I love my kids more than life, but I'm also a pretty introverted person, and interacting with small loud people all day long takes a lot out of me. I thrive on silence, and I depend on quiet to fuel my creativity. I need consistent time on my own to recharge.
Thankfully, my kids have been trained early on to go to bed early, so I have lovely evenings open to spend working on my artwork while Mr. Man and I watch TV. However, days can be long and a break from the kids is necessary (I love them all the more for the times we spend apart). Dooter still enjoys one or two naps a day, but Yummy doesn't sleep during the day anymore.
Instead of trying to make her sleep (ha! Sometimes I doubt I can actually "make" that strong-willed girl do anything) and then paying for it later when she can't fall asleep at night, Yummy has a quiet time while Dooter naps in the afternoon. The break from human contact seems to refresh her as well as me, and as it has become a routine, she rarely complains about it.
To keep Yummy busy (and away from unproductive pursuits like taking all the pictures off her walls, or climbing on her dresser...), I have created a number of Quiet Bins. I recently gave them an overhaul, to regain her interest. Here's what I have on the go right now (some of the photos are a bit small -click on them to see a larger version):
The Ocean Bin
The Ocean Bin consists of: a boat (made from a milk carton and covered in purple duct tape), a fishing net (made from some netting, a plastic lid, and a stick), a picture of dolphins, two felt flowers I sewed together, the blocks and treasure chest from Yummy's mermaid kit
, two dolls with felt mermaid tails, and a margarine container covered in felt & fabric containing fish and water animals (some Schleich animals, and some from an Ocean Toob by Safari Ltd.) and real seashells.
The Horse Bin
The horse bin is full of horses, a crocus coaster, a saddle, and a small lavender sachet that came with a stuffed animal (very soothing to smell!). This bin is often paired with the hair accessories case -Yummy puts clips in the horses hair and wraps hair bands around them.
The Forest Bin
I wrapped some plastic dip containers in felt for this bin -a grass one to hold some baby forest animals (from Schleich), and a mushroom one to hold some fairies that came in a Safari Ltd Toob. I also put in a couple pieces of fabric, some little purple doilies, felt flowers, silk flowers & leaves, a necklace and a bracelet, star and butterfly toppers from some old glow sticks, felt leaf sleeping bags, a clay leaf boat, some sparkly pom poms, a little black rock, a lid lined with blue foam paper for a forest pond, and a mirrored block from a set we own.
The Girl Bin
The girl bin has lots of little dolls and clothes, a little brush, a bracelet, some hairbands, pipe cleaners, a felt sleepsack I made, another mirrored block, and a tin ball from Terry's chocolates we had from Christmas -it holds the clothes.
The Tea Party Bin
The tea party bin has a few little dishes, a vase with plastic flowers, a cloth tea bag with felt crackers (pretend tea bags), cloth napkins, paper doilies, a strawberry headband, a soft mouse, and a long purple scarf which serves as a tablecloth or a babushka.
These two cases get added on with the other bins, as requested by Yummy. The Hygiene Case contains: a flowered shower cap, a pumice stone, a purple travel soap case with a pretend felt soap I made inside, a hair brush, a toothbrush, and some little travel sized bottles -I emptied the toothpaste tube and hot glued the lid on to avoid sticky paste all over Yummy's bed.
The Hair Accessories case (I forgot to take a photo of the case -oops!) is full of hair clips, elastics, bands, etc. Yummy finds all sorts of interesting things to do with these.
There you have it -my ticket to peace every afternoon! It did take me a while to put these together, but I really enjoy doing it and I like surprising Yummy with a new combination of fun things as well. Most of the items came from things around our house, things I made, some from the dollar store and some from the thrift store, so the cost was pretty low. I like to hide things away now and then, so they get forgotten and are super exciting when they are brought back out months down the road. Sometimes Yummy just needs to see different ways her toys can be used, rather than getting all new things, or finding ways to accessorize what she already has (like with the felt things I made, or the hair accessories from the dollar store).
Of course, you can create your own themes, based on your childs' interests (I have plans for a farm themed bin and a princess bin in the works), and always remember to make sure that the items you put in the bins are safe for your child to use without supervision!!
Anyone else use Quiet Bins? I would love to hear your ideas! I know these bins have an expiry date as well and soon I'll be looking for something different to put together.
**Update (August 18, 2013).
The newest Quiet Bin is a Princess Theme.
Princesses sort of make me want to gag -despite this, Yummy has developed a love of them. They bring her such joy that I find it hard to refuse her. Hence, the Princess Bin. I introduced it a couple days ago and now she starts asking if she can do Quiet Time right away in the morning. It is SO hard to wait till afternoon to pull out this treasure!
I included: a Tinkerbell tin with Cinderella magnets inside, two wands, two doll-sized felt crowns, a Hello Kitty mirror & brush thingy, a handful of plastic rings and bracelets, two big scrunchies, two cake-topper princesses, two princesses with snap-on dresses, a Hello Kitty purse with crown hair clips inside, two little horses and a brush, a little plastic rose bouquet, and a sparkly container with a couple hair clips inside. I also made a couple felt crowns with elastic around the back and decorated them with fancy buttons, so Yummy can dress up a little as well.
I was very fortunate to have stumbled upon most of this stuff at a garage sale; the rest I picked up at a local thrift shop, the dollar store, so most of it cost about $5 total. I splurged and got Cinderella and Rapunzel from Liquidation World.
Yummy is in love with this bin and even stacked up some cushions in her room to be able to reach it from high in her closet, early one morning. Today she also requested the Horse Bin so that the princesses could meet the horses.
New Themes (I'll link here to my future posts of new bins)