Tots and Toys

One day when I grew tired of telling my children to pick up their toys and getting no response, I decided to borrow an idea from our church nursery. First I emptied one large, low shelf and one large, high shelf in our hall closet. Then, with the help of my two- and three-year-old boys, I sorted out all the toys that had small pieces and put the pieces to each toy in separate containers. We used milk cartons, cloth bags, and shoe boxes. All the containers were labeled and placed on the low shelf.

Then I explained the new rules to the boys:

1. Before you can get a toy out of the closet in the morning, your bed must be made and your pajamas put away.

2. Before you can choose a second toy, the first one must be picked up and returned to the closet. If the toy is not picked up in a reasonable length of time, mother puts it on the high shelf where it remains for three days.

In an amazingly short time our new system was operating smoothly. I found it helped to occasionally compliment the boys on helping to keep our home neat and clean.

When the responsibility for taking care of toys is shifted to the child, mother and father do not have to nag or plead or pick up toys themselves. Children like it because they can always find the pieces to their toys, and they only have to pick up one set of toys at a time instead of a whole roomful. Judy Grigg Hansen, Boise, Idaho

Trip Tips—Family Style

Family trips are usually memorable occasions. But in these days of high gasoline prices when short trips are more the rule than the exception, how does a family make the most of their outings? The secret is in the planning.

First, let family members be involved in the planning. They can read up on where you’re going and take turns at the dinner table reporting on points of interest along the way, the history of the area, clothing that will be needed, and so on. In our family, we also discuss manners and the behavior that will be expected at a beach, at a nice restaurant, a zoo, or a historic shrine. Together we make a few rules for the road: how much noise will be tolerated in the car; how many stops will be allowed; where children will sit; where to dispose of wrappers, papers, and peelings.

For longer trips, children age eight and up will enjoy studying maps and planning routes, then acting as navigators en route. Young children can help select a soft toy, books, and simple games to take along. For one family trip, grandma made drawstring denim bags with individual names on them, each to contain a coloring book, papers, crayons, a small car, card game, and a few pieces of candy. The older children were responsible for keeping their own things together. We also had some felt cutouts with which they made up stories as they placed them on a white towel folded over the back seat. Simple “sewing cards” can be made by punching holes along the edges of poster-weight paper which has been cut into shapes. Cards are “sewed” with long shoelaces.

Once on the road, the car becomes confining, so we plan extra stops where there’s room to run and expend some pent-up energy that might otherwise explode into unkind words. We give the young children room to move, stretch, and sleep inside the car by putting luggage on the floor between the back and front seats, then placing sleeping bags or a foam pad over them to form a flat play-and-sleep area.

A family can save considerable expense and at the same time provide good nutrition by packing a cooler with buttered bread and sandwich fixings (or pre-made sandwiches, if they will be eaten in a short time), fresh fruit, carrot and celery sticks, cheese, boiled eggs, and snack crackers. Powdered juice or punch mix can be added by spoonfuls to cups of cold water from the jug that should always be carried on a trip.

We learned the hard way that it pays to always keep a plastic ice cream bucket with a lid in the car for unforeseen emergencies. The lid prevents spillage of the contents until they can be disposed of. Another indispensable item is premoistened wash cloths.

A cassette tape recorder proved valuable several times on a recent trip with our children. We had only two story cassettes, but we taped also the small-size, long-playing records which have accompanying books. Children also enjoy recording their own voices—talking or singing—and playing them back during a long ride.

Through adequate planning and preparation, the family trip can become not only a learning experience, but a fond memory as well. Laurie Williams Sowby, American Fork, Utah

Windproof Table Settings

A picnic cloth with pockets that hold flatware helps solve a windy-day problem. To make this table cover, measure table and allow for a seven-inch drop on each side. Stitch narrow bands of fabric on the drop, leaving top seams unstitched. Then stitch the bands vertically to form individual pockets for flatware.

Table runners won’t blow away when the ends are fastened around heavy dowels. Cut lengths of plastic or cloth to fit the table, allowing a ten-to-twelve-inch drop at each end. Staple or sew a one-inch dowel, cut two inches longer than width of fabric, to each end. Place flatware over napkins to prevent blowing away. Low tumblers are a good choice also.

[photos] Photography by Marilyn E. Péo