Things do not make us happy. It’s experiences that make us happy. Going out, exploring the world. Interacting with the world. Doing things. THAT is what makes us happy. The same goes for our kids. We keep giving into their demands for more toys, and think that buying them more toys will keep them entertained and happy, and maybe give us a break. But no, what it does, is burn holes in our pockets, teaches them to value things over people and experiences. Teaches them that they constantly need that next fix or the next toy in order to feel happy. And worse, you then have to not only spend hours assembling the toy, but you then have to spend hours playing with them with this very toy that you thought would give you a break! Worse, they then become very controlling, as they have become so used to getting their own way, that they start telling you what to do, how you must play. What you must do and say so that they can feel a sense of power and control.

Far better it would be, if they could gain a sense of mastery over themselves and develop their own skills, which would give them their own inner sense of control, instead of having the need to feel control through controlling another. It is up to us to set them up with tasks, that will allow them to grow, and gain new skills, and a sense of empowerment and growth.

It is all to easy to fall into the materialistic notion of just buying them another toy to ‘keep them happy’. All this does is clutter your house and your life. Of course it’s nice to have nice things. But that is why it’s better to just have a few quality toys, and just get rid of the rest. Otherwise they become overwhelmed with stuff, and when they start whining and complaining that they are bored, you say ‘how can you bored when you have so many toys to play with.’

Human beings need constant change and stimulation. The only thing that can really provide that is the outside world. Getting out of the house is key to access that stimulation that both adults and kids need to feel stimulated and alive. Being at home with the same toys that a child sees day in and day out simply does not provide them with the kind of stimulation that they need. Even schools have a similar problem. Kids get bored at school because it’s always the same four walls, same place, same people. Yes the subject material might be different. But in my opinion, the best kind of school would be one where the kids are exposed to new experiences every day, with changing places, people and material.

Going to a different museum every day. Seeing different exhibitions. Going to different parks and playing different games there. I think such change is essencial for the child’s mind to expand.

When a child has too much control he feels insecure and unhappy. At the moment, Daniel is telling us what to do and getting his own way all the time. Whether it be with food, telling us what he will and will not eat, with what we do – from the second he wakes up, telling us we have to play with him. Saying he wants to stay at home. Saying that we mustn’t talk to each other, only to him. At the end of the day, he needs to know that we are the boss, not him, and we need to direct his day, not him. 

What has led to this is that we have always been scared for him to cry. You read all these books that say letting them get distressed is bad for them because then the brain gets wired for cortisol which primes them for stress later in life. But just crying a bit is very different to getting distressed. We must not be scared to let them cry. That was the first piece of advice that our cousin Martin gave us. His kids are the loveliest sweetest most well behaved kids I have ever come across. He said that the hardest part of being a parent is holding your child while they cry and not giving into them. Munchkin was only 6 months old and he said if we haven’t started disciplining already at 6 months old it’s already too late. These religious people know something that we don’t. They have so many kids that no one kid can be spoilt. They have to learn to fit in, and there is no way that one child can have all the control and power because they just have to fit into the hierarchy. 

We are giving Dani the best of everything. And giving him full control over everything. Doing everything for him. Even dressing and undressing him, brushing his teeth. Giving into his food whims. Doing what he wants all the time. Giving into him when he cries. Giving him no schedule or structure. Because we are displaying no control over his life, he feels like he needs to take control. And this is where the problems starts.

We need to provide him with routine and structure. He needs to start dressing and undressing himself. For the day he must have some sort of activity that we plan. He is feeling insecure because he has no structure or routine and has no idea what is coming next, and he has way too much power and control. He will only feel safe if we manage his day for him, while giving him some control and independence where he dresses himself. He also needs a consistent routine at night that includes and bath and story and consistent predictable bedtime. Their day needs to be so full and busy that they should literally fall into bed from exhaustion at the end of it.

Present Play is all about children being engaged in play and meeting their 4 basic play needs. There are 4 basic tenets to Present Play. Each of these requires it’s own space in the home, in order to promote the desired activity.

1. Messy Zone

This should be a zone where the kids can make as much mess as they like. This is a place for them to express themselves creatively though art, which includes painting, sticking with glue, play doh, crayons… Anything that is messy and allows them to express themselves creatively.

2. Movement Zone

This should be a safe area in the home with lots of padding so they can’t hurt themselves, yet are encouraged to run around and do gymnastics or yoga, or swinging… anything that allows them to burn off physical energy and move.

3. Calm and Relaxing Zone

This is a place for them to wind down, read a book, chill out, and be calm. They could sit here and listen to audio books, or engage in calm quiet play. Soft lighting, tents, cushions etc are good here to promote relaxation.

4. Play Zone

The Play Zone should be organised, accessible – easy for little ones to access (Montessori style), only contain toys that are beautiful, good quality, well made, durable, open ended (which means they can use their imagination to create fantasy worlds with them) and pleasing to the eye.

Stay posted for recommended toys and products for each area.

Top 5 Dolls Houses I highly Recommend

Dolls houses are a great open ended toys. They provide for hours and hours of role play, different scenarios, and my son absolutely loves his. There are so many gorgeous looking stylish ones to buy, I am dedicating a whole post to dolls houses here to give you some guidance in the dolls house buying process.

1. Ferm Living Kids Wooden Dolls House

This is a really great very open ended wooden dolls house. The Ferm Living Kids wooden dolls house is great in that you can drill it to the wall, so it doesn’t clutter the floor, and your child can stand up and it can be set to be the perfect height for them. This particular dolls house is great in that it is neutral, pleasing to the eye, and as it’s got not set rooms with any particular colours the imagination can run wild, and it can be imagined into anything the child likes. Also, as it’s such a blank canvas,the child can also get hours of entertainment from decorating it themselves, putting their own creations in as wallpaper, and can change the rooms as they please with any dolls furniture they have, and different characters. I would highly recommend this wooden dolls house as a great tool for present play, as it so neutral, and gives the child full freedom to do whatever they like with it, and provides endless possibilities of potential scenarios. I am a member of Present Players, and Avital, who highly recommends a dolls house that is very similar to this one as a great open ended dolls house, and it’s the one that her kids use. You can buy the Ferm Living Kids Wooden Dolls House here at Smallable It also comes in a smaller and cheaper version here

2. Djeco Cubic Dolls House

I absolutely adore Djeco Toys. They are so artistic, beautiful, and just pure art, plus they are sturdy, tend to be wooden, and are such great toys for kids. I highly recommend checking out djeco Toys, especially their wooden puzzles. This is why I am pleased to come across this gorgeous Djeco Dolls house. The Djeco Cubic Dolls House reminds me of something out of the 1970s. It has got to be the most stylish of dolls house I have ever come across… – I am in love with it! True that there it is less open ended than the Ferm living kids dolls house, but if you are looking for a dolls house that is less neutral, has a beautiful design and has all the furniture and decor, I would definately consider going for this Djeco cublic dolls house. Plus it is also cheaper than the Ferm Dolls house. It’s gorgeous, will look great in your home, and is sure to provide hours of entertainment. I love all the furniture. Its a miniature version of what you would want your home to look like!

3. Djeco Color Dolls House

The Djeco Color Dolls house is another great designer dolls house. In the style of a more traditional house, it’s more traditional, but still beautiful, with great furniture. The Djeco Color dolls house is also absolutely adorable, and although slightly cheaper than the previous, just as nice. I would have trouble choosing which one to get as they ar both incredibly gorgeous. I think the Djeco cubic dolls house is for modern tastes though. and the Djeco Color Dolls house is less architecturally simple. Both are great though. Buy through Smallable

You can even buy this Djeco Kitchen separately, and mix and match, and use it in the Ferm Living Dolls house.

4. Encore! Large Furnished Dolls House

I am totally in love with this Encore! Large furnished dolls house. It is so well made, so beautiful, so quaint, and really epitomises wonderful, simple Danish design. This house epitomises the term hygge. It’s stylish, simple, durable, and so unbelievably cute! The wood in this dolls house is sourced from an ecological forest, and the lamp attached to the roof with a magnet. I can see this prividing hours of fun. I think this is definately one of my favourites. What is so great about the Encore! Dolls house is that you can add to it over time with the modular rooms. The furniture is so beautiful and of such high quality too. See the pictures below. Buy through Smallable.

5. The Manhattan Toy Company Dolls House

This dolls house by The Manhattan Toy Company is a really great open ended play dolls house, because it is a combination of dolls house and building blocks, combined into one. I would call it an abstract dolls house, as the blocks are more representative, rather than accurate. But this is what makes it so great for present pay, It can be imagined into so many different things. As it comes with many different shaped blocks, that can be constructed into a dolls house, in so many different ways and formats, it, provides endless possibilities of ways of construction. Sure to provide hours of immersive, present play. A great buy, especially for the younger ones. Buy through Smallable.

 

Want to Love your Child more?

A major insight I had last night was: the more you give to your child, the more you love them. And if you feel more love towards them, and they feel more loved, you both feel happier. I remember hearing once: ‘you love those that you give to’. That is why in our religion, Judaism, they say the best thing you can do in a marriage to make it work, is to give to your partner. The more you give to them, the more you will love them. It is the same with your child. Lately, I have been slacking a lot as a mother. Feeling run down and tired with an on and off cold, I’m also pregnant. I have lazed about at home while my husband did all the work (he works from home) and he has been taking my son to and from nursery, then taking him out after. He did this both because I needed the rest, and also the headmistress thought it would be better for him to settle our son into nursery rather than me (as he’s more attached to me). I only saw our son much later in the day – around 4 or 5. And when I did see him, I found him to be a bit of a nuisance, and had far less patience with him that I used to have, and just less good feelings towards him. In fact I lost my temper with him on a few occasions, which I had never done before, and felt extremely uptight around him.

He kept saying ‘I just want Mummy to be happy.’ Clearly he was sensing this. He started getting very emotional and upset, and was stressing about nursery school and saying he wants me to take him to nursery school and stay with him. So yesterday I got up early and I took him. I stayed with him in the class for 45 mins and spoke to the teachers about my concerns. I waited there the whole time and brought him back and then I took out him out to Maggie and Rose. I cannot tell you what a difference this made to my bond with him, my good feelings towards him, my happiness, and his happiness. We were both so relaxed, felt so much closer and connected, and had so much fun together. He was like a different child. Whereas before he was very upset, emotional, and anxious for me to be happy, and going out of his way to get on my nerves (probably as he so desperately craved my attention) he was now so sweet, loving, easy going and fun to be with. What a difference!

The moral of the story? If you want to love your child, enjoy their company and have a great time with them, then you have to give to them by spending time with them, doing things for them, taking their feelings seriously and sorting out things that are bothering them, taking them to do fun things, showing them a good time, and being there for them emotionally and physically. This cannot be passed onto a nanny or husband, or someone else because as a result you will sacrifice your bond and close connection with them, – and above all, feelings of love towards them. It is a known fact that the more we give, the more we get. The profound truth here is that there is no better feeling than that of loving another, and that is the gift that we get by giving – feeling love.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is our happiness. Because if we are happy, we are nicer and more giving to them, which makes them happy. So the key is to figure out what makes us happy, and then practise it every single day. In my case, it seems to be getting up early, ready before my son wakes up, and taking him out. Mixing and talking to other adults, such as teachers and Mums at nursery school or activities, and being stimulated and active. Then doing fun things with my son and keeping busy and out of the house. My happiness puts me in a good mood, which makes me treat him with kindness and respect, which makes him feel good, secure and happy. When us Mums are not happy, it makes our kids feel very insecure. Our feelings also rub off onto them.

Human being are not isolated creatures. We are all intertwined, we exchange energy, our energies mesh and like atom osmosis, they become one. If I am unhappy and am exuding that energy, it will infiltrate his energy, and as a result he will become unhappy. He will then act out which will make us even more unhappy. If you give, and do things to try and make the other happy, you will feel more love and positive feelings towards that person. We naturally love those that we give to and look after. That is why the love a mother feels towards her baby is more powerful than any other kind of love. Because we give more to our baby than to anyone else in the world. We need to keep that up as our kids grow in order to maintain that close bond of love and affection. This in turn gives them confidence and makes them feel secure and loved. It is easy to fall into the trap that as they become more independent to feel like we can give to them less, and pull back a bit, but no, the giving must never end if you want to maintain that strong bond of love and affection.

This video by Rabbi Twerski sums up my point exactly – when you give to another, you invest yourself in them, which naturally makes you love them more.

 

Meet my gorgeous son Daniel. He is 3 and will be the star of the show. He will be showing you how to best play with many of the gorgeous toys that we will be exhibiting and recommending. This blog is all about designing and curating beautiful play spaces and areas within the home that spark and ignite creativity, imagination, and inspire independent play. (Which is of course what we want!) Through designing beautiful and engaging play spaces, with gorgeous toys in them we are setting the child up to explore, spend time in, and relish their time spent in immersive independent play. I will be recommending the best products to help you do this, and will also include research that backs up the notion that play is the most crucial thing a child can do with their time, in terms of developing the skills necessary to thrive and grow into happy, creative, problem solving, self motivating, well rounded adults.