A couple of years back I had some friends who had a huge, beautiful house. They weren’t at all messy people – but as soon as they had kids, toys covered literally every surface. It wasn’t untidy as such, but it was an overwhelming sea of coloured plastic everywhere you looked. Every corner, surface and even the windowsills were fair game!
I remember thinking that the only way to keep your sanity would be to forbid toys in the sitting room. But Minimalism + Toy Rotation have changed the game completely. My children’s bedroom is actually my favourite room in the house! It’s so peaceful, aesthetically pleasing and I love to sit and watch Sausage & Bean playing together, from my comfy reclining chair.
Did you know, decluttering actually has health benefits? I know that when I am having periods of stress, lethargy or low mood, you can almost guarantee my home will be in disarray. Now of course, when you are feeling demotivated you do let the housework slide. But the very presence of all of that junk and chaos presses in on me – it’s like a permanent reminder of all the work that I ought to be doing. The stress-clutter-guilt cycle becomes self-perpetuating. However, as soon as I claw back some control and get back to minimalism, I feel an immediate sense of calm and an uplifted mood.
This week has been a little testing in that regard; it was the twins’ first birthday, and they were totally spoiled rotten by our friends and family. We love everything they received, but our choice to have completely baby-led gift-opening meant that we’ve had 4 days of paper & packaging strewn everywhere, and many more toys available at once than usual! This, off the back of six weeks of on-and-off bugs in the house, meant I was SO ready to simplify again.
I breathed a sigh of relief after the last present was opened – but it took me a good day to sort through it all, reorganise the storage so everything new has a home, choose which of their old toys no longer spark as much joy, donate the surplus and (of course) choose this week’s toy rotation.
So, we start with three beautiful wooden push-along toys. The duck was my favourite charity-shop-find to date! Couldn’t tell you who makes it or where to source, since it has no markings on it. But it is deliciously smooth to touch, and the spherical wheels are really satisfying. (This was one of the two toys we got the twins for their birthday – one each – in line with our desire to keep the influx of stuff minimal!) The zebra car was a gift from an uncle, and the green car was from a friend.
Second comes another new addition: the Melissa & Doug wooden pound & roll ball tower. This toy comes with a hammer, but at 12 months we felt it would be more developmentally appropriate to start with just pushing the balls through. (It really helps little ones to focus, the more you can simplify activities to begin with.)
They literally played with this toy for an hour when they first opened it, and found multiple ways to explore with the different openings. It’s actually a very open-ended toy, provided you resist the urge to show them how to do it the ‘correct’ way! Given time to explore with it creatively, they got to utilise their problem-solving skills and explore object permanence.
Here’s a short video, taken a couple of days later. It still holds their attention almost exclusively! (Video is only a short clip because I had to cut their faces out. Excuse the lighting – it was 5pm on a very grey day!)
Next, we have an old favourite: our Sound Shape Blocks. These beautiful blocks have real longevity, and have grown with us. Initially they make a lovely sensory toy for younger babies, with the beads making different sounds.
Then of course there’s the stacking element – children get to practice controlled-release. Blocks which stick together (like mega bloks or duplo) don’t allow children to practice gently releasing a block so that it doesn’t topple. There’s certainly a place for these toys, but I don’t plan to use them until my twins have got the hang of stacking conventional, wobbly items!
Finally, as the children grow we’ll be able to start exploring the colour-mixing aspect – overlapping different blocks and holding them up to the light.
Our Music Basket this week features two gorgeous mini maracas, which are really ergonomically pleasing for tiny hands. These were another birthday addition (we used them as party favours) but I was secretly pleased when we had some left over!
Here we also have our bell (Christmas ornament!) and our nut shell shaker.
Finally, over to our book shelves. You may have noticed we’ve had an upgrade from our cheap-and-cheerful shoebox! We picked up this lovely, child-sized, front-facing book display in Ikea. It’s certainly in line with Montessori principles of using child-sized equipment and making materials inviting and easily accessible for the twins to use independently.
I am so in love with our books this week – all gifts from our Amazon wishlist. We are working towards a
more feminist less gender-stereotyping library, after it was brought to our attention that most children’s books are all-male, have silent/stereotyped female characters or cast women as princesses! Nothing wrong with princesses, as long as there’s a healthy balance of women in there. I also dislike stereotyping of men, and particularly Dads, in children’s lit.
I look forward to reviewing these when I start our Book Nook series, but suffice it to say I thoroughly recommend all three!
What’s on your shelves this week? Or are you new to the concept of toy rotation? Comment below to let us know!
See something you’d like to add to your own rotation?
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