Choosing Clutter Free Toys – A guest post

The internet is a strange place! You end up meeting people with ideologies similar to yours, even without you ever actually having met them in person! One such person is Anjana (namesake ahoy!) of Mommy Republic and we both seem to have the same vibes about clutter free toys. Anjana Bhartia is a mommy blogger on MommyRepublic  and MyHealthSuraksha She describes herself as an imperfect mom stumbling through motherhood, discovering the joys of natural and attachment parenting along the way.

Read on to see what her suggestions for clutter free toy management!


How to keep your house clutter free from your kids toys!

With kids, at home, you always have too many toys spread around the home – in every nook and corner! You organize everything hundred times a day and still, everything is on the floor, sofa, chair!! Didn’t you clean that?!?! How kids manage to get toys and food inside every nook in the house is beyond me!

It doesn’t even matter whether you work or are a stay at home parent, if you have kids at home- a lot of toys keep on pilling up – and you keep putting them back – and on and on it goes!  When we look at our homes, we can find baskets overflowing with toys and our feet painfully discover Lego blocks every now and then!

No matter how much we try to remain clutter free – there is always something left behind. Clutter usually starts small but if we leave it unattended for a long time, it will eventually becomes a stressful task, doesn’t it?!?

Everyone wants to have a clean home, here by the word clean, I mean neat and clutter free home. But it’s difficult getting there, isn’t it? Here are some tips I follow while selecting clutter free games for kids.

#1. Less is more

No matter how hard we try for a minimalist lifestyle, we keep on purchasing something every week! It is important to say “no” to ourselves while buying something just as important it is for the kids as well to hear that! Our habits have a great influence on our kids too, so always look for the toys which your child is interested in. Don’t buy toys just because you are getting it for a good price or you might use it in future.

Sales and discounts entice people into thinking that they’re going to get a very good deal and they end up buying stuff which doesn’t get used!  Re-evaluate the toys which make your kids happy – and you’ll discover that out of the 200 toys that he has he enjoys playing with only 15 of them! Also avoid the childhood memories revolving around toys and focus on gifting your children memorable experiences.

#2. Put a cap on it!!

This can be done by organizing the toys and limit your child’s access to them. So, only keep those toys out which your kids play with frequently. Hide away half of them and keep rotating them so that the toy becomes “new”. These rotations of toys will ensure that kids play with everything periodically. Once in a while give them the privilege of and choosing and taking one game or toy themselves. This will show them the importance of these “special” toys!

#3. Always buy low clutter toys

 When it comes to kids toys, always be choosy what to buy. Before buying a toy for your child always ask the question to yourself “Will your child love this?” and “For how long? ” and “Does this toy allows my child to be creative? There are some toys like Legos, wooden blocks which are open ended and kids can use them creatively. Open ended games for kids helps to unlock your child’s imagination and are more beneficial than flashy battery operated ones!

#4. Buy Durable Toys
Before buying a toy, check for the durability and the quality of the toy. It may require you spending a bigger amount initially but when it comes to quality it is better not to compromise. Eventually, the toy can fetch good resale value too.

Here is a list of some Low Clutter Toys which has a good life

  1. Lego
  2. Chalkboard
  3. Art Supplies
  4. Kinetic Sand
  5. Felt Books
  6. Wooden Boards
  7. Colouring Books
  8. Playdough
  9. Train Table
  10. Board games

Outdoor Toys

  1. Trampoline
  2. Bats and balls
  3. Bubbles
  4. Kid’s bow and arrow set

Indoor and Comforting Toys

  1. Soft toys like animals, teddy
  2. Child-sized reading chair
  3. Blanket

#5. Don’t hoard – give away or sell them off!

Sentiment is good, but not all toys can hoarded in the name of sentimental value. You will make life difficult for yourself if you have more and more things to organize. Carefully evaluate which toys your child has outgrown and give them away. Or if they have good resale value, then sell them off. Let another child enjoy the toy that is going to collect dust in your storeroom!

Lastly, try to keep everything organized. Everything has a place, ask your, child, to put the toy where it belongs too. This will reduce a lot of work as it is also a great way to motivate your child to be well organized.

18 for ’18 – Goals and not resolutions for the year ahead!

18 for 2018! Sounds interesting right? Well, thanks to the Wearerealmoms network, I got thinking about this as well.

It started when Katrina of OneUPbaby got talking about realistic goal setting for the year ahead, as part of the December challenge of WARM. What I loved about it is that she stuck to the basics and gave ample scope for not just one, but many goals in 2018. So, without much chatter here are my 18 for ’18:

Folllow more about my goals with the hashtag #TheLazyParentGoals2018

 

Goals for me:

  1. Clean up – Right from photos to toxic people to unnecessary junk around; clean up your act. Best to do it in the first few months when you have the energy to push yourself harder.
  2. Love yourself – 2017 was an eye opener for me. From ignoring myself to literally making myself invisible, I had lost the plot. So, this year is more about loving myself for what I am, as I am. Simply because a happy me = a happy family.
  3. Make a solo trip – technically, read above 😉 But this one is on my mind for a few weeks now. Even if it means heading out for just 2-3 days, I want to get out on my own. No friends, no tag-alongs, nothing. Just me on the road/plane/bus/train/car.
  4. Get fit – Personal goal! Big one! Three years of bearing and raising babies has taken a massive toll on my shape and morale. Time to fix that. I don’t want to look my 2007 self, but I know I want to feel that way for sure!
  5. Learn an art / craft – I have modern lettering on my mind. I also wish to get back to painting. Let’s see how that goes!
  6. Get behind the wheel – High time I did it, don’t you think?
  7. Decide where I want to go – This is a mighty emo one. Will elaborate soon. But, it’s about making a space for me.
  8. Get offline more often – I think I have hit a saturation with Social media in terms of the amount of stuff that you get whether you like it or not. Here’s to lesser ‘general’ online presence and a more concentrated one.
  9. Get down to serious writing – No, I don’t want to jump the author bandwagon but I do have to document my mother’s life as a book/published work. This year it will take shape.
  10. Work on my temper – Yes, it needs a LOT of work despite my current efforts.
  11. Make money, save money – I am quitting my day job, so from now on every penny made is every penny saved.
  12. Wake up early – Gosh, I love sleep so much (especially the early morning time) that I end up waking late. I know it’s not criminal, but I really want to be someone who starts early.
  13. Practice humility. Enough said.

Goals for the family:

  1. Live well – In the chaos of raising two children back to back in three years, husband and I have given up good living. We make do with what’s available. Be it food, sleep or love. We just kept pulling on so that the wheels turn smooth. But what we forgot is that ‘WE’ are the essential aspect of the whole mechanism. If we aren’t healthy or happy, the kids wouldn’t be either. So, here’s to eating well, loving each other a lot more and enjoying a good life.
  2. Grow plants – Nurturing life is a beautiful feeling. Our new home has enough space for me to give my green thumbs a flex. Plus, the excitement of homegrown produce should get to the kids too right?
  3. Connect better – This isn’t a tangible goal, per se. The idea is to be more in touch with people around. My sister visited India this December and I got an abysmal 1.5 days with her. No time for proper conversation and a choked goodbye made me feel the need to connect more with my loved ones.
  4. Invest in the children – Lishaan is 3 and Isha is 1. They both are like a super absorbent sponge right now. I need to give them as much as they can take in and enjoy at this point in life. Travel, experience, learn, enjoy. (We are undecided about schooling yet, so it’s on me this year!)
  5. Have what you need, not what you want. Another aspect of decluttering. Minimizing to essentials and living simple, but living well.

What do you think? Do you have similar goals too? Which ones do you think are doable. Any tips? Tell me all about it!

~ The Lazy Parent

Surviving Singapore- A guide to enjoying an overseas holiday with kids under three.

It has been a month since and I blogged!! I finally got time to sit down and write about our maiden overseas trip with the kids! Benefit of having your in-laws nearby is that you can pack your toddler away for a good chunk of the day, while you get work done as the mini sleeps! 😉

So, let me come to the point of this post (before my daughter wakes up). December has been a monumental month for us because we finally took our holiday skills to the next level. Why? We managed to travel overseas for ten days with two kids. I know, some of you may say that it isn’t rocket science. But believe me it’s nothing short of that! At this point, I would like to record my respect for parents who travel with kid(s) on flights that are more than 5 hours in duration. *falls to ground, kisses it*

They say that if you are traveling abroad for the first time, Singapore is a great place to pick. It is easy in terms of transitioning from India to Singapore and you can do a lot of stuff in peace. I agree! I would recommend that as well. Lishaan’s 3rd birthday was coming up and the past two birthdays have been quite a story to remember. This year, we wanted to do something special for the boy and with good airfares, we nailed down the plan to S’pore town! So, without much story, let me tell you how we planned a holiday with two kids and on a budget of 80,000INR. That’s right!

(Photos of the trip right at the end of this post 😉 Just so you read!)

STAY:

This was the biggest deciding factor for us. A dear aunt of mine lives in Singapore and she’s been calling us over for a holiday for years now. Two babies later, the plan finally worked! With stay sorted, we had less to worry about in terms of comfort for the kids, basic food and of course, familiarity.

If you don’t have family or friends who can spare a couch for you, then Airbnb is a great option.

Word of advice: You will be spending MOST of your day (and night) outdoors. So, spend minimal on your stay. Unless you plan to stay put at the Marina Bay Sands 😛 That’s another story altogether!

AIRFARE:

We booked our tickets in September and managed to find a great deal on Air India. From friends who travel often, we heard that Air India was good and fuss free. I would second that. We had a comfortable travel, with good food for the kids and us. Even better, we got a bassinet seat for Isha on the way back (though my monkey never slept in it). Tickets came up to 35,000INR for two adults, one child and an infant. Yup, the half ticket got a separate seat!

Word of advice: As opposed to most airlines’ guidelines, Air India does not recommend breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby during take-off and landing (pacifiers are alright). This came in because of a choking incident the airlines faced recently, I gathered.

SIGHTSEEING:

Fuss free tourist work thanks to strollers on rent

The best thing about Singapore is that you don’t have to be a tourist. You can just explore the city on your own and not be worried about missing out on fun. I did my research and spoke to a couple of friends with kids to figure things we could do there. There are enough options to explore for mom, dad and kids (individually as well). Most of these tourist spots have a website and an online booking facility. Even better, there are packages that give you max benefit for your money.

I skipped some fun places like the National Gallery and the Art & Science museum for obvious reasons (my monkeys would have brought the place down).

Word of advice: We made a list of places we wanted to visit. Zoos, malls, Ikea and the likes. It’s good to have a list, because you can then make sure you’ve covered all aspects of the city.

COMMUTE:

Our mode of survival for the whole trip. Buses were quick, frequent, less crowded and easy!

The best thing my aunt did (among keeping a whole stash of good food ready for the kids) was that she got us the EZ Link card ready for travel use. The best way to get around town is to use the bus or metro services. They are VERY easy to figure and you can just about go hopping from station to station without much trouble. We explored a lot by bus (because of our choice of destination) but the metro is great too!

My transport Singpore is a great app that helps you plan your journey and suggests bus routes/trains as well.

Word of advice: Have your EZ Link card loaded or carry enough change. The bus stops have a chart that tells you the distance you will cover and the charges for it. The drivers speak less and it’s essentially to cut out unnecessary chatter. Figure the distance, have exact change on hand and hop on. Simple!

CLOTHES:

Singapore is a humid humid place! I did the mistake of carrying clothes for a chill climate instead. So, I ended up looking sweaty in almost all pictures. Carry comfortable cotton clothing and keep your layers to the minimum (That’s why most folks wear shorts and a tank top there!). Do keep a good pair of walking shoes in hand because you will be doing a LOT of walking wherever you go (if not to the destination). Keep an umbrella handy too. Lovely showers in this city!

FOOD:

From what my aunt tells me, the city has warmed up to ‘pure veg’ food in the past couple of years. So, you shouldn’t have a problem finding comfort food. However, please ask if your food is all veg. A KFC in Sentosa was kind enough to alert me that the fries weren’t fried in separate oil. Most places have a great food court with plenty of food options. You won’t go hungry while you are getting all touristy 😉

The local food is amazingly interesting. From the Malay Laksa to their Satays to the glass noodles, there’s plenty to explore. I being a vegetarian found comfort in pasta in most places (I KNOW! Don’t give me that look :P). As for desserts their street food ice cream sandwich in wafers and their red bean pudding on milk ice is YUM! Don’t miss that for sure!

HOW WE DID IT WITH TWO KIDS:

THIS is the main part, right? 😛

Lishaan is 3 and Isha is 1. Between my husband and me we planned the kids’ duty like so:

  1. Husband is in charge of Lishaan completely and I am in charge of Isha. This includes food, pee, potty, water, tantrums.
  2. We didn’t have a stroller (most tourist spots happily rent strollers). But we had our carriers and that was a live saving idea! No way could we have walked with both kids in tow or taken buses like we did, without babywearing. Dhana carried Lishaan in a Soul Cherry Linen Full Buckle and I carried Isha in the Neon Linen Soul AnoonA. Only two carriers for the entire trip and it was the perfect choice. Sweat free and hassle free.
  3. My aunt had stocked up on finger foods and snacks. So, we’d pack enough little snacks for the kids to munch on in between destinations.
  4. Water in Singapore is free. I mean that you have refilling stations at many places which give you cold, fresh water. So, invest in a reusable bottle and refill as you go.
  5. Minimize Luggage. We travelled with one large suitcase and one smaller one. This + 1 backpack. The large suitcase was the kids and me, while the smaller one was for the husband. The backpack was a roomy one from Fastrack that I picked up during my post pregnancy days. It held a diaper bag, two bottles, my emergency meds kit and wallet + some random stuff.
  6. Plan in parts. The first day was a stretch at the zoo. We kind of maxed out on our kids’ patience levels and got the result of it later that night. So, ideally break your day into two parts. Singapore is a city that comes to life at night. Most malls and shopping areas look stunning after sunset. So, we planned activities in two bits – mornings for sightseeing and evenings for a casual stroll around town.
  7. Google maps was a huge savior. Apart from just helping you plot a map of where all to go from where you are, it also recommends bus routes and train options. VERY ACCURATE. I survived on maps for most part of the trip.
  8. This might come as a pinch, but Singapore (and I think a lot of overseas destinations) straighten you up. Cabs function super punctually; you can’t cross the road wherever you want; no tossing garbage wherever you please; no line cutting; no nonsense, basically. It makes you respect the city and what it gives you.

Places I LOVED:

Ikea for the food :P, The River Safari, Marina Bay Sands and Orchard road. Given a chance, I would love to go back all by myself and enjoy all of this without a baby at the boob! 😀

So, that’s our trip and how we survived it. Tell me if it helps you and do share it with your friends too! 😀