Monday, January 14, 2013

This Is Not A Toy

I have to confess, I am guilty of letting Ayden play with items that are not really toys or that blatently warn, "This is not a toy" or "Keep out of the reach of children." Now, we are not talking knives and household cleaners here. We are talking about fascinating things like plastic bags and other packaging, cords, necklaces, anything that resembles a stick (chop sticks, markers, etc)... things are are actually pretty harmless if you are sitting right next to your child while they play with it. Why would I do such a thing?? Well, Ayden LOVES pretty much anything that is not a toy and honestly I don't see any harm in it.
"Cat tails and dog treats are toys, right?"
These were my failed attempts at sending David a picture of Ayden this morning. Haha.
Does this make me a bad mother? Nope. This makes me a normal mother. I have had many a conversation with other mommies who also confess that they have let their child play with a suffocation or strangulation "hazard" if it will bring them a few moments of peace. Children are drawn to them and love them so much more than any child-safe toy on the market. The thing is, it is only a hazard if you leave your child to explore these non-toys unattended. As a parent you must learn to choose your battles wisely because if you don't you will quickly become worn down and exhausted. This being said, be sure to be there if you decide it is okay to give in and let your child experience the sensorial sensation of a plastic grocery bag or the like. What a great opportunity to introduce vocabulary like "smooth" or "crinkly" and to discuss colors and textures. If your child is super interested in the object you are describing they are even more likely to soak up every word!

"Boxes too?"
(My sweet mother-in-law got me a case for the sewing machine they got me for Christmas!)

We were talking about this very topic with our good friends last night. They came over for dinner and afterward we were entertained by Ayden's shenanigans. We got his tunnel out and after playing in the tunnel for a while, he moved on to the packaging, as babies almost always do. As I handed it to him, and was actually encouraging him to explore it, I looked up and said, "This probably has some sort of warning about how I should not be doing this" and low and behold it sure did. He touched it and manipulated it a bit, realized that it wasn't as cool as he thought it might be and moved on. No harm done.

The older Ayden gets the more clear it becomes that he really doesn't need many toys. It is nice to have some that he can safely play with when I am busy and can't watch him as closely but for the most part he spends his time exploring every non-toy he can find. This is why we are adopting a Montessori, minimalistic toy rotation system. We got his new toy shelf which has space for 9 toys. And that is all he will have out at a time. This will make clean up easier, especially when he starts helping with that, and will encourage him to focus longer on toys since he won't be distracted by so many choices. When we notice he stops pulling out a certain toy we'll know it's time to rotate it out and replace it with a different one. This will keep old toys new and exciting and will prevent us from having to purchase more and more toys.

After Ayden's birthday I plan to transition his room from the current baby-friendly set up to a more kid-friendly set up. I'll be moving some stuff around, putting more clothes in his dresser drawers and transforming his closet into a storage space for the toys that are out of rotation. I've done a lot of reading and research and think we are really going to like the new set up once it is in place.

Do you use a toy rotation system? Pease share any tips in the comments below!


1 comment:

  1. I don't have a system implemented yet, but I'm currently moving us toward Montessori based play because my son also has little interest in toys and prefers to play with practical objects (that's what I call them, lol). He would much rather mimic our adult activities. We never let him play with passive toys/battery operated stuff, but rather stuff he had to manipulate and strategize with. I feel Montessori fits in with our style but we never knew that. I look forward to hearing/reading more as you make the switch!