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3 min read

I was in a book store a couple weeks ago, trying to choose a new book for myself, and I just couldn't decide. I was tired and overwhelmed so I ended up leaving empty-handed.

The mental load of being a parent is HUGE. It feels like you always have 300 thoughts running through your head at any given time.

Sometimes you just don't have the capacity to make one more decision, even if it's something as small as buying a book. I would have been thrilled if someone in the book store had asked me what I like to read and made a few suggestions.

That's why we like to offer 1-on-1 help in the shop - if people want it, of course!

You can also call or email us if you want suggestions too :)

BUT if you like to shop closer to home or can't shop with us because you live outside of Canada, here's the 5 questions we ask to help parents find the perfect gift:

  • What is the child interested in?

Do they like art? Building? Tinkering? Imaginative play?Finding a gift that aligns with the child's interest is always going to be a good choice.Some parents worry about broadening a child's interests if they seem hyper-focused on one skill or type of play. Rest assured, this will happen over time and it's not something you need to stress about.You're better off following their lead and finding activities and toys that align with their interests. This is what helps to develop a love of learning.For my builder-loving four year old, I regularly rotate between unit blocksMagnatilesPlus-Plus and Duplo, so there's always a building toy out.

It's ok to have a couple of toys that serve the same purpose because you can rotate them. It keeps the play fresh and exciting, even if you've had them for a few years.

  • What skills are they working on?

How does your child like to spend their time? Younger children might not have obvious interests quite yet but they usually do have skills they're focused on building, like fine motor skills, gross motor skills, or sensory play.A fun gift would be an item that's for the "next stage" of their current interests. For example, if they are working on their fine motor skills and enjoy a shape sorter or stacking rings, they might enjoy a beading set next.Observe your child and watch the types of movements and materials they currently gravitate to.

  • Do they have older siblings?

If the child has older siblings and they've gotten lots of 'hand me down' toys, I like to suggest two things.1. Choose something a little more unique or 'special', like Grimm's toys or playsilks. These types of toys are wonderful for imaginative play and they're unique but they're a little pricier. Families might not have these items in their playroom yet because of that.2. Choose an item that gives the younger child 'leverage' with their older siblings. This is a funny idea that I got from the very popular "Busy Toddler" mom and have shared with lots of parents in the shop.She explains how older siblings are always being forced to share their stuff with the younger sibling but the opposite is rarely true. The younger one doesn't often have stuff that the older children are interested in.Choosing a gift with all your children in mind can be beneficial for this reason. Art supplies, building toys, or bath toys can work really well to interest children at a bunch of different ages.

  • What size play space do they have?
If the play space is small, I suggest more multi-use toys that are easy to store, like:
  • If it's a gift for a child that's NOT yours...
We don't usually recommend instruments or messy play (paint, sensory bins, etc) unless you know for sure how the parents feel about it.
Shop Our Gift Ideas GuidesTalya (M.A. at OISE in Child Study and Education) and Katie (BA, RECE, IT Mont. Dip.) worked together to create these beautiful gift idea guides.Each list has one item at a different price point (under $30, $30-$50, $50-$100, $100-$200, and $200+)
You can check them out here:
You Can Also Create a WishlistIf you have gift ideas from our website that you want to share with friends and family, you can create a wish list here, where people can mark off what they've purchased: https://themontessoriroom.com/apps/giftregistry
I hope that helps cut down on some of the mental load next time you're shopping :)