Yesterday started out to be a very rainy day here in Northern Virginia. When you are a kid, nothing is quite worse than not being able to go outside to play. Especially during the warmer weather months, when my kids are used to playing outside pretty much everyday, it can be hard to keep them entertained indoors and still keep the TV turned off. In order to beat these rainy day blues and help this mom stay sane, I started a surprize cabinet.
This is basically a cabinet in the basement where I have a secret stash of prizes. These are items that I have picked up at the dollar store or on deep discount clearance and put away. These are also items that my kids have received either for Christmas or their birthday that I am able to put away as well. I know that sounds a little "mommie dearest", but three of my kids have birthday's in January and we have a pretty big family. My children are very good about donating toys, and participating in service projects on their own and through school & church (my five year old currently has a coin box that she is saving to send to Malawi through her Vacation Bible School Mission Project and once a year my son picks out some items to take to the Peds floor at a local hospital where he was a patient a few summers back) but we still seem to have a surplus. This is great for rainy days when you need something "to do". It also works out better for us, instead of giving the twins 20 new toys at once (I am exaggerating here!), just to give them a few presents that they will actually play with. Also, it is excellent for those last minute birthday party gifts - this way you don't have to stop at Target on the way to the party and wrap in the car! (come on, we have all done that!).
Currently in my cabinet, I have coloring books, story books, a train, a small Lego kit, puzzles, games and stickers. Yesterday afternoon I was able to pull out a set of matchbox cars and a barbie doll set. It kept all four kids entertained and I was able to cook dinner in peace. My five year old is currently playing with the car set now. My oldest helped her construct ramps out of wooden blocks and all of the kids had fun with this!
There are other variations on this idea that I know work as well. A friend of mine as a Prize Closet. Pretty much the same principals as mine, but she doles out toys and tokens on a reward system. When my oldest was a toddler I had a mystery box. Basically a plastic shoe box that I would fill with coloring stuff and small trinkets. This was a box that I would pull out when I needed to make a phone call or even use the restroom and have him occupied for a few minutes! I would constantly rotate the items out so the contents were always a mystery!
Enjoy your weekend!