Learning Based Toys Help Expand Little Minds and Facilitate Quality Time

Children’s toys are both blessing and a curse. They clutter up the house, make annoying noises and empty the wallet. At the same time, they occupy children when we are trying to make dinner, do chores and enjoy down time. I want my kids to get something out of their toys. I wrote a previous post on toys that inspire responsibility. I am also passionate about toys that inspire learning. My kids go to a little Montessori school in town and I love how focused they are with their “work” and decided to bring it home. The attention to detail, engagement and most of all of sense of pride for solving problems warms my heart. I recently bought a few for the house and not only are they occupied, our quality time spent together has increased. 

A few of my favorites:

Wooden Math Station. This toy aims to teach the basic concepts of counting and math while promoting hand and eye coordination. 

Phonetic Reading Blocks. Gain experience with words and rhyming. These interactive blocks help children see the connection between words. 

Pattern Blocks.Great for building early shape, color and number recognition. Inspires creativity and artistic exploration. 

Cutting Fruit Set. Not only will your children be able to learn more about different types of food but also the concepts and whole and parts. 

For more information on bringing Monetessori practices into your home, I highly recommend “Teaching Montessori in the Home” by Elizabeth Hainstock. This bestselling book helps parents connect with their children while utilizing Maria Montessori’s tools. The Montessori Program inspires discovery and awareness.  


Meetings, Meetings, more Meetings, O My!

There were days and weeks where every moment of my 9 hour workday was filled with meetings. I toured the office going from room to room to interface, gather information and pile on tasks for my to-do list. Meanwhile, hundreds of emails are pouring into my inbox that I do not have time to address. As a result, it leaves me obligated to check emails after I have put my little ones to bed. If I am describing your work day, here are a few tricks I started doing. I still have a lot of meetings but by being smarter about meeting protocol, I’ve gotten time back. Most importantly, family time back.

  1. Block off desk time. If you need to dedicate brainpower to a single project, block off time. This lets people know you are not available and it’s a visual cue to you reminding yourself to dedicate time to the priority.
  2. Color code your calendar invites. I color all in person meetings green. All phone calls are teal and desk time is blue. It has helped me to get to in person meeting on time because I know if it’s green, I must physically move around the building.
  3. No Meeting Days. Establish a day of the week where you do not take meetings. If your organization is meeting heavy, start with a half day. Block off the recurring chunk of time in advance so others know to plan around it. Even better, have your team or even the entire organization adopt the same chunk of time. The biggest benefit of an organization wide “No Meeting Day” is everyone will be at their desk so real time collaboration can take place. We have all been there. We really need to talk to someone but we can’t because they are always stuck in meetings. And because they are always in meetings, they never answer their emails. No Meeting Days will solve for this cat and mouse game.
  4. Require defined agendas in calendar invites. If you work with someone that sends you blank calendar invites, decline it (or ask for more detail). An efficient meeting can only happen if both parties are prepared. I recommend including an agenda and a desired outcome statement in all meeting invites.
  5. Meetings are for decision making. Al Pittampalli’s book, Read This Before Your Next Meeting: How We Can Get More Done is genius. My biggest takeaway from this read is the overall message which is all meetings should be like a Daytona 500 pitstop. It’s a time to refuel, recharge and make decisions to progress forward. Question those boring status meetings that drain everyone in the room. If those status updates can be shared via another forum, do it. There are a plethora of tools like Asana and Monday.com where teams can communicate updates in a streamlined manner.


The beauty of Read This Before Your Next Meeting: How We Can Get More Done is it will take you less than 45 minutes to read it. It’s an extremely short book filled with principles that will lessen your workload, relieve stress and yield productive workdays. At least for me, that’s what it did.


Boring Presentation — Image by © Corbis