MLK Jr Smiling When my kiddos were really young, they attributed his serious face as someone who was “mean.” I had to explain that he was serious and passionate about the topic at hand. I think this is a great photo to show your children. It’s just so beautiful!
Books: Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., National Geographic Readers: Martin Luther King, Jr. (Readers Bios), I am Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ordinary People Change the World), I Have a Dream and so much more!
In a world that is so fast-paced, we need to let our children become bored from time to time! Boredom actually allows the brain to recover from the overstimulated world that we live in.
So many parents think that it’s their responsibility to fill every moment of their child’s time with activities, extracurriculars or screens. We all know how it feels to see the moms on social media doing ALL the things— crafts, field trips, baking, sports, dance and so on. I’ve been there finding myself wondering, “am I doing enough?” And that’s one of the best parts about embracing and encouraging this unstructured time— no more guilt! We can let that go because boredom is actually GOOD for them!
Being bored teaches us that life isn’t all rainbows and fireworks because as adults, we all know know that IT IS NOT.
Unstructured down time encourages creativity, independent thinking, and problem solving skills. Allowing that open ended time gives our children the opportunity to explore their inner selves and the world around them, diving deep into their interests and discovering their unique skills and passions! We aren’t nurturing them by giving them a toy that makes all of the noise for them or plopping them in front of the TV OR keeping them so busy that they don’t get to spend any time with themselves.
When a child is bored, it allows their minds to wander. As stated above, it’s not our jobs to entertain our kids but rather give them tools to be imaginative and creative. If we spend our time filling up our children’s spare time, they’ll never learn to do it for themselves. Boredom is good for the brain!
“I think it’s necessary to let kids get bored once in a while— that’s how they learn to be creative.” – Kim Raver
I’m cheap. I love a good deal. I hate spending a ton of money if I don’t have to. If you’re like me, keep reading… Here’s what I do to afford our wooden toys—
Sell things you no longer want or need.
I often sell random things around the house to fund the toys we want. I’ve been on a semi-minimalist journey for a few years now and it feels so good to get rid of clutter and unused toys from around the house. In return, we can afford those special pieces we’ve been wanting. Utilize Facebook marketplace, BST (buy sell trade) pages, Craigslist, Poshmark, Mercari, whatever works best for you. Another thing to note is that these toys hold their value. Most of the time, if you sell in the right place, you can get back what you paid if not more depending on the item.
*If you’re new to Mercari, here’s a discount for you: click here!
Shop second hand.
As stated above, wooden toys really hold their value so it’s not often that you can get a huge steal, but it happens from time to time. Keep your eyes out on all of the pages mentioned above and you just might find a needle in the haystack! This has happened with us several times so be persistent, it does happen!
You don’t need the name brands when it comes to wooden toys. Wooden blocks are wooden blocks and they’re amazing either way! And sometimes, you do find the sought after brands. I come from a small town and I remember thinking “eh, I’ll never find anything like that here” but I was so wrong! One time I found a small set of blocks with different rainbow shakers inside of them and when I looked them up, they were worth over $55 and I got them for $1.49. I’m not trying to sit here and brag about my finds, I’m simply stating that it makes it THAT much more rewarding and exciting when you do happen upon something. Again, keep your eyes out at all times.
You don’t need to be super crafty to do some of these things!
Make some peg dolls, they’re super easy and can be purchased for a very fair price. Add some paint and wa-la! I made these rainbow peg dolls for my youngest daughter as a first try and they were really fun. I’m excited to make more and get even more detailed!
Things like these would also be super easy to make too! Volcanoes, houses, wooden rings (purchase here) etc. (pictures below are not mine, used for reference).
Make a list give it out on special occasions.
Many of us know what it’s like to hear “what does little Benny want for his birthday?” And then panic sets in because you can’t think of anything in that moment. If you don’t have present family/friends in your life, the above options are very effective! However if you do, I encourage you to keep an ongoing list of “wants” available for times like these! You could even ask that loved ones go in on a gift together because some can be quite expensive! Encourage them to keep their eyes out for certain things throughout the year because the more people searching for you, the better!
Don’t know what the wooden toy hype is all about? I break it all down for you here!
Those are my tips on how to acquire wooden toys on a budget! Do you have anything to add? Please leave your ideas down in the comments!
First I want to start off by saying— The influencers that speak about wooden toys like it ain’t no thaaang to acquire them, are speaking from a place of privilege. To most people, the price points are quite shocking. I’ve been there. Like why on earth are we out here buying $100+ rainbows?! There’s so much more to it, so let me explain.
Quality over quantity.
Yes, that price at first is like *mini heart attack* however, most people investing in wooden toys know that it’s because they want quality goods. I know what you’re thinking, who doesn’t? Many people will choose to buy ONE big set of wooden building blocks vs five plastic-flashy-noisy-toys. The plastic-flashy-noisy toys will not last as long because there are way more moving parts, pieces, lights, etc. that can break or malfunction. (I’d love to touch more on the value of open ended play later on if you’re interested).
They’re open ended.
Oskars Wooden Ark does a good job at describing what opened ended play is- Open-ended play can be described as play that has no pre-determined limitations and no fixed answer – children simply follow their imagination to allow the play to go in any direction their creativity takes them. As there are no set outcomes, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ with open-ended play. Read more here.
Many plastic-flashy-noisy toys do not allow for this as they do the thinking for the child. For example, a toy truck that makes noises and flashes its lights, does not allow for the child to think for themselves by making the “beep beep” or “vroom” noises or simply imagining the lights. The imagination doesn’t have to work quite as hard. Working our children’s imagination is IMPORTANT because play, IS a child’s work. Wooden blocks are one of the best things you can purchase for your child. The possibilities are endless.
Better for the environment.
For a lot of people, the environmental factor is a huge reason they choose the wooden route. It seems like just more recently I’ve noticed a lot of anti-plastic movements and it’s great. I love that for the environment. Do we personally own plastic toys? Here and there, yes, but we are more conscious of it and I think it’s something everyone should be aware of.
Plastic toys account for 90% of the toy market. On average, the plastic toys are only played with for 6 months. Plastic toys have a shorter lifespan and they’re rarely recycled. It’s not often that a toy actually qualifies for recycling because they’re frequently made with other metals. You know what that means… they find themselves in a landfill. In 2014 Americans generated 33 million tons of plastic. We’ve got to do better.
Healthier for your family.
The health effects of the chemicals used in plastic toys are not fully known. One common chemical used is phthalates. Phthalates are known to cause birth defects and cancer. And don’t get me started on the toys made overseas. Those are even less regulated and many have been shown to contain lead, yes lead! Children are of course at higher risk of being exposed to these chemicals because toys commonly make their way to the mouth.
Fund a neighbor, not a large corporation
Many wooden toys can be purchased from small shops, Etsy, craft shows, local co ops, thrifted etc. I’m sure you’d agree that you’d like your money to go into a neighbor’s pocket rather than one of a big corporation’s overflowing money bags.
*Please don’t be shy about asking seller’s if they’re CPSC compliant. In 2008 Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) – this act states that all manufacturers must pay a qualified lab to test and certify any product intended for children (otherwise known as a “third party test”) and label all relevant products accurately in case of a recall. Read more here.
Can be used as heirloom toys.
Wooden toys last! Heirloom toys are toys that can be passed down from generation to generation and they function just as wonderfully as they did in the past. They’re used as a special keepsake to be given to grandchildren one day!
Cult Facebook pages, not necessary, not recommended.
Don’t join the cult-like Facebook groups unless you’ve got a seriously strong willpower to resist the social pressure and pandemonium. I’ve joined a couple myself and people go CRAZY over new releases, buying and reselling, having the newest and most sought after pieces. I’m not kidding, people are in there forking over thousands of dollars. DON’T DO IT.
So as you can see, purchasing/acquiring wooden toys is done for many different reasons, all of which are pretty good if you ask me. If you’re wondering how you can buy wooden toys on a tight budget, click here!
Also coming soon- popular and loved wooden toy brands, our favorites and more! If Amazon is more your speed, click here to explore some of the toys we adore!
I posted this photo recently to my Instagram and had my lovely followers try to guess where I was. I got a lot of responses saying “chiropractor, acupuncture, massage” and so on. They were all great guesses but no one got the correct answer. I was at my physical therapist’s office. What do I see a physical therapist for? *Drumroll*…. MY LADY BITS. Say what?! I know. I never knew it was a thing until I was given a referral by my gynecologist. I have a pelvic floor dysfunction and I haven’t really spoken out about it, which as most of you know, is rare for me because I’m quite an open book. I wasn’t comfortable addressing it because I was NOT in a good place as I didn’t even want to think about it. I’m doing SO much better so I want to share a little about my story. Before I do, what is a pelvic floor dysfunction you might ask? You can read about it here. Thankfully, my symptoms dont include incontinence or anything severe like that, I was just plain uncomfortable (spasms, achey, back pain) and knew something was off.
I first noticed something didn’t feel quite right after I had my first daughter in 2015. I had a kind of achey pressure that’s hard to explain. I think a lot of the issues I have even until this day have to do with the fact that I did NOT take care of myself after giving birth. When my daughter was born, she was immediately transported to the NICU and I demanded they let me go meet her there. I was discharged almost right away to head to the NICU and I really didn’t allow myself any time to heal.
After we had all finally settled in at home (thank the Lord) I kept noticing this really uncomfortable nagging feeling and I took a mirror down there far too soon! I remember FaceTiming my mom BAWLING (thanks postpartum hormones) because what I saw was not the beautiful flower I had remembered (HA!) I had a LONG labor with my daughter and it clearly did a number on me.
So, me being me, I made an appointment with my gynecologist right away and was like “PLEASE tell me things will get better!” She kind of laughed at me after my evaluation (I’m sure she’s seen it all) and nonchalantly said, “you’ve got a prolapse.” A prolapse is when things such as your bladder, rectum, uterus etc shift out of place. She then told me that if I really wanted to, I could see a physical therapist. I said YES because my initial reaction to the news was OMG my insides are falling out!! Little did I know, all women have some degree of prolapse after giving birth and it can take up to a year for things to go back into place. I didn’t know that at the time so I was a kind of a mess.
The physical therapist I saw did everything wrong. She had me do this weird thing where I inserted a wand attached to a handheld device into, well you know where and I was prompted to “kegel” and then it would rate my strength (who knew?!) She said my tone was good yet she kept having me do strength exercises anyways. I was in SO much pain and it was making things worse! I became super depressed and cried all the time because I was uncomfortable every single day.
Sex hurt, going to bathroom didn’t feel right, my nether regions ached every single evening and it straight up hurt if I was on my feet for too long. I decided to seek out other opinions because I was so unbelievably uncomfortable. I saw a urogynecologost who told little 20 year old me that I needed a hysterectomy (that’s a whole other story) and then I went to Mayo Clinic who told me “you’re fine, keep up with PT and come back for surgery if you want it.” All of the information they gave me was conflicting with the others and I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I quit PT because it was making things so much worse and I told my husband, “that’s it, we are having a second baby so I can have surgery and be done with this already.” This was obviously out of desperation and lack of proper education and resources. All I knew was that I wanted at least one more child so I felt the pressure of “now or never!”
We did indeed have a second child shortly after and I actually felt okay after having her. The achey feeling was still there on strenuous days but it didn’t seem to bother me as much as it did after I had my first baby. It still was irritating at times so I picked back up with physical therapy but with a different trainer. She was great but I ended up getting pregnant with baby #3 shortly after starting back so I didn’t really get to see true results. I should’ve kept going because my pregnancy was soooooo hard. I had symphis pubis dysfunction which caused such excruciating pain in the front of my pubic region that I couldn’t walk at times. I knew this was going to be our last little lovie.
Of course with each pregnancy a woman’s body takes another hit. I wanted to keep up with things because I did not want anything getting worse. I started seeing my amazing physical therapist again and it turned out that I had the opposite problem from what my first PT thought. The first woman had me working on strength exercises when I really needed to train my pelvic floor to RELAX. Your vagina is a muscle, and mine was TOO tense. Yes, that’s a thing, ha! It was actually causing extremely painful spasms. I have had great success in the relief of my symptoms with physical therapy.
I wanted to share my experiences with this and while this post only touches on a small part of my story, it’s opening up the window for more discussion. I felt so alone because when I was researching this condition after first finding out what was going on, it was extremely difficult to find information on the topic and especially in women my age. It was all very negative, isolating and depressing.
There are several things I’ve learned and I’d like to share them if you’re interested. Prolapses/pelvic floor dysfunctions can happen to women of any age whether you’ve had children or not. There are breathing techniques, exercises and most importantly hope surrounding this topic. I don’t want anyone to feel as alone as I did in dealing with this.
Sometimes it can be so hard to get children to drink water. I think it’s safe to say that most kids lean towards the sugary drinks if given the option, but that’s not a very healthy habit to form. Things like juice or some chocolate cashew milk (my children’s fave) is fine here and there but what about the water?! Here are some fun ideas to get them drinking that H2O.
Make it a game.Sometimes we all sit down at the table and have a chugging contest to see who can drink their water the fastest. My kids are really competitive with odd things like this so they are always excited when they “win”!
Add fruit. Adding fruit whether it be lemons or strawberries makes it so much yummier! These stainless steel tea infusers are fun for the kids to dangle in their own cups. There are also water bottles that have infusers built in like this one. OR- just toss the chunks in.
Offer a reward. Sometimes a chocolate chip goes a long way. “Finish that water and I’ll sneak you a choco-chip”—Works like a charm.
Have them eat ice chips. I don’t know what it is about ice, but my kids could munch on ice chips all day. If you don’t have a built in ice maker, these portable ice makers are pretty cool!
Add a dash of juice. I know we try to avoid the sugar but if it gets them to drink a whole glass of 99.9% water, the trade-off is worth it in my book. My kids love when I add a dash of apple juice.
Put it in a fun cup. Sometimes putting water it in a water bottle or fancy glass makes it more fun to drink! My kids seem to carry it around with them and sip on it all day.
Set a good example. Sometimes I exaggerate when I’m drinking water like, “MMM, this water is SOOOO good. I just love water. Water is the best.” It becomes a bit more appealing because they seem to want whatever I have these days.
Explain to them why our body needs it. I have one kid who needs to know ALL the whys! Often times, if I just give her the reminder that our bodies need it to function, that’s enough. Disclaimer- This will likely not work on feral children. I know this from experience.
Give them a straw. Straws just make things easier to drink, am I right? Even I find it easier to drink when I have a straw. We love these stainless steel ones!
Make popsicles. Freeze water with chunks of fruit in a popsicle mold. These are the best to hand your kids when they’re outside playing. These molds work so well, and there are even baby sized ones!!
I hope you’re able to try out some of these ideas and best of luck to you my friends!