Everyone knows that children come with a lot of stuff. This is something that Shane has deemed the hardest part about parenting(he's a minimalist; in his mind). Living in Toronto is certainly not a hoarder's paradise. Space is limited and with children, you need to do some serious organizing. We are constantly having to trim the fat where we can and keep only a few keepsakes along the way.
When people ask me what to get Zinnia for various occasions I used to crumble under the pressure. I hated telling people what to get her because I never wanted them to think they needed to buy her a gift at all. Once I got over it and realized I was being helpful to everybody involved by giving some suggestions, it became exciting.
Keeping Things Fun
I try to refresh Zinnia's toy shelf every few weeks. Sometimes I just swop bins and make different things more available, put things in new places around the house or change what is at her eye level. I will add or remove things depending on age appropriateness as well. By rotating, moving and organizing Zinnia's toys, I manage to get the most use out of the things we have which helps us keep the less is more mantra in our home. We also get to know more of her personality through the toys she chooses to play with and if a toy isn't played with at one stage, I bring it out again at a later time and it is as good as new!
6 Things to Consider when Designing your Child's Play Space:
1) Less is more. The more options a child has, the less likely they are to hone in on any one of them. Especially if many toys are piled into one bin or place. Even when you have taken all the extra stuff away, it can still appear full. I just do my best with this one.
2) Clear organization promotes cleanliness. If you hope your child will tidy up their toys, make sure it is clear where they go!
3) The child's eye level. Where they look is what will likely grab their attention. It doesn't hurt to get down to their level and take a look around. It's a whole new perspective!
4) The space/room it is in. Typically less toys in their room is better for bedtime routines in the early years. You may want to avoid rooms where you seek quiet time.
5) Checking all the development boxes with what is available to them. Do you have literacy, dramatic, construction, creative, fine motor or STEM toys accessible? It is important to offer a wide variety of types of play so a child can come in to their interests. I like to also include a "real life items" bin where I have been putting things from around the house for her to explore and learn their uses. Zinnia's current real life bin has old keys, an old blackberry, old credit/point cards, canadian tire money, jewlery and a purse. It has previously contained things like kitchen utensils and tupperware containers to name a few.
6) Calm/Quiet Space available. It's important to offer children a place of solace and peace. A calm and quiet space is great for winding your children down at the end of the day by promoting books and puzzles. It is also a great space for toddlers to calm themselves down when experiencing big emotions.
As your child grows, and their personality begins to shine, you can start to shape the bins and toys in each area to their personality. One child's dramatic bin might include dress up clothes and a tool belt, while another child's dramatic bin might include all the things needed to take care of a baby. It is important to support their interests by keeping their favourite things accessible. If they are in a phase of playing with the same toys over and over, they are only building more in depth skills in that area, so it's a great idea to embrace those phases.
Our play areas are not perfect! They are functional and work for our space.
I hope you have found this post helpful or informative. If you ever have any questions about age appropriate gift ideas for the early years, never hesitate to ask!