by Rachel Ivey, Room to Grow Childcare
As a parent and home daycare provider, I am always looking for fresh ideas to keep a peaceful and tidy home. Like most parents, I want our home to reflect all of its inhabitants, but it’ s easy for our living room to get buried under Lincoln Logs. If this struggle sounds familiar, these tips will get you on a path to creating and keeping a home that is inspiring for you and your little one.
- Get real! Does that obscenely loud pull-cord donkey make your brain ache? Get rid of it. Remember, the goal is to share space with your child and it’ s ok for something not to work for you. If it makes you squeamish to get rid of it completely, put it in the attic for a week and see how your child responds.
- Create “smaller sets.” Limit each kind of toy (blocks, dolls, cars etc) to 20 pieces or less and create a special basket for each set. An average toddler can only be expected to pick up about two dozen objects without becoming frustrated. Attainable goals feel good for everyone and encourage growth.
- Banish the “toy box.” Although it might seem like one big box for all the toys would make cleanup easier, it can actually set kids up for failure. The most exciting thing any toddler can do with a big box of anything is dump it all out. This can create a mess too big for toddlers. If your child likes to dump things out, encourage them to dump out just one set, like blocks. Putting them back in the box can be great fun!
- Establish guidelines for play. In our daycare, it works for the children to play with one ‘ set’ at a time in a specific area. Far from being limiting, this inspires the children to get the most out of each material. The expectation to clean up independently before moving on takes absolute consistency from caregivers, but once the routine is established, it allows the children freedom to choose, offers caregivers opportunity for positive feedback, and reduces ‘ empty’ time that can lead to dangerous boredom.
- ‘ Off Limits Until…’ We have toys that are just for afternoon play. This encourages delayed gratification and self-control, and gives them something to look forward to! Consider offering particular toys only during the ‘ witching hour’ or while you’ re making dinner.
Making just these 5 changes will restore balance to your home and create a space where the whole family can thrive and play in harmony.
Rachel Ivey is a mother, owner and operator of Room To Grow Childcare and researcher of all things home and child. For tips, and advice on thriving with children, please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.