Toyology Toys: Tell us a little about yourself.
Rebecca Fry: I am a wife to a wonderful husband and a mom of two boys who are 2 and 5 years old. We also have one baby on the way, who will arrive in October. Our oldest son will start Kindergarten this next year, and I am still coming to terms with how fast he is growing. Up until a year ago, our family lived in Texas, which is where both myself and my husband grew up. I grew up in the Dallas area and my husband is from Houston. Taking a leap of faith, we followed a job opportunity for my husband which led us to Michigan. Even if the winter seemed a little cold and long, we have really fallen in love with our new home. Other than the winter, the biggest adjustment for us has been moving away from our families and leaving behind Tex Mex and Whataburger.
I love psychology and learning about people. And since my undergraduate studies have had a special interest in early childhood development and parenting. When I find the time to read, which is rare these days, I like to sit down with a good educational book and am currently reading “The Art of Holding in Therapy: An Essential Intervention” which takes a look at counseling techniques for postpartum women. Outside of the more academic interests, I enjoy running, singing, playing with my kids, and being outside as often as possible. Our faith is also a big part of our family and I love finding ways to make liturgical living fun for our kids.
Toyology Toys: What is your occupation?
Rebecca: I am currently staying at home full time with our kids. I made the jump to being a stay at home mom when we moved from Texas. Previously, I worked in the field of rehabilitation counseling for four years. My focus area was working with individuals with disabilities in adjustment to disability and establishing employment. While it was a wonderful job, I wanted to be at home full time and am so thankful to have the opportunity to do that now. Though, there are definitely some days I miss being able to take a sick or vacation day and send the boys off to preschool. Staying at home is definitely hard work. Eventually, I plan to get back into counseling, but hope to focus more on women’s wellness and parenting. For now, I am more than happy to stay right where I am.
Toyology Toys: Why are you interested in contributing to Toyology Toys?
Rebecca: The first time I went to a Toyology store I was trying to find a kite for my 5 year old. I had already scoured Target and left frustrated, knowing surely they had to have kites there but I couldn’t find a single employee to point me in the right direction. I looked up local toy shops and decided to give Toyology a try. I instantly loved the environment of the store. It was welcoming, not overwhelming in size, plenty of variety, and not only were associates available, they were eager and excited to help. Despite having a Target across the street from us, I still make the drive to Toyology for birthday party and other gifts.
I started to follow their social media sites and quickly learned that they not only had great in store service, but were putting on events and providing great information about the toys they sold in stores. When I saw the opportunity to become a part of this community, I could not pass up the chance. I love the idea of having parents and other people who are passionate about play contribute to the mission of creating an online community that spills over into the brick and mortar store. The opportunity to make connections and see others’ ideas is invaluable in this often overwhelming parenting journey.
Toyology Toys: What do you love about toys?
Rebecca: There is so much I love about toys. It would be easier to answer what do I not love about toys: how quickly my kids can take them and leave a trail of destruction. But honestly, even the mess is worth it. It tells me that creativity happened here. Toys are an invitation to learn, to grow, to escape, to discover, and to create. They are a catalyst for a connection between an adult and a child. Nothing bridges the gap between the world of an adult and that of a child like a toy. Just watch the “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” scene from Mary Poppins to see what I mean.
“When you send it flyin’ up there
All at once you’re lighter than air
You can dance on the breeze
Over houses and trees
With your first holding tight
To the string of your kite”
Toyology Toys: What does the “power of play” mean to you?
Rebecca: In the early years, play is the best way for kids to learn. I firmly believe it is through play that kids best formulate concepts. And these concepts can be as complex as math, science, and social skills and as simple as animal sounds. I can say “a cow says moo” a hundred times to a toddler, but my kids always learned faster by playing with toy cows while we made it say moo. And for our family, play not only teaches concepts like this, but also makes a way for me to incorporate therapy into our daily routine without it becoming a fight (more on that later).
As kids grow, I think play continues to play an important role in their development. I cannot speak from experience, but from observation and reading, kids are under so much pressure at school. I would expect they would benefit from having the opportunity to decompress through play.
Toyology Toys: What specific topics would you like to contribute to Toyology Toys and the Power of Play?
Rebecca: l place much of my focus on the area of the power of play and toys in implementing at home occupational therapy practice (not to replace occupational therapy or the therapist itself). My oldest son was born with hemiparesis, a form of cerebral palsy. It primarily affects his ability to use his left arm and hand. His muscles on this side of his body are spastic and as a result can be difficult to move and control. Our struggle with working on his left hand has always been that his right hand excels. Asking him to pick up beans with his left hand just was not going to hold his attention. But asking him to build a peg tower using his left hand made therapy a game. Toys are the most practical tools to get him to work on his fine motor skills in both hands. Finding resources as a parent of a child with a disability was hard when he was younger and I hope that I can help add to the other amazing voices out there who are talking about this topic. There is so much we can do from home with the right toys and mindset.
I would also like to talk about implementing very basic Montessori ideas and concepts into the home. My children attended a Montessori school while I was working. We chose Montessori because of its emphasis on hands on activities and experience as well as child led learning. The first few weeks after our move it seemed like our days were dragging and somewhat chaotic. It also seemed like we had hundreds of toys that weren’t being played with. At this point, I began researching ways to implement some very basic Montessori methods and ideas into our home. Building from these, I was able to find new ways to use some of our toys, prune off some of the untouched ones, and purchase a few more quality toys. Suddenly, the days started to go a little smoother.
I also see myself talking about how to make play practical and useful for the parent. Yes, toys are powerful for the growing minds of children, but they are equally powerful for the moms and dads. Having a child who is happy to occupy himself with his toys can mean the difference between a cooked meal and take out. In our house, toys have been a catalyst for less picky eaters, helping with cleaning, and reducing screen time without increasing the need for me to become the entertainment. And like I mentioned before, when a parent and child are having a hard time connecting, which happens as kids find interests of their own, toys can bring us together to create more beautiful memories.
Toyology Toys: Where can people follow you?
Rebecca: I can be followed on Instagram @vrlyfry, on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/rebecca9/, and very occasionally I blog at http://persevereinrunning.blogspot.com/
Rebecca, originally from Texas, migrated to Michigan with her husband and two boys aged 2 and 5 years old. Rebecca is currently a stay-at-home mom but has a background is psychology with a special interest in early childhood development and parenting. She keeps up to date in the latests techniques in both areas whenever she can!