Quiet Bins AKA Sanity in a box AKA Momvana

I’m a stay at home mom (although I don’t really like that term, because we don’t really stay home, we get out as much as possible, but I’m yet to find the right title for my job so we’ll stick with it for now).  I have a 3 year old and an almost 1 year old and they are wonderful, adorable, brilliant, and they also are exhausting and are constantly finding new and amazing ways to push my sanity to the brink of extinction.

Being a mom does not come with a lunch break, union required 15 minute breaks, or even actually bathroom breaks.  But, hopefully it does come with nap time.  I love my kids, I love being home with them, I love taking them to do fun and cool things, and I also really love when they are asleep.  I’ve jokingly referred to the moments when they are either both asleep or at least independently entertained as my Momvana, like Nirvana, but for moms.  I’ve come to realize that breaks so I can be productive and just be me for a little while are really important.  If I can focus on me, then the time I am interacting with my kids is much better.  I’m more fun, I’m less likely to resort to screen time, and my patience level is much higher.  When I get a break, I’m more present when it matters most.

When I don’t get a break…I go insane.  It’s not pretty.  No one wants to see that.

So you can imagine a few months ago, when the 3 year old decided to skip naps more often than actually nap, I started going a little insane.

Enter quiet bins aka sanity in a box:


We started a new routine.  He still needs to go in his room but he gets a bin, a cup of milk, and a CD to listen to.  If he sleeps then great.  If not, he has enough to keep him entertained for about an hour which is just barely enough time for me to reset and get one or two things done.

He actually falls asleep with his bin at least 50% of the time now.  Today is not one of those days…in fact right now, to prolong the break, he’s actually jumping on couch cushions in his room.  You’ll notice the baby gate in the picture, I do put the gate up in his doorway during quiet time so he can open the door if he wants, but not escape.  Luckily he hasn’t figured out climbing over the gate, so if that’s your kid, sorry, I pray for your sanity.

I gave myself some general life rules when I come up with a crazy idea, because I come up with a lot of them.

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Keep it cheap

I kept trying to think through elaborate plans for how the system would work and I spent far too long searching Amazon for bins.  I ended buying the Iris Stack and Pull Box, 6 pack because it appeared to be the best bang for my buck.  I decided not to worry about designating a box for each day of the week and just rotate through.

I filled the boxes with a lot of cheap stuff.  Since he accesses it alone I wanted to make sure things were either durable, or cheap enough that if he did break them it wouldn’t be a big deal.

Honestly, most of this stuff came from the Target Dollar Spot.  I love that place.  They are constantly rotating items there, so unfortunately a lot of the stuff from my bins has rotated out, but there’s always new stuff to go find.  They regularly have cheap board books, cheap little toys, and recently they’ve had a lot of felt books and magnet sets.  As you look through the pictures you’ll see a lot of those items.  The other items are just things I had lying around the house, toys, cars, thrift store books, and some new books.  I just raided what we had in the playroom because there’s too much in there anyway.  Side note, the toys in the bins, by and large get played with more than most of his toys because he has a designated time and limited choice.  I’m thinking about doing something similar with all of the toys, if only I could just get that organized.

I tried to go with themes for each box, but it didn’t work out perfectly.  I spent a while trying to figure out more and better themes and then realized that my sanity boxes were negatively impacting my sanity, so I gave up on that and dubbed a few miscellaneous boxes or just threw some things in to fill out some of the boxes that had less stuff.

He also listens to a CD while he’s in his room.  I found a second hand CD player at Deseret Industries (a church sponsored thrift store).  I had to try a few out in the store to make sure they still worked, but my hunting eventually paid off.  Then I realized I had no kids CDs so we’ve been grabbing some from the Phoenix Library.  Someone cooler than me could probably figure out a more technologically savvy solution, but the CD player was like $3 and the CDs are free to check out so it fulfills my rules for being cheap and easy.  Currently he is loving the Disney songs and story CDs.

These have seriously saved my sanity.  So if you have a kid trying to give up naps, I would definitely suggest giving this a try.  Give yourself a break so you can find your Momvana be the mom you need to be.

Here’s pictures of each bin so you can get your idea juices flowing.  Remember the KISS method (Keep it Simple Stupid!)

One thought on “Quiet Bins AKA Sanity in a box AKA Momvana

  1. Yay sanity boxes! Also for simple rules. Also for getting it done! Way to stick to your cheap rule too. DI is great and I’m glad you kept searching. I had to smile through your thoughts processes and admire your courage to abandon exciting ideas for simplicity and be content with something practical and enough. You totally almost mostly have the bins all themed: dinosaurs, trains, interactive touch feel and move books! Not too full that you or he can’t clean it up easily yet plenty to keep him engaged. So cute, you’re doing awesome! Keep it up!

    I too am really good at making new brilliant rules all the time, and of course due to complexity not always too good at keeping them, but you’ve really locked into something solid here! Also, love your wit and sense of humor / writing style.


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