Any parent (especially those with small children) can appreciate inexpensive ways to make parenting young children easier, simpler and more fun for everyone. Click through for ten tools for under $10 that will make your job as a parent easier AND read up on IKEA’s Play Report – a comprehensive study commissioned by IKEA to learn about kids and play.
I don’t know about yours, but our kids are ALWAYS hungry. We’ve worked hard to eliminate processed foods from our diets for healthier living, and while it’s SO worthwhile, it can make simple snacks difficult. Here are a few kitchen accessories that will make snacks fun and fast to put on the table for your little ones:
Apple Corer or Slicer
This simple kitchen gadget has made quick fruit snacks a breeze. Works equally well on pears as apples to remove the seeded core and leave kid sized wedges of fruit – perfect for eating out of hand or dipping in some healthy nut butter. SPRITTA apple corer / slicer ($3.99)
When lunch gets boring, a simple change of presentation can go a long way to making it fun and getting kids to eat a variety of foods. Parcel out finger foods into muffin cups and present each child with their own muffin tin to snack from. Simple, but effective! IKEA DRÖMMAR muffin tin ($9.99)
Want your kids to learn responsibility and take initiative? Make it easy for them to participate in daily activities by providing kid-safe dishes in a location where they can access them to help set the table and empty the dishwasher. Our kids have their own 12″ pull-out pantry in which they keep their dishes, cups and bowls. Plasticware, like the KALAS ($1.99/6-pack) line makes it easy when kids are little – no breakage.
According to IKEA, children have an average of 500 toys – that’s a lot of stuff! Every item in the children’s storage line, KUSINER is less than $10 and worth a look for sorting, storing and organizing kids toys, crafts and stuffed animals. KUSINER
Anything that gets stuff up off the floor is a winner in my book. We have several of these hanging storage solutions that hold everything from stuffed animals to clothing – they come in a multitude of colors and at less than $5 a piece, these are very affordable solutions. IKEA PS FÅNGST hanging storage ($4.99)
Kid-sized storage containers are terrific for encouraging kids to help clean up. There are the systems like TROFAST and the new STUVA, but for inexpensive, effective kid’s storage and organization solutions, you can’t beat the new DIMPA sorting bags. Intended for use as waste-sorting bags for recycling, these handled bags are the perfect size for small children to use in helping with pickup.
VESSLA is another great storage solution for kids’ stuff. These plastic translucent boxes can be color-coded for each child’s belongings or for types of stuff – sports storage, lego block storage, etc. Casters on the bottom make it easy for kids to roll them in and out for play, and the coordinating lids make them stackable as well. VESSLA storage boxes on casters ($5.99) with lid ($1.50).
Clean-up Tip: Have kids help clean up by doing a ‘room zoom.’ Put on some fun music and set a timer for 2-5 minutes (depending on the kids’ ages). Have them zoom around and put as many toys in their bags as possible within the timeframe. Have them compete against their own best score rather than against each other to avoid fights.
Corralling Arts and Crafts
If you have a prolific craft producer like we do, you’ll be wondering where to put all the arts and crafts that are generated. Aside from magnets on the refrigerator, what do you do with it all? (Really, I want to know!) I’ve come up with a few solutions that work for us, but seriously…I’d LOVE to hear what you’ve found works.
Often we return home with little bits and pieces of our adventures – the tiny, tiny pinecone picked up on a trail, the seashells found on the beach, the piece of bark that looks like a turtle. I stumbled across using the GRUNDTAL magnetic spice tins to contain the physical manifestations of our fondest memories and it’s turned out to be a great solution! These tins can be slapped on the side of the fridge, or for a little more money you can pick up a magnetic rail to attach them to. Either way – it’s a fantastic way of keeping small items from getting scattered all over the house. GRUNDTAL Spice Tins ($4.99 3-pack)
Need to dry a lot of paintings? Or need a place to keep a number of masterpieces? Try out the cute PRESSA drying hanger. It’s intended for drying your delicates, but it can be used rather effectively for hanging kids’ artwork in small spaces. Our daughter has several hanging from the underside of her TROMSO loft bed.
Craft Tip: Have kids help to sort out broken crayons and sort like colors into cups. Float washed tuna cans in a bath of simmering water (adult supervision required!) and melt the broken crayons. Pour into tubular ice trays to create new crayons out of old. Talk about recycling!
Most parents these days use methods like natural consequences or time-out for discipline of youngsters. Have the tools ready to make helping kids learn appropriate behavior and it will reduce your stress significantly.
Whether you practice time-outs or you just want to keep track of television time or baths, a timer is an essential parenting tool. IKEA’s STAM timer is colorful, and inexpensive enough that you could have a few around the house – one for upstairs, one for down or keep one for each child. ($1.99)
Time-out is a very effective discipline method for small kids, but you need to have a designated location for it. Use a kid-sized chair or stool that can be easily placed wherever you need it for on-the-spot discipline. Check out the LEKSVIK stool for dual-purpose seating / stepstool ($9.99).
Discipline Tip: We found that offering choices gave our young children a sense of power and control that eliminated a lot of control-based fights when they were young. If your kid is resistant to wearing shoes, for instance, instead of just saying “Put your shoes on,” offer a choice by saying, “It’s time to put on shoes. Would you like to wear the red or the blue?” It’s amazing the difference a choice can make!
What are your best parenting tips and tools?
IKEA Play Report
In 2010, IKEA initiated the largest study of ‘parenting, children and the state of play,’ ever conducted to learn more about kids and play. The result is the PlayReport which is based on the survey of 10,000 people (7500 adults and 2500 children aged 7-12) across 25 markets.
Among the results, IKEA found:
- Children overwhelmingly prefer playing with their friends and parents over watching TV.
- Nearly half of parents thing play should be educational, but children disagree.
- Parents are too stressed to play.
- A majority of parents want more creativity at home for their children but don’t know how.
- Not all parents want their children to be happy as a first wish.
Read more of the Playreport in the full .pdf.
IKEA Play Ground
See also the new IKEA Children’s focused section on the IKEA website: IKEA Play Ground