When I started my weekend blog series about favorite things almost a year ago, the idea for the series was sparked by my sheer joy in finding a product that revolutionized my parenting on a day-to-day level. It was something so useful and so used by my children that I thought “this is worth sharing with other families!”
Thus the idea for the series “Friday Favorites” was born, and ironically, I’m finally writing about that revolutionary item today, almost a year later.
The story starts before I had children. When I was pregnant with my eldest, the Hubs and I visited the home of dear friends whose young children all attend a Montessori school. The Montessori method of learning has helped this family thrive. The children are immensely independent – they dress themselves, help make dinner, help clean up the house, use adult utensils at the dinner table – and I think the eldest of the four kids is now age 5. It’s really amazing to observe Montessori (hands-on learning) in action.
The item at this family’s house that intrigued me the most was called a “Learning Tower” created by the company Little Partners. It was a contraption set up in the kitchen where the kids could safely climb in and out of a raised stool that made them adult-height at the kitchen counter. The Learning Tower was made of heavy solid wood, and was designed to be tip-proof and kid-spill proof with it’s railing that encircled all four sides of the “tower.”
Fast forward to my first year of parenting with a clingy baby who wanted to be near his Mama all the time, and I was desperate for a Learning Tower of my own. My son wanted to be a part of everything I did, and while it was fine and endearing most of the time, it was a pain in the neck during the later afternoon when I would try to make dinner. The one handed pot-stirring with a baby on my hip was not my style of cooking. Nor was the two-handed pot-stirring with a baby attached to me via Bjorn or Ergo.
As Mark grew, he wanted to “help” more and more in the kitchen, which thrilled me. Since I absolutely love to cook, I have this daydream of some day cooking fabulous gourmet meals in a huge chef’s kitchen with my passel of strapping teenage sons [Hubs, start saving your money – for the chef’s kitchen and for our teenage boy-induced ginormous food bill that’s coming!]. As little Mark started helping me in the kitchen, I used a kid’s step stool or a kitchen chair to bring him up to the proper height. He took a couple nasty spills off a kitchen chair in our kitchen. It wasn’t pretty. At that point, the Hubs and I both agreed it was time to invest in a Learning Tower of our own.
The Learning Tower has made a world of difference in my motherhood. I don’t know how else to say it. It’s one of the most expensive children’s items we’ve purchased for our home, but it’s paid for itself a thousand times over. We use it dozens of times a day every day.
While there are many kid-learning-stools on the market today, I truly believe Learning Tower stands apart from the rest in it’s sturdy design and it’s intention of keeping children as young as 18 months old safe on a raised stool. The platform height adjusts as the child gets taller. And Little Partners makes “extras” for Learning Tower fun (lemonade stand cover, chalk board attachment, play/puppet house cover etc.) My husband has this image of one day owning two Learning Towers. He imagines our boys will be dueling across the kitchen island from their respective “forts” with their light sabers. I’m a girl raised with lots of sisters. I wouldn’t know about such things. Yet.
You might not have heard me mention our Learning Tower before, but you’ve actually seen it on my blog dozens of times. The Learning Tower is where my boys stand while I make three meals from scratch every day. It’s where they help me build a tossed salad for dinner, roll out dough for a favorite treat, decorate cookies for Christmas or feast days, build Playdoh figures while I do the dishes…you name it, we use the Learning Tower in our kitchen for it.
My children are 32 months and 15 months old, and both of them can climb into the Learning Tower all by themselves. I love knowing that they are secure and won’t take a nasty fall while they’re with me in the kitchen.
Truly, the Learning Tower has been a source of fun, learning, socializing, companionship, and stress-free Mama-ing in our home. I can’t recommend it to families with small children highly enough. Here are some pics of various activities we’ve done with our Learning Tower:
Happy Friday Y’all! Enjoy your weekend!
P.S. I think I forgot to mention the Learning Tower fits at least two bear cubs just fine. I’ll give you an update next year as to whether three can cram in there or not.
P.P.S. The boys
mashed and threw played with Playdoh in their Learning Tower while I drank my coffee and wrote this blog this morning.
Final note: Confucius says: “Do not leave bag of powdered sugar on counter within reach of small toddlers and their Learning Towers. Massive cleanup project may result.