Saturday, March 5, 2016

Baby Jail

I will start out by first admitting that we have been blessed with a huge house! We've got five bedrooms and 3200 square feet. There is a lot of open space downstairs and we've got a huge playroom upstairs. We are lucky!! Very lucky!

Baby Jail 1, on the left in the photo above, is tucked in the corner of our living room. It's up against a pony wall. On the other side of the wall is Baby Jail 2. It's next to my "office" area where I do my freelancing.

The baby jails are large. We certainly don't "need" two of them. But Miss Star is determined to get into trouble almost 24/7. She loves to leave the living room and try to go up the stairs or mess with things she's not supposed to (things like electrical cords and fun stuff like that). That's why I ended up moving Baby Jail 1 into the living room. Sometimes in the evening I just want to relax. And I didn't like having the babies in the jail away from us while we watched TV and whatnot. Due to our schedules, I freelance mainly when the babies are asleep now, so it made sense to move jail into the living room.

I decided to buy Baby Jail 2 for a couple reasons. One reason is because we have the room and I knew it would be nice to have a jail next to my office and one in the living room. The biggest reason I bought jail #2 though is that Russell is rough with Star – very rough! He doesn't mean to be. And it's nothing I can really discipline. But he bites her. And he hits her. And he tackles her and makes her fall down. I have to answer for every single injury and I simply can't take chances. There are times when I can't watch the children 100% of the time. Russell bites out of nowhere...even when I am watching. So I worry even more if I'm not in the room directly with them. Plus, I still need to do things like laundry, fix dinner, or even just take a shower. Having a baby-proofed separate space for each kid was necessary. Star no longer enjoys being in a bouncer. She wants to move around. Baby Jail made the most sense.

Baby Jail 1 - in the living room
Baby Jail 2 - on the office side

How I Organize the Toys

Developmentally, Russell is still very much an infant. He doesn't pretend anything. He doesn't even push cars around. When Russell plays, he takes toys out of containers and puts toys back in containers. He shakes and bangs things together. And he throws. He chews on everything.

Russell needs infant toys. (Star does too. But she's developing normally. I'm going to focus on Russell's needs as I describe how I organize the toys. Of course, everything applies to Star as well.) I have musical instruments, blocks, cars and other vehicles to push, shape sorters, and ball drops. He also has a huge selection of rattles and chew toys.

Russell gets bored rather quickly. He can't help it. There's only so much to figure out when all he does is dump toys out and shake them a few times. It doesn't make sense for me to buy him "bigger kid" toys though. He doesn't know what to do with them. When Russell gets bored, he throws even more. He also starts "stimming" by rocking back and forth and humming loudly. One solution to his boredom is to offer him a new selection of toys regularly. I try to switch up his toys where he's playing 1-2 times a day (depending on how long he's playing in jail...he certainly doesn't stay in jail all day). In order to make this process easier, I bought some baskets.

Each basket has a different assortment of toys inside. There are things to push, things to bang that make noise, and things to chew on. Having the open baskets that stack make it super easy to swap toys out. I simply grab everything in the jail and put it in the basket. Then I put a new basket in jail for the child. All the baskets live outside Baby Jail 2. (Again, we've been blessed with a lot of room. I know that and appreciate that!)

Rotating toys is such a wonderful thing to do for any age kid! In fact, I miss having a basement. When TT and Bart were younger, I swapped the toys out in our playroom a couple different times a year. When we moved here though, that wasn't possible as I don't have storage room and all the toys fit in our playroom. Doing it on a smaller level like this with the infant toys has been wonderful though! It keeps the babies entertained longer and that makes everyone happier.

The only thing to note is a skill that Russell learned just last night. Apparently it is no longer safe to leave the large basket in jail with Russell. He figured out how to turn it upside down and was almost able to completely break out of jail in a matter of minutes. Russell is no dummy! So as much as he plays with the baskets by putting toys in and taking them out, he doesn't get to do that part anymore unless I'm directly in the room with him.

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