About a year ago, I came across the genius idea of morning baskets through this post from because I said so, baby. The basic premise is to fill a small box or basket with toys or activities for your child to play with first thing in the morning. While they’re playing, you can make breakfast, clean the kitchen, drink your coffee or make space for your own morning routine.
I’ve implemented morning baskets for our two kids (ages 2 and 1), and it works beautifully. I know it sounds simple (and maybe obvious?), but the magic is in the implementation. At first, I gathered up all of the toys my oldest child was interested in at the moment (the youngest wasn’t born yet), and divided them up evenly among seven — one for each day of the week — fabric cubes with lids. I regularly rotated out the toys so that the box contents stayed fresh and held her attention. That process worked really well for nine months or so. By then, my second daughter was old enough to play and both children were getting bored. I returned to because I said so, baby (can you tell I’m a fan?!) and found her post on morning baskets for 3 and 4 year olds. She goes into detail on how to create themed baskets…bugs, dinosaurs, autumn, etc. I love a good theme, and as it turns out, my daughters do too. Now instead of a toy rotation, I’ve implemented a theme rotation. Our current themes are: safari animals, the ocean, transportation, building, farm animals, ABCs, and colors and numbers. The next baskets I’ll introduce are autumn, insects, dinosaurs and outer space. You can find more ideas on creating a Fall-themed basket here and a Spring-themed basket here.
This approach is totally flexible based on what you have at home. I haven’t had to buy new toys or books to create our existing baskets; instead, I gathered their toys together and divided them into themes based on what was available. And when it comes time for birthdays and holidays, I have a few gift ideas in mind based on what we’ll need for our future baskets. It helps give grandparents ideas too!