Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

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(Home Management) Toy Rotation


Toys are wonderful things. They can stimulate creativity, provide entertainment, and have the potential to enrich the childhood experience. But there can be too much of a good thing. Has your child ever come to you, complaining of boredom and dramatically declaring that there is nothing to do? But when you look around, the floors are littered with numerous sets of toys, half-worked puzzles, and mismatched games. Toys that you and grandparents spent lots of money on! How can they be so ungrateful?

As adults, we are (largely) aware of how our workspace impacts our state of mind, ability to work effectively, and our level of creativity. When there is too much in front of us that is demanding our attention, we can become paralyzed or ineffective. Where do we even begin? I felt this way about cleaning my house just today!

It is the same way with our kids. While variation in their toys can have a positive impact, unorganized quantity can render them useless. Even though play is different than work, our minds function similarly in both scenarios. The less that is immediately in front of us demanding our attention, the more focused we can be on the task at hand, allowing our minds to exert energy on depth instead of surface management.

When it comes to toy organization, the best place to start is with a simple box system, a concept that I have written about previously. The boxes enable you to easily store the toys in a variety of locations such as in closets, on shelves, under beds, or in the attic. The next step is to implement a toy rotation. Every few months, rotate out the toys from deeper storage into storage that is readily accessible to the kids. Then encourage them to only get out one or two boxes of toys at a time. This allows them to be completely focused on the play at hand. When they decide at some point that they want to move on to the next activity, clean-up expectations are clearly defined: return the first activity(s) to their boxes before taking out another.

You will quickly find that the toys take on a new life, as well as an increase in your child’s attention span and creativity. And all it took was a few little boxes.

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(Deep Cleaning) Pre-Christmas Toy Purge

The month before Christmas is a perfect time to do a toy purge. The biggest reason is because kids are often more willing to part with their junk old toys when you tell them it is to make room for their new Christmas presents.

So one day this week when you don’t feel like braving the cold or the crowds for last minute shopping, spend a couple of hours doing a toy purge. Have one bag for trash and then another bag for toys to donate. A couple of hours spent now can save your sanity after Christmas.


Tip: Don’t make your ambitions for this project so great that it is overwhelming and you don’t do it at all. If you only have an hour to spend on the task, then adjust your expectations accordingly. This does not have to be a complete toy organization overhaul. A brief, high-level toy purge can make a HUGE difference.

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(Organization) Car Organization #1

cartoysMost of us spend quite a bit of time in our cars. And inevitably, time spent there often ends up being much longer than anticipated. We hit traffic, errands take longer than planned, or you find yourself waiting for somebody. Whatever the circumstances, it is miserable for everybody when the kids are bored and tired of being in the car.

Be prepared for those unexpected travel time extensions by keeping a small to moderately sized basket of toys in your car or van. You can include coloring books, travel games, small toys, and hand-held activities. The basket gives the toys a contained home when they are not being used and the toys will hold added interest because they are outside of the kids’ normal toy rotation. That thoughtful selection of toys will be your saving grace when your trip takes an unexpected turn.

*Tip#1 – If you have a smaller car or more passengers, making space an issue, keep your small basket of toys in the trunk. Usually when there are long delays, you usually have an opportunity to get out of the car to access the trunk. This keeps the toys handy but out from underfoot. Another solution is to purchase a bag that attaches to the back of a car seat, leaving you with the needed foot room.

*Tip #2 – There are frequently places we go that do not have ready entertainment for kids. Instead of packing a bag of toys every time or when you come to one of these situations unexpectedly, the toy basket is mobile and ever-ready to entertain!


(Organization) Kids’ Keepsakes

Her first painting. The outfit she was brought home from the hospital in. Her favorite teddy bear. A lock of hair from her first haircut. Her 1st place spelling bee ribbon.

These keepsakes are invaluable, to both you and your child. They are treasures to be cherished.

Yet when they are mixed in with all the other toys, pushed under the bed, crammed into the closet, or even when too many of these items are accumulated, these precious items are no longer treasured and certainly not protected. They eventually get broken, thrown away, or lost. In short, they become clutter.

Buy a medium to large storage tub for each child to contain their own little treasures. It will help preserve the condition of the items as well as the magical sentiment that they hold. As you look at potential keepsakes and watch your stash of treasures grow, it may also free you to get rid of items where less sentiment is attached.

In later years, or maybe even currently, your child will love to dig through their little treasure chest and either listen to the stories that you have to tell or renew their own memories. It is a gift that will last a lifetime.

Tip: If you find that your child starts to consider everything a “treasure” to be saved (this most frequently happens with artwork), keep a smaller box to temporarily hold the items. The child will be satisfied that you are keeping their treasure and you can sort through the artwork, by yourself or with the child, several months later. The passing of a little bit of time will reveal the true treasures.


(Classic Play) Dirt Discovery

Kids are drawn to dirt. Boys and girls alike can find the pull irresistible. Whether it is the simple pleasure of being dirty or the quest for treasure that lies just below the surface, us adults don’t always quite understand the appeal. Kids need those moments, though, to throw care to wind and become immersed in dirt play.

Look for, or create, a place with loose dirt in your yard that you can designate for the kids. Sandboxes are great, but are still a more defined form of play. Give them old tractors and dump trucks or even just plastic spoons. Turn them loose and watch the hours slip away.

Playing in Dirt


(Crafts) Marshmallow Madness

Miniature marshmallows and toothpicks. Need I say more??

Let the fun begin!


Follow my family’s marshmallow adventures here!

*Tip: If you let the marshmallows set out for a few hours prior to using them, they will harden slightly and give a more solid structure to the marshmallow and toothpick tower.

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(Cooking) Sandwich Shapes

star sandwichesBring a smile to your child’s face with a simple sandwich. Use cookie cutters to make their sandwiches into fun shapes! This can be a fun lunchbox surprise, a twist on a snack for your child’s class, or a fun kitchen activity that your child can participate in. What shape will you make?

*Tip: Use the cookie cutter to cut the individual sandwich components and then assemble. If you assemble the sandwich first and then apply the cookie cutter, you run the risk of having a squished sandwich.


(Crafts) Tissue Paper Craft

tissue paper craftThis is a craft that can easily be adjusted for kids of all ages.

colored tissue paper
a blank piece of paper (type and color of your choice)

Cut the different colors of tissue paper into 2″-3″ squares. The squares do not have to be neat or exact. Have the child crumple the tissue paper squares into little balls and glue them onto the blank piece of paper. They can do this free form or they can choose to draw (or have you draw) a light sketch onto the paper for them to fill in with the tissue paper.

*Tip – Older children can make more detailed pictures my making the tissue paper into smaller, tighter balls. For younger children, it might be helpful to use slightly larger, less crumpled squares so that they are able to cover more area quicker.


(Classic Play) Board Games

Candy Land Board games and classic childhood go hand-in-hand. This age-old form of recreation holds immense value. Playing a board game isn’t about being entertained, but about being involved and active. It stimulates the mind and provides the opportunity for interaction.

This week, pick a time to engage your child in a game of Candy Land, Monopoly, Chutes & Ladders, Sorry, Life, or Clue and pass on the classic childhood torch. Sometimes it is the simplest of activities that brings the greatest sparkle to the eyes of a child.

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(Crafts) Melted Crayon Art

Here is a new use for all the broken crayons you have lying around: melted crayon art!


Peel the paper off of the crayons. Light the candle and hold a crayon above the flame for 2-3 seconds or until it starts to melt. Then quickly move the crayon over the paper. The child can choose to do a drip collage (picture below) or press the crayon onto the paper to draw a picture of their choice.

*Tip – Set aside a small jar, box, or bag that is dedicated to storing your broken crayons. This keeps your main crayon box tidy and saves your broken crayons for this fun rainy day craft!

melted crayons