A few parenting ideas that worked for us... - A Movement In Time And Space — LiveJournal
Moving through time and space in our own way
A few parenting ideas that worked for us...
This is specifically for fu_shu_jing, but anyone expecting to have kids or already with very small kids can feel free to use these ideas. I don't want this to sound like I'm giving advice or telling anyone what to do...but rather, I'm just sharing what we did and what worked.

We had a general criteria for gifts for our kids when they were babies that we politely asked people to consider when buying gifts for them. No battery-operated anything. Kids are loud enough as it is that they don't need toys that add to the din. Some of those kinds of toys are just plain obnoxious and loud and I would worry about the kids' ears. Some of those toys were annoying as hell to Chris and myself as well. Plus, I swear my kids use their imaginations much more now because of the lack of toys that told them what to do, when to do it and had flashy sounds and lights to divert their attentions.

I think we had only two or three toys that used batteries in the past five years! One of the good ones we found which was a huge hit with my kids was the Fisher Price piano, which unfortunately they don't make anymore. It was simple, it was not LOUD and it it had a volume control and an off switch (amazing to me how many electronic toys don't have off switches!!). You could set it to play classical pieces when a key was pressed or you could just set it to play the note. We usually had it set to play the note that they pressed. Maya loved it and it was one toy that we made sure to keep for Nadia.

Anyway, the way that we accomplished the no-battery-operated presents thing was to have themes for our parties. For my baby shower during my Maya pregnancy, the theme was books. I asked everyone to give us a new copy of their favorite childhood book. I think out of all the books we got, we only had two repeats! It was awesome...she got all levels of books too, from Dr. Seuss books to Madeline to the full set of the Narnia books. I bought the full set of the Little House books. Board books and regular books, picture books and read-on-your-own books. We had our kids' library all set from that. We were SO happy with that theme.

Then for the first birthdays, we had the loose theme of Imagination. Which meant, again, no battery-operated toys. We wrote in the invites what the theme was and what we meant by it. I can't remember how it was worded exactly (I'm sure I have the invite still in my stash of memories but don't ask me to find it!), but I remember that no one was offended in the least. As a result, she got wooden blocks, puzzles, games, stuffed animals, dolls, a pound-the-ball toy, a wire bead toy, etc. Erik was dubbed "Uncle Lego" because he'd always give them Lego sets. Again, we were very happy with that.

After that, all our friends knew our stance on the battery thing, so we never had to really say it again. They got lots of arts and craft gifts as well, since I was always into that stuff too. Those were the gifts that I would get excited about!! And whenever we gave gifts, we always tried to give in the same way. Action figures, games, tea party sets...I had a tradition of always giving a FULL set of Ikea kids dishes for the first birthday.

Everyone loved it because they were perfect for little fingers and easy to clean and very durable. And for one-year-olds, they loved the colors and that there were enough that they could also play with them (each set had a six different colored plates, bowls, cups, knives, forks and spoons). The set I have made the cut and came with us to Seoul. :-) By the way, Ikea is AWESOME for kids' stuff. Most of the furniture in the girls' room came from Ikea.

Anyway, what was interesting to observe from all this was that whenever we went to someone's house, the girls would play with the battery-operated toys at first, lured in by the flashy lights and loud noises, but would get bored with it when they realized there wasn't anything THEY could actually DO with it. Even now, we have things like Baby Leap and LeaPad, but Maya and Nadia seem more content with looking at picture books and doing their puzzles (Nadia is obsessed with puzzles!) and using their imaginations with their horses, stuffed animals and doll house.

This thing with no-battery-operated toys started more as a way for Chris and I to avoid the annoying sounds (and they were less annoying back then than they are now!) we would no doubt hear all the time. In the end, though, it turned into a huge benefit for the kids as well.

Tags: , , , , ,
What I'm feeling: nostalgic reminiscent

11 thoughts or Leave your thoughts
From: gabbytheguy Date: January 26th, 2006 01:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I will admit some on Audrey's battery operated toys annoy the hell out of me...but having said that she also has a good range of other toys which she's equally happy to play with, including Duplo blocks and puzzles (which she's really into at the moment).

I tend to agree that I prefer toys that fuel the imagination, and usually when I buy toys for Audrey I look for things that do just that. As much as I love Lego, they have annoyed me lately by making their sets "themed" which to me defeats the whole purpose of Lego.

Audrey has a Leap-pad which she's had for some time now, and has really only just started to take an interest in it. She's always enjoyed her books, and still loves to sing along to nursery rhymes.
xpapergirl From: xpapergirl Date: January 26th, 2006 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
My babies adore their puzzles. Grandma has no battery toys..just toys from when Daddy was a kid..so they have farm sets, legos, puzzles, stuff like that. We have the battery operated stuff...but hardly used.

The ONE battery operated thing that we LOVE is the Glow Doodle. Its a tablet like thing that you slide a template into, and trace it with these cool markers, then take it out, and light it up, and the drawing glows. My babies LOVE it! And the AquaDoodle. All the fun of coloring, but with water.
sammykate From: sammykate Date: January 26th, 2006 06:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great advice. And good of you to share it.

Although it doesn't reduce the noise in our home, we are big fans of musical instruments for chidlren, with one stipulation: they have to make a pleasant sound. I would rather buy a kid-sized real guitar than a "toy" guitar that makes an awful sound. Wooden instruments and instruments from different cultures are always a huge hit with our kids.

We also try to avoid battery-operated toys, especially those that are what we call "sit back and watch" toys - that is, the ones that you just press a button and it does all the playing for you. We bring out our battery-operated train and set it up under the Christmas tree each year, and the kids are fascinated because they have always had to push their trains to make them go. We also try to keep a lot of dress-up options available.

As they get older, it becomes more and more about skateboards, bikes, scooters, electric giutars...sigh. At least I still have a couple of small ones (though Hallie is rushing full-speed-ahead to try to catch up with her big sister).

If you receive the ineveitable loud toy and your child won't give it up, you can afix clear packing tape over the speaker to lessen the unbearable din and protect tiny ears.
(Deleted comment)
priyabradfield From: priyabradfield Date: January 27th, 2006 12:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought of you when I writing about battery-operated toys. ;-)
(Deleted comment)
priyabradfield From: priyabradfield Date: January 27th, 2006 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I figure that they are ok for me. They aren't annoying and aren't loud...well, not the toy, anyway.

From: junetoo Date: January 27th, 2006 01:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Since my wedding I've felt fairly isolated. I'm the first of my friends to get married and now I'm the first to be pregnant. I hardly talk to them anymore because I feel we are worlds apart now. Maybe when and if they marry/get pregnant we can reconnect.

Plus all my family is back in CA and I don't have a good relationship with them anyway. Other than suffering from similar severe morning sickness and the advice she provided on that my mother hasn't been much help. My MIL is in Thailand and doesn't speak English. I have no sisters.

My few LJ friends are the only people I know who are young, married couples with small children.

I have no one else around me giving advice so I really appreciate it!
priyabradfield From: priyabradfield Date: January 27th, 2006 01:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I understand. There were a few friends who I lost contact with after having Maya. The marriage wasn't that big of a deterrant because Chris was also in that group of friends. But having the kids, yeah, that made it hard to socialize. I remember going out and then having to get back home with Maya by 7 or 8pm and my friend couldn't understand why I was going home so early. It didn't hit her that my baby had to go to bed and couldn't just go home and do it herself!

Once you get a bit settled with the pregnancy, I would suggest you look into mommy groups around your area. The one I suggested to slave2three which she ended up joining is called MOMS Club. Their national website is http://www.momsclub.org. You can go there and look up local chapters. It was a godsend for me, as I've said before - it is what got me out of the grips of PPD. Those friends who sent us that huge care package for the holidays are from there. I believe in it so much, I started a new chapter in an area that didn't have one! Most women join it after having the baby, but we had a few members who joined before the birth just so they could get advice and make some connections and get support.

And if you ever have questions, I'm always here for you. :-)
sammykate From: sammykate Date: January 27th, 2006 04:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I hope you don't mind me replying to this, but I feel for you - and I understand a little bit how you are feeling.

I was also the first of my friends to marry and have kids (besides one friend back in Maryland, but I was living in Phoenix at the time and only saw her once a year). In addition, we moved to California, where I knew absolutely no one, when Justice was five months old. I had no car, no money, no friends, and my family was 3,000 miles away.

Anyway, I met Priya through MOMS Club when our daughters (my 2nd and her 1st) were infants. There are five of us with daughters the same age who started out as a MOMS Club playgroup. Now we are all good friends. Those of us who still live here see each other every week, babysit for each other, go out once in a while without the kids and vacation once or twice a year together - and I keep in touch with Priya and try to keep eveyone else up to date on what's going on with her and her family. I don't know what I would've done without the friends I met through MOMS Club - it really is a great resource.

And, if you feel like you need one more online mommy-friend, please count me in. I have three daughters so, while I may not know everything about children, at least I've seen a lot.
From: junetoo Date: January 28th, 2006 09:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
No I don't mind. Thank you :)

I will definitely look into MOMS Club. I'm sure this isolation will only get worse once the baby is here.
11 thoughts or Leave your thoughts