and we’re sure you will find something that speaks to your inner child. Treat yourself, or your loved ones, to a fluffy friend today!

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Why Seniors Love Stuffed Animals

stuffed animals

The very idea of a stuffed animal connotes something that is soft, cuddly and comforting. For the very young, these animals provide a level of security that can only be matched by a loving human counterpart. But what about senior citizens? Can stuffed animals provide the same comfort as they do for kids? Turns out, they can. Read on to learn more:

Stuffed animals provide companionship

More and more senior citizens are entering senior living facilities and nursing homes throughout the country. Many of them have lost spouses or loved ones. Some of them have no family to speak of, while others do not have routine family and friend visitors. Life can be lonely and challenging.

However, stuffed animals can provide a sense of companionship that many senior citizens lack. For those who live in skilled nursing facilities or require personal assistance, often times a stuffed animal becomes a source of entertainment or serve as something familiar within the room or at bedside. A stuffed animal or doll with a cuddly face and body can truly give people a feeling of comfort. Just one squeeze of a stuffy and all your troubles seem to melt away.

Stuffed animals remind seniors of their youth

These plush creatures are fully capable of putting smiles back on seniors’ faces, providing comfort, and allowing for endless hugging and nurturing. Stuffed animals remind the elderly of their own youth, or their children and grandchildren. Both elderly men and women can remember a time when they were younger and had a few stuffed animals or dolls that provided hours of entertainment. They remember buying or making them for their own children and watching them learn and grow with their own stuffies and dolls.

For those who may have a hoard of gently used stuffed animals that they would like to unload, consider donating them to a senior living facility or nursing home. There are surely plenty of senior residents who would love to snuggle with them, talk to them, comfort and be comforted by them. Giving a second life to a stuffed animal while brightening the day of an elderly person is truly a remarkable gift.

For more information, read through our blog or contact The Zoo Factory today!

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4 Ways to Sleep Better

You’re lying in your bed, staring at the ceiling. The time is 2am. You’re tired, but no matter what you do, you simply can’t fall asleep. You toss and turn for another few hours, somehow getting a few moments of rest here or there, before your alarm finally tells you it’s time to get up and start the day.

If this sounds familiar, then you’re certainly not alone. Plenty of Americans struggle with getting a proper night’s sleep, and in most cases, it’s because they’re not practicing the right bedtime techniques. So if you find yourself tossing and turning each night, then read over these tips for getting a better night’s rest.

Set a sleep schedule and stick to it

The key to a better night’s sleep is consistency. As much as you may enjoy sleeping in on the weekends, it can ruin your body’s internal clock. So pick a time to go to bed and wake up, and then stick to it each day.

Give yourself time to wind down

One of the reasons why you’re not falling asleep is because you’re not giving your body and mind enough time to wind down. You won’t be falling asleep if you’re still stressed about things that happened earlier in the day. Even watching TV or reading on our smartphones can have an adverse effect on our sleep. So shut off the TV, put away your smartphone, and instead curl up with a book roughly an hour before bedtime.

Use light effectively

Light impacts our circadian rhythm, so use it to your advantage. Avoid it in the evenings to tell your body it’s time to sleep, while expose yourself to it in the morning as a sign that it’s time to wake up.

Sleep with a comfort object

In order to sleep, you need to be relaxed. A good way of doing this is having a comfort object to sleep with. This could be a blanket (weighted ones are especially good for our sleep), a special pillow, or a stuffed animal.  Whatever your comfort object, it can provide a sense of security and ease that will allow you to sleep undisturbed throughout the night.

At The Zoo Factory, we believe every person could benefit from sleeping with a beloved stuffed animal. Need one for yourself? Then check out all of our cuddly stuffable animals that are sure to help you get a better night’s rest.

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Why It’s OK to Have a Stuffed Animal as an Adult

Woman with Teddy Bear

Stuffed animals are often thought of as children’s toys that you discard once you’re older. When an adult does admit to having one, they’re often shamed for it, but it’s not something to be ashamed of—far from it. As it turns out, stuffed animals can actually help adults live healthier and happier lives.

Stuffed animals ease anxiety

Adulthood can be hectic, especially if you’re in your 20’s and just getting on your feet. It involves a lot of anxiety as you’re trying out new jobs and new places. Stuffed animals, however, due to our nostalgic and sentimental attachment to them, can bring a sense of security, easing all those pent-up, negative emotions and even helping us behave better.

They give us company

I think we can all agree that a stuffed animal is more than just a toy. Just like our pets or friends, we get attached to them, no matter our age. They provide us comfort when we need it most, and friendship when it’s in short supply. In adulthood this can be especially the case, but our old teddy can help with that, giving us company and something to care for.

Lots of adults still sleep with a stuffed animal

We pretend like keeping our stuffed animals into adulthood is strange, but it’s actually much more common than we realize. According to a 2017 study, 40% of adults in America still sleep with a stuffed animal at their side every night. So if you’re one of them, then you’re in good company.

At The Zoo Factory, we believe that you’re never too old for stuffed animals. Take a look at our stuffable animals to bring a new friend into your home today.

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How Teddy Bears Make Adults Behave Better

stuffed bear on yellow couch

Yes, you read that sentence right. People are well aware of the benefits teddy bears bring to kids, but did you know they can also help adults? They can relieve stress, treat Alzheimer’s, and now, thanks to a Harvard research team, they can even make us behave better simply by being in the same room.

How They Did It

Harvard researchers Sreedhari Desai and Francesca Gino separated a group of people into two halves—one half was in a room with children’s toys (like crayons and teddy bears), the other was not. Each group was then asked to play games where subjects could influence how much money they and other people had by whether they lied or not. Researchers found that subjects in the room with crayons and teddy bears were less likely to lie and cheat, and were overall more generous, than the subjects in the other room.

Teddy Bears and Childlike Innocence

So, what’s the connection? Researchers believed it was related to purity. According to Desai, “Child-related cues might unconsciously activate notions of goodness and drive us to get to a pure state and not want to pollute it.” And it makes sense. Most people are on their best behavior around children, trying to set a good example. Having a teddy bear by our side may not be the exact same as having a child by our side, but our brain connects the two, and as a result, we behave better.

So, if you, or someone you know, could benefit from having a teddy bear in the room, check out our inventory or contact us for more information.

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The Evolution of Stuffed Animals

vintage teddy bear

At the Zoo Factory, it’s no surprise that we love stuffed animals. We think they’re great for people of all ages as a safe, healthy, and fun toy that everyone can enjoy. And clearly, we’re not alone: stuffed animals have been loved by people for centuries.

Let’s take a trip in time to see where stuffed animals came from, and how people came to love them in the first place.

The Early Stuffed Animal The Evolution of Stuffed Animals

Did you know that civilizations around the world have been making some form of a stuffed animal since the beginning of recorded history? Actually, it was the Romans in as early as 300 BC who are first credited with creating the rag doll, which were made with fabric scraps and filled with straw. These were mostly enjoyed by poorer children, who were unable to afford the pricier toys of the day.

The Modern Stuffed Animal

There are really two instances where the stuffed animals that we know came about. The first is the stuffed elephant created by Margarete Steiff in 1880, who first produced the toy based on a pattern she read in a magazine. She eventually started manufacturing thousands of these elephants, and Steiff’s company became one of the most popular in the world.

The other is the most famous: the world-famous “Teddy Bear.” In 1902, toymaker Morris Michtom saw a cartoon in the Washington Post about how President “Teddy” Roosevelt had spared the life of a bear cub when out hunting one day. The story inspired him to make a toy replica of the bear cub, and he ended up calling it a “teddy bear.” Of course, Michtom’s toy shot to international fame, and Ideal Toy Company, Michtom’s company, soon was the biggest toy manufacturer in the country.

Of course, stuffed animals have gone on to take a number of different forms, and appear in popular culture all over the world. But that history lends itself to their original creativity, and beloved comfort.

At the Zoo Factory, we pride ourselves on continuing that history with the best selection of stuffed animals out there. If you have any questions about our selection, contact us today!

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Ways to Relieve Stress on National Stress Awareness Day

girl resting under a tree with a teddy bear

We all know that life can be stressful. Balancing work or school, friends, family, and everything else is a daily chore; one which can sometimes feel overwhelming. But the key is learning to not let that stress control you. And that’s what National Stress Awareness Day, on April 16th, is all about: finding strategies to reduce that stress, and live a happier life.

Here are a few healthy habits to practice and ideas to reduce stress on National Stress Awareness Day.

Relieving Stress on National Stress Awareness Day

Keep a Journal

There are a number of benefits to keeping a daily journal of some sort—it’s great for time management, and helpful in strengthening your memory and your focus. But one benefit that often goes without mention is an alleviation of stress.  And it’s fun to keep a record of your experiences and memories, too!

Meditate

Meditation can come in many different forms, like yoga, sitting in silence, or leaving your phone in the other room while you concentrate. Whatever form it takes for you, a healthy meditation diet can do wonders to your stress levels. It lets you cleanse your mind of the day’s on-goings, and really focus on what’s in front of you.

Keep a Garden

This one is to all the folks who have any green space—be it a backyard, or park—close to them: get out there and garden! Planting flowers and taking care of a garden is one of the most proven strategies to reducing stress. Not only that, but it’s also great exercise. If you don’t have a backyard to plant in, get involved in your local community’s volunteer efforts.

Get a Stuffed Animal

To everyone here at The Zoo Factory, this one goes without saying. Having a stuffed animal by your side is a time-tested method of reducing stress, starting as early as childhood. Something about your favorite farm or jungle animal as a toy is just so comforting, and it’s no surprise that people of all ages love their stuffed animals.

At The Zoo Factory, we offer a wide selection of high-quality stuffed animals in all shapes and sizes for adults, and customized models and stuff-your-own-animal party packages for kids as well. So contact us today!

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Stuffed Farm Animals the Perfect Easter Basket Stuffers

Toddler with Stuffed Bunny

While the traditional Easter candy and other edible treats make great basket stuffers, a stuffed animal will become a lifelong friend to your children beyond the celebration of a once-a-year holiday.

That’s why we want to encourage you to incorporate some stuffed farm animals into your child’s Easter basket this holiday!

Froggy Favorites Basket Stuffed Farm Animals the Perfect Easter Basket Stuffers

Children that love frogs will adore a frog-themed Easter basket full of treats and gifts centric to their favorite animal. Fill colorful plastic Easter eggs with frog trinkets like shiny necklaces with frog charms, soft green socks, and dangly key chains. Tie the basket together with this adorable plush frog that will have your child hopping around with excitement on Easter morning!

Rainy Day Basket

Spring ushers in rainy days, perfect for splashing around in puddles! Create a rainy day Easter basket full of fun activities perfect for a rainy day, such as arts and crafts, treasured movies, new rain boots, and an umbrella with a silly pattern. Your child will love celebrating “duck weather” with this fluffy yellow duck and a new yellow rain hat.

Gardening Basket

April showers eventually bring May flowers, but you have to plant them first! Gift your little gardener with their very own gardening Easter basket, complete with packets of seeds, shovels, a bright watering can, and some fun gardener’s gloves. Make gardening even more fun with a garden buddy. This precious brown rabbit will easily help make gardening a new favorite pastime for your little one.

Soft and Sleepy Basket

Young kids love soft things to help lull them to sleep, so filling an Easter basket with only the softest treasures is sure to please! Pack a basket with soft, fleece blankets and small fluffy slippers. Throw in some fun soft pajamas, a new bedtime book, and the perfect snuggle buddy lamb for the ultimate bedtime basket!

Get a head start on your Easter shopping and head over to The Zoo Factory and select your child’s new best friend. Shipping is on sale for orders over $50 now through March 31st!

 

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Teddy Bears Bring Tears this Holiday Season

If you spend any amount of time on social media throughout the past week, you probably saw a lot of heart-warming stories.

One of our favorite “feel good” stories this holiday season involved, you guessed it: a teddy bear.

One story that took the world by storm last week was the story of Mariana and Sarahy Ramos, two little girls that received a teddy bear that brought them to tears minutes after pulling them out of their packaging. Their older sister recorded a video of them receiving the gift and shared it on Twitter, and the post went viral within minutes.  The video now has over 100,000 likes and 69,000 shares.

The Ramos girls lost their grandfather, Florencio Jimenez, last year under tragic. The girls Aunt Andrea purchased the two teddy bears for the girls as their Christmas gifts this year.

Both teddy bears contained an audio message that their aunt had pulled from a video recording of the girls grandfather before he passed.

The audio message inside of the bear was an inside joke that the girls had with their grandfather, following the sound of his laugh.

Their aunt wanted to give them something to remember their grandfather by and a cuddly teddy bear playing the the sound of his voice did the job.

When the young girls opened the gift on Christmas morning, they were immediately brought to tears Warning, you will be too after watching this clip.

The Zoo Factory also offers this feature, where you can record your own message to put inside of your bear of choice with a small recording device.

This is a perfect gift for a loved one for a birthday, a holiday, an anniversary, or just because.

Whether you are a young child saying “I love you” to your grandmother, or a grandmother saying “I love you” to a young child, it will be a priceless keepsake to your loved one.

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How One Teddy Bear’s Message Made This Grandmother Smile [Video]

When it comes to gifts, there is nothing that you want more than for the one you purchase to bring your loved one joy. And that is exactly what this teddy bear did for Mrs. Walters, a woman who lost her husband to lung cancer 11 years ago.

During their marriage, Walters’ husband had gifted her an adorable teddy bear with a sweet message recorded inside; “You’re the best girl in the world for me.”

Eventually the sound recording broke, which is when her granddaughter began searching for a company that could have it repaired.

Mrs. Walters now suffers from dementia, so her family wasn’t sure how much of a reaction the teddy bear would receive, even when its sound box was fixed. No one could have expected a reaction as joyful as this one when Walters heard her late husband’s voice again for the first time in years.

While our stuffed animals are typically purchased as gifts and party favors for children, a stuffed animal can make an incredible gift for anyone you love, especially when they are purchased with one of our customizable sound boxes.

These ten-second sound recording provide just enough time to tell someone how much you care, or to give them some sweet words of encouragement.

Whether you are looking for the perfect way to tell your partner, “I love you” or want to say, “I miss you” to your grandchildren living far away, a stuffed animal with your voice inside is a wonderful surprise that will be cherished for many years to come.

Shop online with The Zoo Factory to find a cuddly stuffed animal for your love one, and don’t forget to include a recordable sound box with your order for you to record when it arrives!