Every good parent needs a bag of tricks or in this case, a cupboard. At times, the reality of life at home with young children can be a bit less like a family dinner on “Leave it to Beaver” and a whole lot more like the introductory scene to the pilot of “Breaking Bad” (think Bryan Cranston frantically running around the desert in only a pair of underwear, a gas mask and a green apron)- complete and utter chaos. How does one get around to cooking dinner, answering an important phone call or simply a restroom break while in the care of young children?
The secret to finding 5 minutes of peace is a Chaos Cupboard. A Chaos Cupboard is a cupboard in your most trafficked room (usually the kitchen) that is stocked with simple and ready-to-use activities. When the day starts to unravel, when screaming is the only sound in your home or when you just need 5 minutes, instead of turning on the TV:
1) Open your Chaos Cupboard
2) Pull out an activity bag
3) Dump the activity in a display bin
4) Tell you children you have something exciting for them to explore
5) Breathe in peace, while your children learn through play
Here is a tour of my Chaos Cupboard. We’d love to hear about what you stash in yours!
View the bottom shelf in the picture above. You will see a row of gallon bags, each with its own activity (I recommend “slider” baggies as children can open and close these with ease). To the right of the baggies, there is a bin for displaying the activities and two other bins with smaller activity options that did not require a large bag.
When madness ensues, I pull a bag from the left side of the shelf and dump it into the red bin and place it at the table for my children to explore. When the children loose interest in the activity, I dump it back into its gallon bag and place it on the right side of the row of bags to ensure a proper rotation.
You may ask, what type of activities are appropriate to offer in the Chaos Cupboard? Select activities that have many parts and pieces that would typically get lost in a toy chest. These types of activities are best used in sets as all the parts relate best to each other. They also usually will only captivate a child’s attention for around 5 to 20 minutes and so they are best used in a rotation system.
Below you will see examples of activities that I include in my Chaos Cupboard.
Five minutes of peace and tranquility can be yours! Chaos cupboards do not need to use up much valued cupboard real estate, nor do they need to bankrupt your spending cash. Sort through the toys, puzzles, games and odds and ins that you already own to create a set of ready-to-go activities, then add to your collection as you go. Using gallon baggies to store the pieces, instead of boxes and individual bins saves on space. Just remember to keep one bin nearby for display. Best of luck!