…Alec's five favorite things currently...Tegu Magentic Blocks: According to Oprah Magazine "embedded with magnets, these adorable, non-toxic, delightfully low-tech, wooden blocks are guaranteed to get your kids imagination up and running"... and I couldn't agree more. Seriously, this block set is awesome. Alec and I literally play with these at least once every day. They keep him occupied for up to a half hour and sometimes that's all the time I need to prepare dinner before Kiel gets home.
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench: This specific toy is recommended for children 2+, but Alec has been playing with it for months. He mostly loves the wooden hammer. He carries it around almost all day. He uses it mostly to soothe his gums (teething is in full effect), but he also enjoys pounding it on the bench. The puzzles are also great. I, in general, love all Melissa and Doug toys. They are well- crafted wooden toys that promote hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Little Tikes Cozy Coupe: Alec got this for his first birthday from Kiel's parents. At first, we had it in the garage and it was seldomly used because we didn't go out there much. So one day, we decided to bring it down the basement with the rest of his toys. It was a great decision, because he now uses it daily. He will literally get in and out 15 times in a row, and I will occasionally give him a wild ride full of vroom's and sharp turns. He loves it.
Bright Baby Book Set: Alec loves these books. They are just his size and they fit easily in my bag. He mostly browses them in his car seat, or occasionally in his room before his nap. Sometimes, we sit together and go through each page, pointing and naming all the objects we see.
Ikea's Circus Tent and Play Tunnel: Ikea is the best. I love their children's department. Everything is super inventive, and SUPER affordable. I wanted to get Alec a play tent, but I didn't want to spend over a hundred dollars, which many of them are. I found the circus tent at Ikea for under $20. It was a steal. I will admit it isn't the most quality product, but it gets the job done. We play peek-a-boo in this tent often, it's one of Alec's favorite games. And the tunnel was also a great buy.
All of these items have something really important in common. Not one of them lights up, sings, or moves. Each one of these toys encourages imaginative play and I really appreciate that. I feel like most children's toys are super over-stimulating and what's funny is that Alec really gravitates towards his more basic toys. Does this mean that he doesn't have a singing Elmo, or a light up keyboard, absolutely not. He does and he likes those toys too, but they don't really hold his attention like these items do.
It was always important to me that I do my best at keeping things simple. I don't want to have a basement filled with toys that are never touched, only to hear my child complain that they are bored. I want my kids to learn how to entertain themselves, how to use their creative mind to make regular things fun. I think I am doing an okay job thus far, but every now and again I have to reel myself back in. I have to remind myself to let go of my type A behaviors and just sit down and play with my boy. These moments don't last forever, so I am doing my best to soak them up as much as possible.