She Says… Splurge

Do you hear that?

It’s the sound of angels singing.

It’s the sound of me being able to cook something without Owen wrapping his arms around my leg and trying to climb up my side, shouting “Up! Up! Mommy! Up!”.

It’s the sound of dinner simmering and homemade bread baking and music playing and having a little dance party in the kitchen, all the while knowing that Owen is contained, safe, happy, and still able to see what’s going on at counter height.

This just may be one of my favorite things we’ve ever bought for Owen. And no, no one is paying me to say this. We didn’t even get it for free. Far from it, in fact. This Learning Tower is not cheap. But do you know what it is? WORTH. EVERY. PENNY. And we’ve only had it a week.

Almost every morning, we make Owen an egg for breakfast. Since he got his play kitchen for Christmas he has shown a keen interest in helping (Hep! Help. Cock! Cook. Eh! Eggs.). In the beginning, “helping” meant me holding him while I cooked eggs. Which was a little tricky, what with the hot pan and squirmy toddler. Since we got the learning tower, it’s climbing into his learning tower on his own, choosing which egg from the carton he wants to eat, helping me put the coconut oil (“oyyo”) or butter (“buddah”) in the pan and telling me when it’s sizzling, watching the egg turn white and holding the spatula after I flip it, and finally climbing down from the learning tower on his own and walking over to his high chair to eat it.

Not only is it an awesome bonding time for the two of us, it’s also a great learning experience for Owen and a perfect way to keep him entertained and get something done.

Have I mentioned that I love my learning tower?

I know it may seem like a step stool or chair would do the same job. Well, it didn’t for us. Owen would stand still on our kitchen bar stool for about one millisecond. After that he was twisting and turning and climbing up the back and trying to climb down on his own (which he couldn’t do safely) and even trying to jump off. My little daredevil. A chair wasn’t going to cut it for us, as it still required one parent to stand behind Owen and make sure he wasn’t going to crack his head open.

The tower has kind of transformed the way we spend time in the kitchen. And we spend A LOT of time in the kitchen. The other night we had a dance party — Owen in the tower, Benjamin and I dancing around him, while we cooked. Owen climbs and hangs on the tower and I don’t worry about him falling off. I can put the tower strategically just far enough away from the counter or the stove so he can’t reach the dangerous stuff, but close enough that he feels like he is involved in the cooking process. I’ve heard of other people using it to let their kids play in the sink with soapy water, do craft/art projects on a table or counter, and even turning it into a puppet theater when they get a bit older. Now that’s versatile.

Now my little spider monkey can climb all he wants. And get “Up! Up! Up!” and “Dow! Dow! Dow!” all he wants. And I don’t have to do a thing except make sure nothing breakable is within his reach.

What have you bought or made for your child that had a huge impact on your life? Do you let your toddler stand on chairs or stools, or do you have a learning tower or other contraption?

 

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19 responses to “She Says… Splurge

  1. I’ve never left a comment before but let me just say my husband made a “learning tower” for my 18 month old on Monday and she loves it! She also wanted me to hold her or sit on the counter so she could see what was going on. This thing has changed our lives! She loves it and cries when it’s time to leave the kitchen. So for other readers who may not want to spend the money you can make one. Just google “learning tower.” My husband is going to make one for some friends of ours also – such a lifesaver!

  2. As Kristy mentioned, there are tutorials for DIY learning towers out there, including this one I pinned on Pinterest several months ago: http://pinterest.com/pin/243616661062558888/

    I love your learning tower and would consider purchasing if we decide we don’t have time to make one, but it looks HUGE! I have to ask–where do you keep it?!

  3. I’ve heard great things about the learning tower. We have some friends who have one for their 2 year old. I am thinking we may need one for Ruthie when she is older and well, when our kitchen is bigger than the itty-bitty tiny one we have right now. Glad you and Owen are enjoying cooking together!

  4. I might be in the minority here, but the last thing in the world that I want is a baby all up in my business when I’m trying to prepare food. I already have a hard time with her pulling stuff off the island and counter, the last thing I need is for her to have some sort of “storm the castle” type ramp. I can just see her pushing it around the house and getting into all sorts of trouble. Maybe if I could hide it when I don’t want to use it…

    Here’s a (hopefully not too offensive) question: do you think your opinion on stuff like a Learning tower (and other toys) would change if you were home instead of working? I feel like I’d be all excited to have her cook with me if I didn’t see her all day, but since I’m with her all day every day, that sounds awful and messy. Who knows :)

  5. @Kristy, That is awesome!

    @Heather, It IS huge. We have a dining room right off the kitchen and when it’s not in use, I tuck it in the corner of the dining room. I put thick pads on the bottom so it’s easy to push across the floor to get it out — even Owen can do it with a little help.

    @Kara, That’s not offensive at all! I don’t think it’s related to me working or staying home. On weekends and Mondays when I stay home with him, we spend almost every minute together. If I didn’t have the tower, I’d be half-cooking, half-baby wrangling, which stresses me out. Or not cooking at all, since playing with my busy boy (and keeping him out of trouble) is a full-time job. With the tower I can set him up with some bowls and wooden spoons to play next to me while I do what I need to do. Usually he’s not directly involved in what I’m cooking (the other night when we took the pictures, for instance, I made pumpkin bread and he played with the measuring cups and a bowl right next to me), so it’s not annoying for me. And he does try to push it around, but thankfully it’s still a little too heavy for him to get very far. Also, messy doesn’t bother me much, and I try to include him in the cleanup process as well.

  6. I NEEEEEEEEEEED ONE OF THESE, like I told you on Twitter!

    @Kara While it’s definitely an opportunity to make it a fun activity to cook with him, at our house, it’s definitely HIS insistence that it he’s up at the counter, so I think this product is more of a tool that helps cope with the “end of the day chaos” from when you walk in the door to get supper on the table. Cameron simply HAS to be all up in my arms when I come within 5 feet of the kitchen because he wants to help and see what’s going on which is supremely difficult when I get home with him from work/day care before the husband and I’m left to wrangle him by myself and get supper prepared quickly because the clock is ticking quite quickly from the time we step in the door (5:30) to when it’s time for bed time routine (6:30)!

    They are a bit too costly for my liking at the moment, so hubs is going to try to make one from the plans available online and see how that works out first. Plus I don’t even think I can buy them anywhere here and would have to spend a $1million on top of it for shipping/customs. But I could care less what the thing looked like, just SOMETHING safe that he can stand in safely that I can stow away in the garage off the kitchen and have TWO free hands and a toddler who is not screaming if I have to set him down for a second! lol

  7. We have a lime green one that my MIL thought would be perfect. Hannah’s a little young for it still, but in a couple months I imagine she’ll be interested in seeing what we’re doing. For now, though, she just gets SO angry if she sees food that she can’t have immediately!

  8. This thing is awesome. I am bookmarking this post for next year. Love that Owen is in to cooking! You need to get him his very own funky apron! :)

  9. OhmygoshIwantone. Seriously. Eli wants to be a part of what we do in the kitchen. I’ve gotten very good at holding him while I make pancakes. I’m excited at maybe looking into building one.

  10. Shoot, that thing is awesome.

  11. I need one of these for the cat!

    That’s a seriously good idea, will recommend it to my mom friends! x

  12. I think it’s a neat idea, but i don’t see it functioning in our home, we just don’t have the space. My little guy is only 10 months, but he loves to walk around the kitchen when I’m cooking, for now, he gets to hang out in the pack n play while I’m cooking.

  13. what a great idea! I’ll have to get one (as soon as we have a kitchen that’s big enough to fit it). It really does look like a great idea though, right now I just do what I can to keep Henry out of the kitchen while I’m cooking. :)

  14. you know what kate…… i was just looking at your first photo and Owen is just about half your size!!!! oh my time is flying by!!!! xo

  15. Thank you for this post and to Heather as well for the link to the DIY learning tower. We bought the materials last night for my husband to make one! My 16 month old is the exact same way – clinging to my leg saying “up, up, up!” while I work in the kitchen. We tried sitting her on the counter but she would get into too many things. I’m probably more excited than she is to get it made!

  16. I think it is a genius idea. My only thought when I read your post was, what are you going to do if you have another baby and then they both want to play in the learning tower? Does it fit 2? Or would it be something they’d have to learn to share?

  17. Pingback: DIY Learning Tower (or Helper Tower) | Heather Drive

  18. I’ve been thinking about getting one of these for my little guy (he’s 18 mo old). Are you still using it for Owen now? I don’t mind investing in one if its something that he will use for a long time.

  19. @Jenn, YES. Owen is almost 3 now and we still use it almost every day, either at breakfast or dinner, or for some “project” at the kitchen counter in between. Definitely worth the money if you have the space.

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