If you have ever lived in Mumbai, you will know how precious space is. We were two people, in one house, fighting for space on our bookshelves and grudgingly considering technology alternatives when we, you guessed right, added a third person to the mix!
As a first step towards not being devoured by our possessions, post-baby, we learnt to not (completely) give into the temptation of buying her toys to play with.
Vegetables- versatile toys that grow with your kid
So no toys. Gadgets then? Nope. No gadgets either. Vegetables are what we went with!
Veggies have remained a staple in our home from when T, our daughter, turned one. She learnt all about textures from sorting veggies when she was a toddler. Some vegetables are soft and others, hard. Some are ridged, others smooth.
Till T turned two, I followed development milestone charts with heightened paranoia and briefly went through a phase where I was convinced she was colour blind. That was until the veggies came to the rescue and T neatly sorted the tomatoes and potatoes into separate piles.
Shelling Peas at 1
Also, oops! She stuck a bright coloured toy into her mouth. No problem, that was just a washed carrot! You see where I am going with this, don’t you?
As she grows, the veggies grow with her. Now that she is learning to count, she counts different vegetables while she puts them away.
Then, we have the vegetable bags. We have just discovered that cloth ones not only make for a better environment but a bit of pre-schooler art can be used to label these bags in a fun way too. The elephant print for ginger or the giraffe one for onions, for example.
That’s our bag for Ginger now – Colouring on veggie bags at 4
Painting her own costume for favourite vegetable day at 3
Even parts of vegetables that we usually threw away contribute to the fun! She came home from Pre-K one day singing a truly sweet song about how plants grow. We threw a bunch of sun-dried capsicum seeds into a pot and she’s been delighted watching them grow everyday while singing ek chotta bheej to them.
Learning about germination at 4
Let’s do laundry – ageless fun for kids!
Another activity T really enjoys is doing the laundry. Clothes, like vegetables, have provided several hours of fun in our household. She has also learnt to put her Pre-K math skills to great use. For instance how much of what to use, how many times to turn a dial, in which direction. Much like veggies, clothes provide entertainment throughout the laundry cycle. Hanging them up has reinforced Pre-K numeracy concepts of relative weight. Mama’s clothes are heavy and baby’s clothes are light, so she can hand those over to me to hang.
She has also improved her motor skills a whole lot just by trying to fold that same kerchief over and over again, over the years. Now, she proudly folds her own pants before she crumples it up, throws it out of the laundry basket and settles into it herself!
Go get ’em toys erm… chores
We are working parents who need to get stuff around the house done when we are home. So, having our daughter do these chores with us is a win-win. We don’t have to worry about entertaining her, and having her do them with us has made some of these dreary chores fun, even for us! That all of it contributes to a sustainable lifestyle is an added bonus!
The first Roti T rolled (Play doh, nah. Atta, yeah!) – a yummy roti at 2
Kids enjoy nothing more than pretending to be adults, so T gets a whole load of satisfaction working with us while she learns concepts taught in Pre-K in more practical ways! So, go on, find your toddler and to-do list and start loving those chores!
Statutory warning: A lot of information is available on choking hazards and safe play for children – please ensure you are aware of the best practices before engaging your child. For instance, if they are around small objects like peas, when they are very small you will have to ensure that they are constantly monitored so that they don’t swallow it by mistake.