play, in nature and otherwise

Whew! Our “fully” filled summer calendar has been off to a great start with travel and camping and music on the weekends when I am not in school. Though at times I have lost my equilibrium in trying to juggle work and life and school again on top of it all, my husband has been quick to intervene and bring it all back into perspective and therefore balance. I am forever grateful to him for playing this role so gracefully in my life- especially in the face of a stressed-out, cranky wife and sometimes equally cranky child.

Our son’s first camping trip was everything we had hoped for his first birthday. Two nights in a Minnesota State park. Cool and damp. Our son was filthy and loved (nearly) every minute of it. Never before had we heard such happy coos out of him as when we were hiking through the wilderness. So we’ve come to the conclusion that he will fit in just fine. Plus, birthday cake out of the dutch oven and shared with friends who were backpacking for the weekend was a special treat for all of us.

In addition to starting school, another new mom and I have been working on the minimalist project of starting a toy library for our community. I will share with you what I have been sharing with everyone else:

The Minneapolis Toy Library is a mobile toy lending program which seeks to reduce waste, foster child development, and build community in the Minneapolis area.

The Minneapolis Toy Library is an idea which grew out of an eco-minded parent’s [my] struggle with wanting to stimulate her child’s development in the first year but also with wanting to be conscious not to buy toys that would eventually lead to more plastics being discarded into the environment. Always looking for ways to keep things simple and build community, this mom stumbled upon a brilliant idea: toy libraries. Toy libraries are starting up all around the world and have various focuses.  You can read more about international toy libraries here. After sharing the idea with some friends, community organizing to create a Minneapolis Toy Library picked up momentum.

Many parents feel the need to buy new toys to capture their child’s attention and stimulate their development but want to balance this desire with frugality whether out of environmentalism, minimalism, or necessity. Furthermore, young children’s interest wanes quickly with toys, so a lending service is a great way to ensure that toys are getting more use than they would if they stayed with just one family (and parents can forgo the headache of storing unused toys). In addition, toy library volunteers can help parents select toys that are appropriate for their child’s developmental age in order to offer the most engagement and learning.

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We just applied for a grant and will be notified August 1st about whether we will receive funding. It has been a bit of a time investment, but I think it’s well worth it for our family and the larger community. We hope to start out as a cooperative, donation-based mobile toy lending program by the end of the year!

 

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