Every mom battles the guilt, no matter if you are stay-at home or a working mom: Is my child learning enough? Is my child active enough? Is my child engaged enough throughout the day? Etc, etc, etc. Please tell me you know what I mean...
I battle daily with keeping my children in structure based activities outside of the home, doing guided activities within the house, and just letting them have some free time. And it's a really hard decision to decide how much is enough? My son, who will be four this winter, attends preschool two mornings a week. As of now, that is all we have on our schedule. We usually attend story time at the library once a week and I am trying to decide if I want to add on a little fitness class in there, but other than that, he is good to go! Between school and playdates and times at park---this schedule keeps him pretty wiped by the end of the day. But I always struggle with the question, should he be doing more? So many kids where we live attend school now 3, 4, or 5 mornings a week. Kids his age go to summer camp. They have sports class, art class, music class, etc.
And as much as I want him to be engaged, I also think it is important for kids to be at home just being kids. Because we all know kids are kids---and they will only be young once. So I have planned several times in the week where we are just home: me and the boys with nothing on the schedule. This allows me to get some chores done around the house, engage with my boys, and just let them play.
And yes, my oldest does complain at times that there is nothing to do. But ninety percent of the time, he keeps himself engaged pretty well. He plays trains, cars, and trucks. He cooks in his "play" kitchen! He pretends to be characters on television: Bob the Builder, Super Why, Handy Manny, and more. He plays Toy Story with his little characters. He looks through books. He has pretend phone calls with his Meme, cousin Jack, or his Daddy at work. He does puzzles like a super star. And most importantly, he loves to be my little sidekick: he loves to vacumn, help cook, read magazines, or do anything that his mommy is doing!
To keep my kids engaged and exploring at home, I am always on the look out for toys that keep my little ones busy, possibly provide a little learning enrichment, and will last through the years! We are SO excited to share with our readers some fabulous toys that were found on Etsy below and all of these would be TERRIFIC gifts for special birthday or holiday gifts.
Our first toy that we would like to share with you is the I Spy Bag that are created by Etsy shop Giggle Junction.
Michele, the shop owner, hand makes these adorable bags. These bags come in several options (I picked a fire truck for my transportation loving boys while Courtney opted a cute owl bag for her sweet girls). Sewn into the bag created by Giggle Junction are all sorts of objects that the children have to find. There is a laminated card attached to the bag to show you all the different objects inside. It is perfect for keeping little ones engaged for long amounts of time and I found it great for Andrew whose vocabulary is just starting to explode as he tries to name every object in there. And I love how simple it is to grab and take places---perfect for doctor's visits, car trips, and stroller rides!
Michele will be giving away to one lucky reader a bag of their choice from Giggle Junction AND for all Chirping Moms readers, she will do a free personalized name on the outside if you purchase a bag. Just include the child's name in the message to seller when purchasing---how awesome is that?!?! And enter below for your chance to win one of these terrific I Spy bags!
The winner of the iSpy bag is Leslie L. Congratulations!
Another great toy for any household with young children is play food. I think that every child that has walked through our house has played with our play kitchen and all the food in it. It really can keep kids busy for hours! My boys make me breakfast, cookies, spaghetti, and so much more. Now, if only they cook for me for real like this when they are sixteen, I will be one lucky mama?!
We love the play food that is created by Leslie, the wonderful shop owner of chikin feathers. Look at these strawberry pop tarts at Aiden set out on his table while he was playing "breakfast" one morning. It really makes one crave a real Poptart, right? You have to head over to chikin feathers to see some of the cutest play food that I have ever seen. It really beats the old spice jars my boys have or the miniature plastic grapes that we have stored in our play kitchen. Chikin feathers has adorable bow tie pasta, sandwich sets, cakes, donuts, and check out this delicious looking cheesecake that Alex was playing with below:
And we are so excited because chikin feathers is offering 10% off any order through the end of October with the coupon code: CHIRP10 and giving away the sweetest set of pancakes to one lucky reader.
The winner of the play food set is Andrea! Congratulations!
And check out the glove that Courtney used to read 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed with Maggie and Alex. Her girls were so excited to make Courtney's fingers jump up and down as the monkeys jump on the bed!
In the shop, So Simple So Sweet, you will also find Biblical characters, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Holiday Puppet Sets (Easter, Christmas, Halloween), and more. So Simple So Sweet also carries finger puppets, felt bracelets, felt games, and some adorable handmade ornaments. Go check out all of the great creations in the shop So Simple So Sweet!
And make sure to check back later to see what toddler activity of our favorite bloggers is going to share with our readers!