Planning A City, with PetitCollage.

When I am not wishing for world travel and winning the lottery, I wish for someone to invent a toy vending machine for the home. It would be a stylish piece of furniture, preferably mid-century modern, and would only release a toy when the old one is deposited back! I imagine the phrase, “so now can you put that one back please?” forever disappear from my vocabulary. And I might go dizzy with my new-found free time! Jokes aside, let me assure you that as much as I cringe at the uncontrollable toy sprawl by the end of the day, I am not mean about it to my kids. I know that my grown-up sensibility to keep things clean is in exact opposition to children’s need to be unrestrained, free, and chaotic for creativity and fun. Another concept that hasn’t caught on in our home is the idea of a designated playroom. In fact, the moment we designate a space for play, they immediately spend the least amount of time there.

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Last weekend, Asha and Arjun did something they haven’t done before. After pulling out all their toys from the playroom and bringing it to the living room, they decided it was time to build a city! The idea might have sprouted from the Pop-out And Play sets I got for them from PetitCollage. Each set had sturdy cardboard pieces that can be linked together to form free-standing buildings. And if you follow my Instagram (@theantibland) then you know we have one deluxe set and another for the city of Paris; which meant I wanted to be part of their fun as well.

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Do any of you ever find that playing such games, or doing a particular puzzle with your kids, takes extra control in not telling them where to put things!? I got so invested in their little city that I had to try to resist telling them where things should go. In the end, they did a fabulous job of having houses, school, park with a dinosaur sculptor, trains, public transit, hospital, and of course all the essential landmarks of Paris including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, and the Louvre.

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It was so much fun seeing their little brains working. Asha is learning about construction in her class right now, so of course, she had a whole bunch of new things to add, including why they should wear hard hats (which we only had firemen hats but that was okay too). When done, the city remained nameless, and in direct path of the kitchen, dining, and living rooms for most of the day … not that it bothered me you know, but next time I’ll remember to plan better.

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For me, toys is the other four letter word sometimes, and I will forever wish that kids could just use their imagination to make play with boxes and sticks! BUT that’s not really fair of me, is it! Seeing my little city planners was a good reminder that not all toys are something to cringe over! And heck, I loved playing with it too!

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PetitCollage has been kind enough to offer a special 20% off for Antibland readers during the holiday season with the code antibland at checkoutI hope that if you are in the market for toys this holiday season, that you consider their offerings that include not just pop-out and play sets, but also magnetic dress-up sets, floor puzzles, and cute wall-prints.

The things that I appreciated as a mama is that these toys weren’t bulky and plasticky, that they easily incorporated with the toys we already have like train sets, and megnatiles. They also store easily and I imagine traveling with them will be fun too since they don’t take up too much space! My holiday fantasy would be watching grandparents and cousins huddled over, building a new city together, and not asking to watch TV every 5 minutes! I’ll keep you posted on how that goes! = )

I would love to hear your stories about toys and what your kids like to play these days! I would also appreciate any feedback on how you feel about such product partnerships in the future. Do you find value in my sharing the items and experiences that we enjoy as a family and rely on often? Please know that they will always be my honest opinions and not governed by free products, of which this was not in case you are wondering.

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer and a mother of three from Raleigh, NC. She writes for national and local publications about lifestyle, travel, books, and of course, motherhood! Her most current project involves illustrating and publishing a children’s Hindi book. When not adventuring with her family in the minivan, you can find her riding the streets of Raleigh on her beloved bike Linus.

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