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#39: Keeping Toddlers Busy at Home with Myriam Sandler from Mothercould

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If you’ve ever tried one of those sensory play ideas or bins to keep your toddler busy at home, let me guess how it went: 

  1. It was a HUGE mess
  2. You put in SO much effort you put in for five minutes of your little one’s attention.

Or. maybe you’re like me, and you’ve never tried a sensory activity because even just the thought of cleaning up slime—or worse, paint!—scares you too much. (Why do they always go for the clean white walls?!)

Well either way, you’re going to love what I have for you today. I invited Myriam Sandler to this podcast to teach us easy sensory play ideas we can do today that are TOTALLY mess-free. She’ll talk about how sensory play got her toddler eating solid foods (for real!), and we’ll get into why creating a setup routine and boundaries with your little one is so important for keeping the mess off the floors and in the bins. If you’re a mama who’s done with finding “fun” sensory substances all your house, grab a coffee, and let’s dive in! 

Meet Myriam Sandler, Creator Of Mothercould!

Myriam Sandler is a Miami-based mother who shares unique short video tutorials of sensory play-at-home activities, food recipes, and parenting hacks on her Instagram page,@mothercould. Her visual content is quick and easy to follow, offering a global community of parents and educators, accessible play solutions. Before creating Mothercould, Myriam worked for The Salvation Army homeless shelter of Miami in the women and children’s division, where she assisted families navigating out of homelessness.

In This Episode, We Discuss…

  1. How Sensory Play Can Help Your Little One (03:08)
  2. Sensory Play And Picky Eaters  (04:25)
  3. How To Keep A One-Year-Old Busy  (11:35)
  4. Mess-Free Ideas To Keep Toddlers Busy Indoors (16:15)
  5. How To Keep Sensory Play Affordable–Hello Dollar Tree  (19:09)
  6. More Activities To Keep Toddlers Busy (Card-Board, More Like Card-Fun!)  (20:41)
  7. Put A Little Prep In Your Step  (25:10)
  8. Creating A Toddler Play Area At Home And Setting Boundaries  (29:20)

Listen to the full episode here:

TLDR: Sensory Play Ideas And Links To Get You Started

Want to get your little one started with sensory play? Get kick-started with the tips, tools, and tricks we mentioned in today’s episode: 

Episode #39: Keeping Toddlers Busy at Home with Myriam Sandler from Mothercould (Complete Transcript)

Kacie: Welcome, Myriam.

Myriam: Hello.

Kacie: I’m so happy to be chatting with you today.

Myriam: Thank you for having me on. I’m very excited to talk to you.

0:00:12.1 Kacie: You know, this morning, I was just trying to think back to, “When did I start following Myriam on Instagram?” And I’m like, “I can’t remember, but I feel like it traces back to you talking about how to get slime off of things.”

Myriam: That would actually be a perfect time to follow me.

Kacie: Right? I know… My kids got a gift of slime (thank you, grandma!), and it was all over our furniture, and I was like, “Somebody, please help me,” and I remember reaching out my stories, and people were like, “Mothercould. Mothercould. Mothercould.”

Myriam: I’m sure I was already following you because I don’t remember following you either. And, it’s probably ’cause one of my kids wasn’t eating right.

Kacie: For the people who don’t know you, tell us just a little bit about you.

Myriam: I’m Myriam Sandler, and I’m the creator of Mothercould. I specialize in short video tutorials of really easy activities to do with your kids. I really like using things that you probably already have at home. If you don’t have the exact items that I’m showing, I’ll show you some alternative things you can use.

Kacie: Yeah, and you show us how to clean up the mess too.

Myriam: Exactly. So I’ll show you how to make the mess and also how to clean it up.

Kacie: Which is necessary.

Myriam: It’s necessary. It’s definitely a combination.

Kacie: Yes, because honestly, that’s what would stop me in the first place from some of the activities that I saw. When it comes to cleaning up, that’s where I get stuck. I don’t know what to do. I don’t wanna deal with it. Can you show us how?

Myriam: Yeah, it’s the fun part. I always go on my Instagram stories and say, “guys, look around. My house is white, my walls are pretty white, my furniture is very light, and there’s no food coloring anywhere. How does that happen?”

Kacie: Exactly. We’ll talk some more about some ideas today, but first, tell us how you got started on sensory play.

How Sensory Play Can Help Your Little One

Myriam: I have three daughters. I have a seven-year-old, a four-year-old, and a five-month-old. It all started when my now seven-year-old, Nicole, was approaching her first birthday and refused to eat any sort of solids. All she wanted was breast milk, breast milk, breast milk, and more breast milk. I was like, “No girl, you can’t have that much breast milk,” but she would refuse to have anything else. And even though we’re not very tall people, she was in the 90th percentile of height and weight, which is insane. Our doctor pediatrician was like, “Don’t worry. She’s totally fine. She’s gonna eat. Give her time.” But I had already started introducing solids when she was six months, so now it has been six months and nothing.

Kacie: Yeah. No progress.

Myriam: She just wasn’t eating. And at that time, there were no Instagram eating specialists to give you tips. There was nothing.

Kacie: No. No.

Myriam: We’re talking six and a half years ago now.

Kacie: We’re so old.

Myriam: I know, right?

Kacie: We’re before this era. I know. 

Myriam: So I had a little bit of knowledge about sensory play and how beneficial it was for texture sensitivities. I realized she had a sort of texture sensitivity, and I was like, “You know what, I got nothing to lose, so I’m just going to dive deep into sensory play.” I started with textures that she was already comfortable with. So we knew she liked breast milk, so liquids. So I started doing water play sensory bins, and she loved them. Three days after that, I introduced a little bit more of a thicker texture. So I made CHC slime. The first day she touched it, and she was like, “No, mom, not happening, It’s not, no.” The second day, two fingers. Okay, we’re getting somewhere. The third day, a full hand. The fourth day, all in, ALL IN. And I was like, “Okay, this is going well.”

Kacie: I just wanna say the fact that you kept up with it is impressive. As you said, you had a little bit of background in it, so you had the “I need to keep going” voice. Even then, I think a lot of parents would be discouraged if they didn’t see that progress right away and give up.

Myriam: I’m very thankful for my training prior to becoming a mom because I worked at a center for children and families here in South Florida with kids that had ADD and ADHD. At the center, we used a ton of sensory play to connect with the kids and ground the situations. So I knew that the first time wasn’t gonna go well. Even the second time, not so much. But that’s kind of like with everything with children, right?

Kacie: Yes.

Myriam: When you’re doing sleep training the first night, it’s horrible. The second night is better, and the third, you start seeing the progress. The same with potty training, first is day terrible, second is a bit better. Third day is magical.

Kacie: Sometimes they’re all terrible. We had a terrible potty training experience. I tried too soon not to get off-topic, but I’m just a little scarred from that. But the second time around, it went better.

Myriam: I was thankful to have that previous experience because I knew that while I was introducing these sorts of different textures through play, she wasn’t gonna get it at first. But by building on textures that she was comfortable with–from kinds of pasta to kinds of rice– I was able to create a safe place and start to use these items in recipes. In six months, she was eating quinoa and salmon.

Kacie: Wow.

Myriam: I was like, “Damn.”

Sensory Play And Picky Eaters

Kacie: That’s amazing. So walk us back to when she was one, and you really wanted her to be on solids. What was happening? Was she throwing her food, was she refusing to eat it? What were some of the things that were happening?

Myriam: There were a lot of things happening. One of them was that she was taking everything out of her mouth. So I would put something in her mouth, and she would stick her tongue out and go, “Nah, Nah, Nah,” and take the food out automatically. Sometimes she would even cry from looking at the spoon. She would see it coming, and she didn’t want it. Towards the end, when it was getting really hard, I would put her in the high chair without any food around, and she would start crying. So at first, it was more like, ‘I don’t like these textures. I don’t wanna do it. I don’t.’ And I was like, “Maybe she just doesn’t like my cooking.” So my mom was said, “You should add a little bit of salt.” And that’s what I did.

Kacie: Yeah.

Myriam: No.

Kacie: No?

Myriam: It wasn’t the taste that was bugging her. Then my mom said, “Maybe she just doesn’t like salty foods. So maybe you should start with the fruit.” So I went with the fruits. No, she didn’t like that either. And I was like, “Okay, baby-led weaning. That’s what’s gonna help my situation.” So I put the stuff on her high chair and walked away. I looked out the corner of my eye. Everything was on the floor within three seconds.

Myriam: It wasn’t the method. It wasn’t the flavour. It was the textures.

Kacie: Yeah.

Myriam: It was simply the texture. And I know you shouldn’t blame yourself as parents, but it was my first daughter. And all I wanted her to do was look cute. So I would put the bibs on her, and I wouldn’t let her get dirty. And I think that’s part of it. She had really cute clothes. My grandmother would sew her little outfits. I would put them on her and think, these can’t get dirty.

Kacie: Yeah.

Myriam: Let’s just say for my second child, she was butt naked in all of her high chairs.

Kacie: Safe. But with that first kid, especially, and you’re trying to keep your house a little bit sane, and in order, you can’t help it. Then after the first kid, you realize that it’s just not possible. But when it’s your first one, you’re like, “I can control this.” I remember wiping Teddy’s face constantly throughout the meal.  And now I know that it’s not helpful, but at the time, I wanted to try and keep some sort of order.

Myriam: You just don’t know at the time.

Kacie: Yeah.

Myriam: And I always say, “Every parent has to go through the first child experience.” You just have to.

Kacie: I know, but we should have had like a rental to practice with before the first one. Haha!

Myriam: 100%, 100%. At least now there are podcasts and social media.

Kacie: Yeah.

Myriam: Where other parents can say, “Hey, don’t wait for her all the time. She’s gonna be fine.”

Kacie: I know.

Myriam: Or even, “if you don’t wanna ruin the clothes, take it off.”

Kacie: I know. So that’s where you got started. You must have really liked doing that kind of play with her.

Myriam: I loved it. It was one of the only ways that I was able to connect with her at her level. Otherwise, I was just like the puppeteer moving the puppet. And it kind of felt like every day was the same thing in different motions—even the same motions most of the time. So when I would do these little sensory play moments, even if it was 10 minutes–that eventually turned into hours–it was our way of connecting and playing together. Eventually, when she got a little bit older, we started making the sensory play recipes together. So she was learning different skills, measuring, scooping, pouring, transferring—all of these different things, and all through play.

Kacie: I absolutely love that. Especially for the parents who are like, “Well, I wanna make a recipe to eat. I don’t want my kid to ruin that. Because they’re gonna scoop twice as much flour.” But if you’re doing something for a play recipe, it doesn’t have to be so exact.

Myriam: Exactly. It doesn’t have to be so exact. And the cool thing is that if you’re making play dough and your little one is pouring in the flour, too much flour, just add a little bit more water, that’s it.

Kacie: Yeah.

Myriam: You’re not gonna eat it.

Kacie: Right.

Myriam: So if it tastes a little salty because they added too much salt, It’s okay. No big deal.

How To Keep A One-Year-Old Busy

Kacie: Okay, let’s talk about if someone has a one-year-old now. What would be some quick ideas for them to start out with?

Myriam: Number one for me is always water. There are so many things you can do with water. You can put it in a bin. You can freeze it with some of their favorite toys. Another cool idea is to put water and a little bit of oil in a sensory bag. Now you have a really cool lava lamp type of thing. And whenever you’re like, “I don’t know what to do with my child and water,” all you have to do is make sure it’s under two inches for drowning purposes.

Kacie: Okay.

Myriam: It’s very important to always use less than two inches of water for kids that are under three. For example, today, I did sensory water play with my five-month-old. I put her down for tummy time. She doesn’t like tummy time.

Myriam: I’ll start from the beginning. I laid down a towel to put her down for tummy time. After she was on her tummy, I put a little, very shallow tray in front of her. I poured the water onto the tray and added a tiny drop of blue food coloring and some ducks. It became like a little duck pond. The ducks were floating around. She was looking at them floating around. Then, I moved her, so she was sitting on me. She was looking down as her little feet were dangling and splashing. Finally, I put her back on her tummy one more time. But this time, I put one of her arms inside of the water. So every time she would move her hand, the water would flap, and she was getting splashed. She was like, “What’s happening?!” Some people think it’s just water, but I created a little themed water play for her. For older kids, you can make it mysterious by making it really dark. You could do black food coloring so that you can hide things inside the water. So, as they go with their hands, they take things out. It becomes a kind of like a mystery box. Water is one of my favourite things. On my site, you can find a ton of taste-safe sensory recipes. A good rule of thumb when it comes to taste-safe sensory play is, if it has flour, just make sure to cook it in the oven. Bake it for 15 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit and wait for it to cool.

Kacie: Do you just put it in a pan and stick it in the oven?

Myriam: Yeah, you put it in a pan, stick it in there at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. That’s going to essentially cook the flour, which will kill the bacteria. This is very important. If you have kids that are not mouthing anymore, you could go ahead and use the flour as it is, but for tiny, tiny kids, you’ll definitely wanna do that. There are tons of recipes where you can make taste-safe sand, which is super fun for them.

Kacie: What’s in taste-safe sand?

Myriam: An easier option is taste-safe cloud dough, which is just flour and oil.

Kacie: I’ve done that. It’s fun. I like it.

Myriam: It is fun. If you wanna do taste-safe beach sand, there’s a little bit more of a cooking component that you do with it. Basically, it’s the same ingredients, but you get a different texture.

Kacie: Gotcha, gotcha.

Myriam: Yeah.

Kacie: Okay, this is so good. Sometimes with water, I think, “Oh, it’s not worth it,” or “It’s only a couple of minutes of play,” but that’s just where you start.

Myriam: Yes, exactly. That’s where you start. At first, we feel like our one-year-old only plays for five minutes. But we have to understand that for a one-year-old, five minutes is a long time. Kids’ attention span is about one minute per year. So for a one-year-old, we’re talking about a one-minute attention span; a two-year-old, a two-minute attention span; same with the three-year-olds.

Kacie: Anyone who’s flown with a toddler knows that you have to have 100 toddler activities ideas for your flight.

Myriam: That is right because their attention span is very short. But what you’re teaching them in that minute is very valuable. Now you have a one-year-old who knows how to grab a cup because you sat them in front of a water bin earlier where they focused on pouring their water into the cup. So the next time they go up to the dinner table and try to pour water onto their cup, they’re gonna have this technique perfected as they’ve already played with it during sensory play. So you’re teaching them very valuable things without even knowing you are.

Mess-Free Ideas To Keep Toddlers Busy Indoors

Kacie: I’ve also seen you do a lot in the shower and in the bath with your girls. That has been such a mind-blowing thing for me because why did I never think to do that before?

Myriam: I live in South Florida, so for me, it’s really easy to get outside. It’s so easy to just go in the backyard. But with Nicky, I didn’t have a backyard. I lived in an apartment. So I did everything in the bath or in the shower. I would literally put a water bin in the bath with her even when she was not taking a bath. She would just be having fun in there playing with the water. And there’s no mess to clean because everything just goes down the drain. Plus, all she would be playing with was water with a little bit of food coloring.

Kacie: Right, right.

Myriam: I also love taste-safe paints. I have a bunch of recipes to create everything from baby paint to watercolor. I put that all in the shower; I put that all in the bath. It’s wonderful, wonderful!

Kacie: It is. I did that recently with Emelia. We were home because, I don’t know, her school was shut down or something, and I was like, “Oh, I’ve gotta pull out all the tricks to keep us entertained.” And she had the time of her life painting on the door of my shower. I was like, “This is fantastic because I can just rinse this off. I’m already in the shower.”

Myriam: That’s right. One thing I’m going to focus on this weekend is shower paint.

Kacie: I love that. This is in your Instagram Stories?

Myriam: Yes, I’m gonna put them in my Instagram Stories. I always save it to the Weekend Ideas highlight, so you can always find them there. And it’s all things that you can put together in less than five minutes.

Kacie: Amazing.

Myriam: And they will entertain your little ones for a long time. One of my favorite shower paints is made by combining shaving cream, a little bit of shower gel, and one drop of food coloring. They’re the funnest paints.

Kacie: I bet it’s a nice soft, not drippy texture.

Myriam: Exactly. And it’s made of things that you would naturally put in the shower anyways.

Kacie: Yes. I know, I feel like whenever I go to the Dollar Store, I buy shaving cream.

Myriam: Yeah, shaving cream and grab yourself some hair gel. That’s my other favorite thing.

Kacie: Okay. That’s something I never think about.

How To Keep Sensory Play Affordable (Hello Dollar Tree!)

Myriam: Yeah, hair gel is great for sensory bags. One of my favorite sensory things to make is a writing bag. To make this,  I take a Ziploc bag, pour in some clear hair gel, food coloring, and glitter if you have any–if not, it’s not necessary. If you have a baby, this is a really great squishy bag, and if you have older kids, they can practice their writing strokes on the bag. So anything from numbers, letters, or even just lines on the bag. You erase it by squishing it back together and then make more strokes with it. It’s really fun.

Kacie: I love that idea. Where do you normally buy the things you use to make these? Like shaving cream, hair gel… Do you get them from the Dollar Store?

Myriam: Dollar Tree, 100%. Most things I get at Dollar Tree. If I’m getting rice for example–I don’t dye rice anymore because it lasts forever, and I have every color now–But if I were going to do that, I would get it all at Dollar Tree. Everything at Dollar Tree. All of it.

Kacie: Yes.

Myriam: The rice, oil. You can get everything for my play recipes there. Everything.

Kacie: Okay.

Myriam: Like by the teacher section, they have fun things like tongs.

Kacie: Yes.

Myriam: Those are so fun.

Kacie: Yes, I love tongs, especially the small ones, like the cute little kid-friendly sized tongs. I love them. I think they really help strengthen kids’ hand-grip, right?

Myriam: Exactly. And hand-grip is one of the things that you’re like, “how do I teach my child how to grab a pencil?” You don’t teach it by giving them a pencil and showing them hand over hand. You teach it through play. And that’s just one of the greatest things about learning through play, is watching them transfer these skills. They start by using the tongs to transfer some of their sea animals during play, but eventually, they’re gonna use those same tongs in the kitchen. Or let’s say you give them a paintbrush to have fun in the shower painting, but eventually, that same grip is gonna transfer to the classroom or homeschool. Same situation.

More Activities To Keep Toddlers Busy (Card-Board, More Like Card-Fun!)

Kacie: Now, I know you have a million ideas on your website, but I quickly wanna talk about cardboard boxes.

Myriam: Yes.

Kacie: What should we do with our cardboard boxes?

Myriam: Oh my gosh, okay, so if I have to pick one thing for you to do with your cardboard boxes, It would be… Well, it depends. If you’re a hoarder like me, then follow these instructions. Haha.  No, but I love creating reusable coloring boards. That’s my favorite thing to do with boxes. I started off by making a make-up board for my daughters. First of all, these make-up boards made of cardboard went viral, right? But I kept looking at them and was like, “My kids are gonna paint one time the nail polish, and then I’m gonna just have to throw away the cardboard.” So I wrapped it in clear packing tape, and now it’s a reusable coloring board.

Kacie: Amazing. That honestly makes a huge difference ’cause I did that too, I did the nails, and then I was like, “Well, I guess I’ll throw this out now.” But then you put the packing tape on, and you can just wipe it off ’cause they’re done in two minutes.

Myriam: They’re done in two minutes. Literally. It takes you five or 10 minutes to create the board and half a second for them to finish painting it. I was like, “No, girlfriend. No.” So by even just putting a layer on top of clear packing tape, you create a reusable coloring board.

Kacie: Yes, fantastic.

Myriam: Fun. So fun.

Kacie: And I like that it’s a bigger surface area too, ’cause they like to get all over the place, so if it’s a bigger area, we have less on the floor.

Myriam: That’s right. That’s right. That’s one of my favorite things to do. Honestly, if you just have a large box that you don’t really know what to do with it, and it’s not recycling day, have them go at it. Give them some sort of arts and craft materials. It could be anything. It could be glue and pom-poms, paint, or silky crayons. Markers don’t really show up well on cardboard, but any type of material you have and just let them at it. Let them have fun with it—so many options with cardboard.

Kacie: Yeah. Thank you, Myriam.

Myriam: One time, for my husband’s 35th birthday, I created a cardboard cake. I layered different size boxes, and we used puffy paint, which is equal parts shaving cream, white glue, and food coloring. I put the puffy paint into little bags, cut the corners, and used it as pipettes.

Kacie: Wow. And it looks like frosting.

Myriam: And it looks like frosting. It dried really puffy and fun.

Kacie: Yeah. I love that. Okay, didn’t you make Gabby’s dollhouse out of cardboard boxes? How many hours did that take, Myriam?

Myriam: It was like at least 24.  It’s one of my favorite things that I’ve ever made. I made a whole dollhouse, including the elevator that worked. That was so fun. It’s now been donated, which hurt my soul, but I had no more space in my home.

Kacie: Anything is possible with cardboard.

Myriam: Anything! One of my other favorite projects is a little lemonade stand we made. It was so fun.

Kacie: That’s cute.

Myriam: They loved it. Walmart has decorated boxes that kind of look summery, so I made that as the base. Then I went in with some paper rolls, added a sign at the top, and they made cardboard lemons to put around the stand. It was very cute.

Kacie: That’s adorable.

Myriam: Very cute. That’s more intricate, right?

Kacie: Well, yes. That’s just us dreaming about the Pinteresty things.

Myriam: That’s right. I try not to post so much of that. One time I made an entire kitchen out of cardboard.

Kacie: Like a play kitchen out of cardboard?

Myriam: Like a whole play kitchen, including the refrigerator.

Kacie: I missed that one. Wow.

Myriam: Yep. It was very fun. I try not to share so much of that because, you know.

Kacie: Yeah, it’s a little overwhelming.

Myriam: It’s a little extra.

Put A Little Prep In Your Step

Kacie: Okay, one last thing that I wanna ask you. For the moms who are still worried about the mess, what would you suggest besides the shower paints? 

Myriam: So let’s say you’re doing a dry sensory base. We’re talking rice, beans, pasta, kinetic sand–all of these dry sensory bases. Setting up is equally as important as anything else. You wanna optimize the setup so that when you clean up, it takes you less than two minutes. 

Kacie: How do we do that?

Myriam: So a lot of people will take a sensory tray and just put it on the table.

Kacie: Yeah.

Myriam: And two things happen: one, their elbow hits the corner, and the entire sensory tray flops on the floor. I’ve seen it over and over and over again. Two, they put the sensory base–let’s say it’s dyed rice–on the table with nothing else, no tools, no cups, no anything. And if I was a child, this is something new to me. What would be your first instinct? You’re gonna grab it, and you’re gonna throw it. What else can you do? It’s like, there’s no way around it.  I’m gonna tell you the whole setup of what I do instead. Put the sensory bin on the floor, take a sheet–well, I like to use a table protector, so they’re a little bit thicker, or you could use a shower curtain, whatever you have–set it on the ground, and make sure it’s flat. You could anchor it down with some furniture if you want to, but it’s not necessary if you spread it out really far. Then you’re gonna take a larger bin, like those 24-quart size bins–a storage bin–not the tall ones, but more of the shorter ones. You’re gonna put it in the center, and you’re gonna use the lid of that bin as your catch-all tray. So you’re going to put that right next to it.

Kacie: Okay.

Myriam: Then you’re gonna take your sensory tray with the rice and put it inside of the bin. So whatever falls out of the tray most likely will fall into the bin, and whatever falls out of the bin is gonna fall onto the tray or the sheet.

Kacie: Okay. So we’ve got the layers of protection here.

Myriam: We have the layers of protection, that’s exactly right. But that’s not it. I’m now going to be giving them tools, right? I’m giving them spoons, and I’m giving them scoops, I’m giving them little toys. I’ve made an ocean. I put sea animals and a whole bunch of other fun stuff in there. Okay?

Kacie: Yeah.

Myriam: So now they have a purpose to the bin. What are they doing? Oh, they’re bearing the fish, or rescuing them, or whatever they wanna do with it—and just enjoying the sensory base, right. So after they’ve played and they’ve done, what I like to do is put the tools right onto the lid of the bin. That’s kind of their work area. Because the majority of what was falling out of the bin was falling onto the lid, I’m gonna take that lid and pour everything back into the bin. Everything goes in the bin. Now a lot of the mess that is left is on the sheet. So, the sheet becomes a funnel.

Kacie: Yeah.

Myriam: You pick up the sheet, wrap it up, and then you funnel it all back into the bin.

Kacie: And then you’re done. Nothing’s on your floor.

Myriam: Nothing’s on your floor. You might get a piece here and there that rolled away, but it’s not like you’ve lost it all. Not even close.

Kacie: I just love this.

Myriam: The setup is so important.

Kacie: And I’m guessing it just becomes a kind of a routine. You just know the pieces, you get everything out, and it’s not this whole big to do. You just know, this is what I do each time.

Creating A Toddler Play Area At Home And Setting Boundaries

Myriam: A lot of people say, “But my child. I do all this, and my child still takes the rice and runs.” And I like to say two things. One, you have to set up boundaries. Sure, you can’t just tell a one-year-old to make sure they keep it in the sheet. They don’t know what you’re talking about. So instead, what I like to do is take painter’s tape, blue painter’s tape, and I like to create kind of like a physical boundary around the area. And then you can tell them, “Okay, you see the blue lines? Do you see the blue lines? We have to keep it within the blue lines. Okay? It’s very important. It’s part of the game. Can you keep it within the blue lines?” And now it becomes a kind of like, “Oh, wow, okay, I gotta stay within the lines.” kind of game. Let’s say they don’t stay within the blue lines. Now your boundaries have failed, you’re gotta say, “Okay, if you get out of the blue, then I gotta put it away.” but then you got to follow it through, ’cause we know us parents like to give boundaries and not follow through and then, we’re weak. We’re weak.

Kacie: That happens. I know, so weak.

Myriam: So weak. But it’s important, especially during these sensory playthings that you wanna set up for them. There were so many times at first when I took the bin away. Where they didn’t respect the boundaries that I put, so I took them away. But the next time when I brought it back, you best believe they respected those boundaries much better. It’s all about following through. Setting those boundaries, following through, and giving them a visual that they can actually understand. Because if the sheet blends with the floor, forget it. Forget it.

Kacie: That’s so helpful. I think that a lot of times, I do these things in the moment. My husband always laughs at me because he’s like, “Didn’t you expect this to happen?” I’m like, “I wasn’t thinking that far ahead.” So I love that you’re helping us think about the before so the after becomes much easier. Because, you know, sometimes you’re just trying to get by. So this is really helpful.

Myriam: Yeah. The great thing about me being able to share it is that I’ve already been through it. I’ve already been through every possible scenario. A lot of the sensory play recipes I create taste awful. They taste safe, but they taste awful. The kids will automatically taste it, but making it taste awful will most likely cause them to spit it out almost immediately. So I like to differentiate between taste-safe and edible. Like edible is like these yummy pancakes that you’re making them, and these taste-safe recipes are for them to be able to taste but not eat.

Kacie: Right, safe to put in the mouth, but they’re not going to wanna keep doing that.

Myriam: Exactly. And making them taste awful helps with that.

Kacie: I would never have thought about that, but it makes complete sense.

Myriam: Yeah.

Kacie: Myriam, thank you so much. I love your tips and just your whole energy. It’s so positive and lighthearted. You’re such a bright spot for moms who are just trying to do their best. So, I love following you on Instagram.

Myriam: Oh, you’re so sweet. I appreciate it.

Kacie: For anybody who’s not following Myriam, you can find her at @Mothercould on Instagram and on her website at

Myriam: Exactly. 

Kacie: Perfect. Okay. Bye Myriam.

Myriam: Bye. Thanks.

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