Wednesday, April 30, 2014

10 Simple Products to Foster Independence in Toddlers and Some Updates

I'm sorry I have been gone for so long. Every time I sat down to write, I didn't know what to say. I looked at this blank white space and didn't know what to fill it with. 
I have been mulling over the idea for this post for a while and it just came together, so here I am. I don't know what blogging will look like for me in the future, but I hope you'll stick around. 
I'm going to share 10 products that I think will actually improve your toddler's life and share just a few recent photos.  As always, you can keep up with me on instagram, too. 

New parents are bombarded with messages from the media and even well-meaning family and friends that children are very expensive and require a lot of stuff. We've made a conscious effort to limit the stuff we acquire for a variety of reasons. I expected that having a child would make this more difficult, but surprisingly it has made it easier. Having a growing little person encourages me to constantly reevaluate my possessions and eliminate/rotate as necessary.  I want her to be satisfied with simplicity, so I have to model it myself.

I'd like to share 10 simple products that will help your home become more accessible for your toddler and thus foster their independence.  (please note that I've included some affiliate links in this post. If you click and then buy, I get the teeniest of commissions.  Most of what I've shown here was purchased used locally, but I do deeply appreciate your support!)

1) Low Cube Shelf
Low shelves allow kiddos to easily access their toys, and a cube shelf reinforces the idea that every item has a place. It also naturally allows parents to easily limit the number of toys a child has out at a time. This cube shelf isn't perfect (you can see that longer items like our knobbed cylinders don't fit) but it works for a surprising number of toys.
We love hooks around here, especially Command hooks which are completely removable. They make it easy for kids to return their items to a proper place and reach them whenever they need them. It's so much easier for me to ask Eleanor to get her apron or put it away than to do both of these things myself.
3) Small Play Kitchen
Eleanor's kitchen is filled with her dishes, cleaning supplies, and her fruit bowl.  Kitchen areas give toddlers the chance to practice mealtime routines at their own level and pace, and reinforces ownership of their things. Look for something with lots of storage space and a simple design.
4) Shower Mirror
These mirrors are made of plastic, making them safe for little ones, and affix just about anywhere. They make it easy to reinforce daily routines like brushing teeth and hair, and general self care like wiping faces/noses. It's empowering for children to be able to see themselves and much easier to use a small mirror than to try to reach the adult-level one.
5)Collapsible Step Stool
I don't know what we'd do without this thing. We have a small home and can't keep a full-sized footstool out all the time. This makes it easy for E to grab things that would otherwise be out of her reach, like the sink for washing hands or brushing teeth, and she can set it up and tear it down herself.
6) Baskets
We have tons of little baskets and bins that we use to collect small items, especially toys. They keep things out of the way and organized, and make it easy to move toys around the house without losing any pieces.
Here are a few in her bedroom:
and in the living room:
This is a basic carpet sample, but it does the job. Mats are an easy way to control mess and limit space. When she selects something from her shelf, Eleanor is supposed to use a mat, though I don't always enforce this habit.  The mat limits the work space and keeps items from being lost. Here I use the mat to organize her shoes and socks. This mat, combined with her two hooks, is her landing space for coming in and out of the house. Her lunch bag hangs here, as do any sweaters or coats that she's using for the season. It has been essential for us to limit the number of items here and the mat makes it easy.
Kids need to learn to use shampoo and bubble bath and mini-sized bottles are an easy way to give them some independent practice without waste.  We use this shampooand this bubble bath.
This simple tool extends light switches so kids can reach them, and it glows in the dark. We only have one, in her bedroom, and she loves to use it.  We've been encouraging her to play in her room independently when she decides to wake up earlier than usual and this switch helps make that happen.
I used to set out two outfits for Eleanor to choose from (as you can see at the bottom of this post) but now she picks out all her own clothes. I try to only set out weather appropriate options and keep the number down. This rod hangs from the normal closet rod and is perfectly at her level. More bins in use for underwear and pants/shorts/skirts.
Speaking of picking out her own clothes, a few recent favorites:
IMG_1225 IMG_1070

Other recent things:

I've been trying to get her outside every day and observe nature. I've started a very informal nature journal by fumbling with watercolors. It's fun for me and she is already asking to join in.

We saw Ladysmith Black Mombazo!!! It was wonderful, especially since my parents surprised us with tickets and an evening of babysitting. I am the luckiest. 
The incredible Courtney organized a busy bag swap and we got a ton of wonderful activities for Eleanor to try. She loves this shape-matching work. I'm still holding on to a few activities for a rainy day. 
I took a trip to Portland!! Boy that city gets me.
Beautiful plants were everywhere. Raspberries along the highway
and I don't know what these are but I don't think that they are roses. Iowa was still very cold and dreary when I left and Oregon was buzzing with spring.
I ate at Pok Pok and it was so good.
My beautiful friend Phillip taught me about whiskey (seriously, he teaches a whiskey class. GO!)
and I had a few too many of these:
Being away was difficult but coming home to this buddy was so sweet. She's still my kitchen helper. Here we're making meatballs. That cheese is jack with morels and leeks. 
I've been knitting a lot, including these baby gifts 
AND A SOCK! Obviously sock #2 is still in the works. 
And finally, we've been shopping for one of these, but nothing yet:
Thank you, thank you again for coming back here and sticking with me. 
I hope all is well where you are. Are your plants starting to come up? Or is it still too cool? We have had tons of chilly rain which keeps it from feeling too much like spring, but I know warmer weather will be here soon enough.  
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