8 Ways to be Organised for Play at Home

As you may have gathered from a range of guest posts previously on the blog, I love the idea of play and creativity with bubs! From 5 Sensory Tubs ideas to 10 Brilliant Baby Play activities, along with Messy Play for Babies at home, and 9 Amazingly Easy homemade toys for babies, we’ve covered a range of play ideas for babies. But with all these awesome ideas, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to manage it all and work out how to be organised for play at home. That’s why I’ve asked the most passionate mumma I’ve ever come across for Play, Erin, to share with us her secrets for being organised for play at home with your baby – and she’s even chucked in some brilliant play ideas for young babies too! Grab a cuppa and enjoy! (Thanks Erin xx)

8 WAYS TO BE ORGANISED FOR PLAY IN THE HOME WITH YOUR BABY AND 10 PLAY IDEAS FOR BEYOND THOSE FIRST FEW MONTHS

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…so hands up Mummas who have recently welcomed a beautiful bundle of joy into the family-Congratulations!! As you enjoy the snuggles that only a newborn baby can bring and those eyes staring back at you, do you ever wonder where to next? How can you stimulate your baby’s learning and help them discover the world at this young age. Where do you even begin to organise play? How do you create a stimulating and inviting playspace for your baby? What type of play is suitable for your baby as they move beyond the newborn stage?

Today I’m sharing with you the ideas, templates and systems we use here at //celebrateplay// HQ to help organise play for our babies, ways to stay organised in the home to fit more play in a day and add fun to our family life with our little learners along with fifteen of our favourite play ideas that you can create in your very own playspace for your baby. This is a blog you don’t want to miss, so grab a cuppa, a notepad, curl up and enjoy!!

‘Create a space that fits your life’.

//PLAYROOM INSPIRATION//

Over at //celebrateplay// HQ, we strongly believe it is important to “Create a space that fits your life”. Why? Because the space we live in has a remarkable influence on us…it nurtures relationships and connections, creates ambience, persuades our moods and in some cases even provides us with a sense of belonging. In the early years, children often spend time playing and learning in a playspace – whether this be a dedicated playroom, corner in the home or the nursery. And like us, they are influenced by the space they live in. So let’s deep dive into how one can go about starting to create a playspace that fits their life?

Grab a pen, notepad and your preferred drink – this is going to be a long one and you will definitely want to jot down some notes.

I’d like you to decide on an area in the home that will become the play space. Now, think about the shape and size of it, the available wall space, the amount of floor space, the safety of the area, the versatility of the area and the quality of light at different times of the day in the area. Once you have decided on the suitability of the playspace, you can begin setting it up. This is often the most exciting and fun part as it involves colour, creativity, toys, decor and shopping.

Here are some tips to help you start the process:

  • Little spaces don’t mean little furniture. A large cupboard or cube storage unit (IKEA Kallax, BUNNINGS Clever cube, KMART cube storage) can store lots of toys and display them so babies can see and reach them. Remember to secure furniture to ensure your baby’s safety.
  • Collate all of your baby’s toys before buying any storage solutions. It helps knowing exactly what resources you have and what type of storage will work best particularly if you are in the market for new furniture.
  • Have a look around the home to see if any furniture can be repurposed. Eg. We recently repurposed our nappy change table into an outside toy storage unit.
  • Ensure you have adequate light coming into your play space-can you tie curtains up, open blinds further (remember to follow blind and curtain safety procedures with cords and ties), use brighter light globes, install a skylight.
  • Think vertically – can you utilise wall space with shelves or artwork. This can create the impression of a larger room/space.
  • Can the inside of cupboard doors be utilised?
  • Display children’s literature- it adds colour and sets up a culture and enjoyment of reading.
  • Will nature work in your play space-greenery can add colour and encourage creative play.
  • Can you create an art gallery to display children’s artworks? Again adding colour but also providing babies with a sense of achievement.
  • If you are on the hunt for new toys aim for buying open ended toys-toys that allow active explanation and many types of different play?
  • Add a splash of colour with artworks, coloured baskets/boxes/cubes, baby rugs, play mats, bunting or mobiles.

Please don’t try all of these ideas, especially if you instinctively know it isn’t going to work in your home-that is key to creating a space that fits your life. The best way to find inspiration is by trying ideas that you are confident will work in your play space which will vary from mum to mum and home to home. To read more about playspaces, head on over to join our private online support group //celebrateplay//.

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//TOY ROTATION SYSTEM//

A toy rotation system is great as it provides babies with a variety of learning experiences and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. I have found that low line cube storage is an ideal height for babies to see/reach their toys and they can be displayed in themes such as animals, transport, farm, kitchen accessories, colours, balls, etc. As your baby grows, you can move into using boxes in the cube storage with each box labelled and colour coded to assist with the ease of packing away. Why labels? Besides loving labels from a pretty and practical perspective they also provide children with spontaneous learning opportunities to focus on colours, shapes and reading. Toys can be rotated weekly/fortnightly allowing babies to consolidate, develop interests and learn new concepts.

//HOW TO CREATE A TOY ROTATION SYSTEM//

  1. Choose a location – I recommend choosing the area where your baby plays the most.
  2. Collect all the baby toys – Take a look at what toys you have and want to include in a toy rotation (toys you don’t mind seeing on the floor, age appropriate and are safe on the floor for babies).
  3. Choose the toys – choosing toys that are age appropriate, versatile, durable, fun and foster higher order thinking (problem solving, decision making and critical thinking) are ideal to include in the rotation. Some examples are: blocks, soft toys, nesting cups, books, posting boxes, mirrors (safe glass is needed).
  4. Organise toys – There are lots of ways to organise toys but our favourite way is based on themes. Eg. Animals, transport, dramatic, imaginative, construction etc. Our daily play plan is based on a weekly theme which links nicely to how the toys are organised and it makes for easy packing away.
  5. Decide on storage – there are a variety of ways to store toys that fit your space. Our favourites are plastic tubs with lids, flexitubs, cube storage with boxes/baskets and shelves. We currently use three sets of cube storage (one in the common space and the other two in bedrooms) for both storage and rotation. Once you have finalised storage of your choice, place toys in their allotted spot.
  6. Choosing a rotation system – there are a few different ways to rotate toys-cyclic, swap, interest based or random. And the frequency could vary from daily, weekly, fortnightly or even monthly. I suggest trying one way and sticking with it if it works and changing it if necessary.

What works for us at the moment is a cyclic mixed interest based rotation weekly. Our toys are rotated at the beginning of each week. Toy Rotation Systems take time and trial and error to work smoothly. If at first, things aren’t going to plan, take some time to reflect, seek solutions and be persistent whilst recognising the limitations.

‘One of the many keys to play organisation stems from household organisation’.

//DAILY PLANNER//

A daily plan is a fabulous tool to help new mums stay organised particularly in those first few months while adjusting to a new schedule. It is a place to track feeding and sleep patterns, document important details about your baby’s development, milestone achievements and record appointments for both you and baby. And by having a daily plan it helps establish suitable times and activities for play (talking to your baby, making eye contact, cuddles, singing, reading or telling a story).

//DROP BOX//

Hands up if you find yourself running back and forth in your home returning misplaced (aka stray) belongings? If this is you, this idea is just what you need. It is a box in a central spot to place those loose items, eliminating the constant back and forth, until you have the time to return them in one go. This has been a huge organisational success in our home.

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//ZONE CLEANING//

Have you heard of zone cleaning? This is a concept originally seen www.flylady.net. It involves dividing your home into zones for the purpose of cleaning. In the beginning it is encouraged to set a timer for 15 minutes and to de-clutter that one specific zone – in baby steps. Don’t tackle a job that you instinctively know will take longer than 15 minutes to complete. Once that selected zone is de-cluttered, there are set daily missions to complete within that zone. When a zone is completed, the same steps are applied to a new zone. Once all zones have been finished, the focus shifts to maintenance. Sounds like something of interest to you and you are keen to get started http://www.flylady.net/d/getting-started/ 

//MORNING AND AFTERNOON ROUTINES//

Mornings set the tone of the day for us – they either energise us or drain us. Our morning routine came about with the combination of trial and error and inspiration from our favourite authors and bloggers.  And even now, it still doesn’t always go to plan – as that is the nature of life, but the key for success for us has been to keep it simple. We have kept it simple by choosing 5 things to complete each morning (aka Daily 5) because this is what we can manage. The intention was to keep these five tasks the same until they became daily habits and once they were a part of our everyday life, consider introducing new tasks as needed. This concept was inspired from  Leanne over at Organising the Four of Us.  Check out her page to learn so many more handy tips on organisation, particularly Project 14.

Afternoons – work much the same way with daily tasks, however, there are only 3 tasks. This fits in our current afternoon schedule.

//VISUAL TIMETABLE FOR MUM//

Visual timetables are often used in the classroom with young children so they know what is happening and what the expectations are for them throughout the day. Taking on this idea for yourself allows you to see where you are within the day, maintain a routine as best as possible with a baby and to help reduce the feeling of overwhelm when things aren’t achieved (which is to be expected with children). Visual Timetables can be written with pen and paper, typed on a device with an app, or up on a wall in the home for easy viewing…whichever way best meets your needs and will be something you use.

//PACK AWAY ROUTINE FOR MUM & BABY//

Whilst a pack away routine is a handy way to stay organised, particularly as your child moves from the baby stage to toddler stage and as you both embark further into the journey of play, we recommend in the baby stage, starting with the concept of ‘everything has a place’ rather than a set pack away routine. Why? It allows for more time to be spent on playing and completing other mummy duties whilst still role modelling ‘packing away’ and feeling organised. For example, when a play resource such as a cloth book or rattle has finished being used, simply put it back where it belongs.

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‘Excuse the mess we are busy creating memories’

10 PLAY IDEAS FOR YOU AND YOUR BABY

…so now that we are all organised, let’s talk about what activities are suitable for your baby.

  1. TREASURE CHEST – Putting together a themed collection of items that have different textures, colours or shapes is a great way for babies to explore. eg. a basket of shiny objects
  2. SENSORY BOTTLES – Filling plastic bottles with water, glitter, confetti, sequins, hair gel and water mix, oil and water mix, coloured water, grass, sand and dirt can make great sensory bottles for your baby. (We like to use the store bought empty travel size shampoo and conditioner bottles because they are an ideal size and weight).
  3. NESTING BOXES/CUPS – One of the most versatile baby gifts we received were nesting boxes. We have used them to build towers during tummy time, push and pull obejcts, carry objects in them and shake objects in them (later baby stage)…endless minutes of fun. Remember your baby will only play for minutes at a time until they are abit older.
  4. POSTING & DROPPING BOX – Remember the Tupperware Shape O-ball? The red and blue one with yellow shapes? This is a type of posting box and these days they come in a variety of designs – boats, boxes…basically any shape that allows objects to be dropped into them and retrieved to repeat again. This activity is a great one when your baby begins sitting up.
  5. STORYTELLING – Reading books with your child or telling stories is an exciting opportunity to bond with your baby. When telling stories, you may recite some of your favourites from your childhood or retell a popular children’s story. You might use silly voices (babies love this) to represent different characters and create a sense of anticipation. You may even extend this idea and add in some finger and /or hand puppets when telling the story.
  6. MIRROR – Babies simply love looking at their reflections, poking their tongues out and playing peek-a-boo with a mirror. When choosing a mirror make sure it is suitable in design and make for your baby to use.
  7. MUSIC AND SONGS – This activity is perfect for newborns right through to young children at school and perhaps beyond. As a newborn this play can be in the form of cooing, making eye contact, singing and playing music and as your baby moves into the toddler stage it can be in the form of movement to music, singing together and playing with musical instruments.
  8. BUBBLES – This is a simple and easy activity for you and your baby to play with. Making bubbles with a bubble wand, watching them, popping, them and chasing them can create to lots of fun.
  9. TUMMY TIME PAINTING – A great way to introduce painting to babies is through paint in an envelope. Check out this idea at MamaPapaBubba. http://mamapapabubba.com/2016/07/12/tummy-time-painting/
  10. MESSY SPAGHETTI – so we know messy play isn’t every Mums cup of tea – it is messy and time consuming. For those that attempt messy spaghetti, find a time that bests suits you and the family. This play experience is definitely one for outside and in play/housework clothes. 
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…so I know the Mumma Morrison community has some great play ideas and organisational tips to help and inspire their fellow mumma members. I would love to hear about them, please share below. Got any questions, pop them in the comments and I will be back to answer them.

Celebrate Play!!

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If you’d like to chat more with Erin about her passion for play, or would like to join her Facebook Group to get lots more Play ideas and tips, check out her Facebook Group here: //celebrateplay//.

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About Fi Morrison

Fi is a mum to her beautiful, 1-year-old baby boy who she affectionately calls Starfish. She started Mumma Morrison as a way to document her life with her son, but also aims to create a supportive and encouraging community for new and prospective mums. She is returning to part-time teaching in July. Fi and her family live in Sydney.

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