(This is a sponsored post by Pley, the awesome toy set subscription service. Netflix for blocks (and maybe Polly Pockets soon too).)
“I don’t know what to play with.” Admit it, you have heard that from your kids. I think it drives every parent crazy, but especially here in the United States where we know that our kids have and do so much! An “I’m bored” in my house is often met with a response about how I always have baseboards that need cleaning. But being over whelmed with toys is not necessarily a problem that just comes from ungrateful children. They really can have so much available to them that they don’t know how to focus or how to clean up. How many times have you found your kid in a trashed room of toys with them walking around aimlessly? Come on, I can’t be the only one;). But it doesn’t have to be that way. How I have always gone about my kids and toys is like toy rotation. But less of hiding things away and more about being intentional.
So lets take an infant. You put them in a play pen full of toys and walk away. They sit in the middle and fuss or cry, right? You wonder why they don’t just pick up a toy and start playing, right? Well, if you sit them in an empty play pen and hand them 1 or maybe 2 toys they are less likely to fuss. Seriously. I heard about this in a Babywise or Growing Kids God’s Way tape before I had any kids. I remember having this frustration with my siblings when they were little. So I had kids… I experimented on them. Yes really, I am that person. But I wanted to know if it was a fluke or actually a thing. And it seemed to be a thing.
This method is also considered really good for development. I mean if you think about it, you are giving them 1 thing to focus on. That means they really figure out everything they can do with it. If they can do something else with it. And it teaches them how to focus and work something out to its end. I know, it sounds way to deep for an infant. So lets jump ahead to that 3-10 age.
As part of our day, since the kids were mobile, we have always had some “go away from me and play” time every day that we are home. So you send a kid off to play, or a group of kids as it is in my house, and they can’t settle on what to do. They flit from thing to thing or can’t agree on anything! So I would always say, “Go play in the kids’ room. You can play with this or this. Which one do you guys want to do?” They tell me their choice and go play. No fighting and no whining. And of course at these ages I am not going to hand them one single rattle but a theme. They pick a set like the kitchen set, Lincoln Logs, Legos, or dolls. Often we would also get 2 who play with one thing and 2 who would play with the other.
Sometimes they will stick with these things for an hour or a week so they really get a chance to delve in to a project. Here is the other secret power of this. You can always make 1 of the suggestions something they don’t play with often. It can help them rediscover a hidden gem. It also can be a way to discover when something can move on to a home that wants it more.
Now that my kids range from 8-14, they do this to themselves. If they are heading off to play they will say, “I am going in the game room to play…” Not so much to ask permission but to let me know that they are getting into an activity and to let their siblings know in case they want to join.
That is it, really. That is my secret to kids playing and learning to focus. When you hear it, it sounds so simple. Yet, if you have never seen it modeled you may never have tried it. Try it out with your kids! Let me know how it works for you.
Oh, 1 extra benefit to mental development, not being bored, and not fighting? They at most have 1 set of things out (per kid) to clean up. So it makes the end of the day so much easier!!!
And if you are a Pley subscriber, you have 1 special set of toys that they can play with at a time! Once they fully explore that set, you just send it in and get another one!!!
(Disclosure: This piece was sponsored by Pley but all thoughts and opinions are mine alone!)