This year has been difficult for Otto (2yrs). After moving in January it's taken us months to fully set up our prepared environment to the point that everything is working and functional. But it's so worth it, and it's worth taking time to get it right. As Otto's environment and little spaces in our home came together I noticed a change. Slowly he has taken on more responsibility for his personal care, slowly his level of concentration, patience, perseverance and ability to play alone returned. Having his own snack cupboard is just a small but important part of our prepared home environment.
A toddler snack cupboard, what's the point? It's not just that Otto can get an apple or banana, or cracker when he feels like it. It is that he can set his own place setting (placemat, utensils, napkin), get a fresh fork if one is dropped, he can put his apple cores or banana peel in the compost, he can get his own apron or get his spray bottle and cleaning cloths to clean up a spill, all independently, without having to ask permission or needing help. It's empowering and it allows him to do things he is more than capable of doing.
All without buying new furniture. We've used two small shelves underneath our pantry. Above Otto is standing on the floor reaching in, the cupboard just has two kitchen cupboard doors that easily swing open. Our kitchen isn't huge but it is large enough for our family of five. This is a small space to give up, sure I could use it for storage but it's well worth the sacrifice.
This space looks different every day. Sometimes there is more food, sometimes there is less. Sometimes it's full of crumbs or spilt breakfast cereal. Sometimes there are cookies or treats. The food preparation equipment changes too depending on the skills Otto is working on or what foods we have in the house.
Otto (and his brothers) also use a mini fridge in our kitchen (dining area) to reach their own water, refrigerated snacks, spreads, milk and juice. Otto also has a baking table which holds his baking tools (wooden spoons, spatulas, whisks, mashers, muffin trays etc). Most often Otto will prepare his snack on his baking table but sometimes he will just prepare it here on the shelf. Otto can easily reach the dishwasher so will put his dirty dishes straight into the dishwasher.
On the top shelf we have:
- Breakfast cereal and crackers in OXO POP containers - these containers are fabulous, they are airtight so they keep the food fresh but are so easy for a very young toddler to use.
- Toddler Utensil Set c/o Kiddobloom.
- Fruit - we are using the FULLSPÄCKAD serving tray to hold the fruit and other snacks.
- Tuna, peanut butter and sourdough.
- Small glasses - there are often more spare glasses in the mini fridge door.
- Plate - often there are two or so plates.
- Personalised Placemat.
On the bottom shelf we have:
- Hand juicer
- Small chopping board
- Strawberry slicer
- Small tongs
- Wavy Chopper
- Small cleaning cloths
- Small spray bottle
- Cleaning mitts - not shown underneath the apron.
The tools in this space change frequently, this is where we will put our juicer, or spiralizer or whatever is popular at the time.
Below are some pictures of our home (in Canberra) when Caspar and Otis were toddlers. This space utilises the lowest shelf in a step-in pantry.
Otis would also use this space to stand and work at.
If you don't already have a snack area for your children, I hope this gives you some ideas!
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