More sunshine, less whine

Sunshine and the great outdoors are the allies of the exhausted parent.

Armed with a double shot almond milk latte, in a huge mug, the lads and I began carrying supplies out to the deck for a morning of mess and imagination. Because when you are outside, mess can wait, and it does not agitate.

 

Whilst my lads age range might mean that compatibility in play is sometimes elusive, there are some things that just win every time, like sensory play.  We have used rainbow rice, cloud dough,  play dough and water play again and again over many years (new batches of course!!).  These are simple, low or no cost activities that I enjoy as much as my kids do.  It is really important to know what you enjoy in terms of play as a parent. Yes, we play things that we don’t particularly enjoy, because the kids want us to join in. But when we find things we enjoy as much as they do, the play is different. And we can all feel the difference.

 

So this morning, we played with cloud dough, play dough and rice with plastic animals and duplo. And afterwards, those animals really needed a bath.

We brought the dolls house and peg dolls I made outside, and Asher showing Tobias how to create an avalanche of animals down the staircase.  

Then we made some necklaces with our animals. “More,  more, more” resulted in Tobias wearing a zoo.

 

 

Not one complaint. No bickering. No fussing. It really isn’t rocket science; kids (big and small) need to be outside.

 

And does the fact that there are things strewn across the deck concern me? Not one iota. But if this same mess was inside, I would be finding it very hard to leave the activities out for much longer.  The lads will go in and out all day, and these things will be utilised in endless ways, as their imagination leads.

Oh, and I got to have my coffee while it was hot.  And we filled the neighbourhood with bubbles. Everyone’s a winner.


Playground therapy – thanks for listening

Cruising around the blogosphere and I stumbled across a daily prompt posts. The prompt was to write an ode to a playground. Didn’t that create an onslaught of trippy memories for me?

How do you write an ode to a place where a horse once bit you? Or where you would sit and watch in horror (maybe it was awe at the time?!) as the older girls from two doors around come to the park, not to swing on the tyre with me, but to fossick for the filthy cigarette butts all over the ground. They then sat there and smoked them, generally getting maybe one drag out of each if they were lucky. Was it worth it Mary-Anne and Kerry-Anne? (They were sisters and I did not make those names up.)

Then there was the time when I was invited to the school grounds to play after school by my good friend. Well, I should clarify. She was everyone’s “good friend”, because we were all too scared of her for her to be anything less.

Once I got there, she was with another “good friend” of mine. Apparently her idea of a play date was to set the two of us onto each other like dogs. A ‘fight to the death’ kind of play date; gladiator style. When I said I wasn’t interested in having a rumble, I was given a choice: I was to fight the less frightening of the two, or I would be attacked by my ”good friend”. This was some “play” at the park.  The memory of that day is etched in my mind (and nose) forever. Only now, it is actually funny.

As an adult, I have broken my nose at a playground on a long slide whilst on a work excursion with some teenagers. Blood again, lots of it, everywhere. I went to the fish market nearby, where there are hundreds of kilograms of ice and asked for some to ease my suffering. They said no. Nice, hey? I did not feel bad for one second that I left a trail of blood through their eatery.

Thankfully, playgrounds are much nicer places for me these days with my lads.  I must admit though, there are still dangers  lurking at these seemingly harmless venues; parents who would rather watch their device than their children, graffiti that can provoke the most interesting discussions with little people, and toilets that belong in nightmares.

I wonder what the word ‘playground’ conjures up in your mind?

Treehouse Bandits

The lads enjoyed some treehouse trickery today, setting up secret traps and learning the art of Sharpie graffiti. They were having so much fun I climbed up to join them with my study. I enjoyed their company far too much to have a productive study session, mind you.
I think I will sneak some time in there next week whilst the lads are at school and set a few “traps” (aka surprises!) up of my own.

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Shadows

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Shadows

We have had a few sheets of black cardboard Matt bought home from school last year that are a bit damaged from being used as backdrops for displays. Tonight as we were looking through a Science experiment book from the Library, we stumbled across this and I remembered the cardboard.
It was the first ever shadow sketch experience for the lads, and we got to turn the lights out and use their Lego man torch, which of course made the whole process so much more fun! They were amazed when we cut their silhouette out. We now have beautiful, frugal, simple art in the play room.

My 1980s stencil quest

I am reminiscing tonight about the things I used to do as a child, brought on by the sheer dismay I feel whenever I go searching for gifts for children- especially my own! Asher turns 6 next week, which is altogether confronting to me. That is another blog. We won’t go there tonight.

I hate just getting run-of-the-mill gifts. Lego is a must of course, but beyond that, I really struggle. I love to foster their imagination and creativity with their gifts. I search online and go to the “different” toy stores in pursuit of the ultimate play thing! But you know what, at the end of the day, it is not about the stuff. I know this, yet I still search.

I found an article online tonight that made me smile. I came across it whilst I was hunting for a retro set of Disney stencils that I used to adore when I was a little girl. Stencilling was great fun, was it not? I don’t mean the straightforward stencils, you find these days, but the progressive ones, where you had to line things up and move the stencil along to complete your picture. I really want to get some great quality, age appropriate stencils for the lads, and struggling to find them. But I digress… back to the article!

http://www.weekendnotes.com.au/old-school-activities-for-kids/

Old school activities for kids:

Hopscotch – we love this. We play under the carport every now and then, and tonight, Asher actually asked me to make hopscotch pudding for dessert. How could I refuse? That is just too cute!!!

Four square – I lived and breathed this game as a kid! We grew up playing the neighbourhood kids most nights after school and on weekends. We were very serious and competitive, but what a ball we had! (No pun intended).

Stencils – I have said enough, but seriously, if you know the Disney stencils from the 1980s I am referring to, please let me know!!! We share a bond!!!!!

Tea parties – These don’t happen too often around here, but MasterChef sessions do. Matt’s mum made the boys a whole range of knitted foods and Ash still enjoys these on his mini wooden kitchen.

There are more listed in the link, and I will share some more of my fave old school activities soon. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you about your favourite childhood games/activities or the things you have reinvented with your own children!

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Fort Frenzy

We are fast approaching the end of our first week of school holidays. They always go so fast! The weather is crazy; cold and gusty, but altogether cosy indoors, so what did we decide to do today? Why, we let our inner architect out to play and created an indoor fort, of course!

We used sheets, clamps, pegs and rope and the lads have been in there ever since, reading, watching ‘Spy Kids’ and making frequent requests for food. Their Dad is in there with them, showing no signs of coming out of this boy cave anytime soon… I have a feeling this may stay for a while.

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I am here, under this pile of books and papers…

I have been somewhat MIA. University studies are proving to be more consuming than I anticpated (!!). With family and work, I have felt that my creative side starving and losing energy. I am truly grieving this and know that I must continue to pursue the creative life, keep feeding it, so that it gains strength and momentum in my life once more, despite academia, work and the everyday things that simply must be done.

So today, even though I have papers that must be done and readings that are piling higher than the sky (well, almost) I decided to enjoy the creativity that was going on around me. Matt and the lads jumped onto www.allfortheboys.com and were captivated by the Spy Week activities. I, however, felt ripped off. Here they were, doing the fun things that I have always loved to set up for them, WITHOUT MY ASSISTANCE!

This is a good thing, right?

Hmmmm…

Anyway, I had a friend ask me what I was doing tonight. I said I couldn’t play because I had to study. Then I got the guilts. I felt like a bad friend. So I contacted her and made her banana bread. She is about to arrive any minute. You see, I get obsessed with things and I forget that life is made up of MANY wonderful things – I just lose sight of them sometimes. It is hard to see (and breathe) under a pile of books, papers and highlighter pens. I get fixated, I go over and over and over sentences trying to get them “just right”. But the words of my ever wise husband ring in my ears…”You do not have the luxury of perfectionism this time. Not with a family and a job and uni.” He is right. I can do my best, but I must remember that boundaries are a good thing, they actually help me to suceed in ALL areas, rather than sacrificing some to succeed in others. Like my creativity.

So, it is here that I am reminded again that getting top grades (which, by the way, I rather like!) is not the goal of my year. The goal is to be balanced, whilst finishing my degree. I can finish it, even without a long line of High Distinctions. Credits, or even a Pass (GASP!) will still get me to the goal.

And here I was thinking that my few years of slowing things down reprogrammed my driven nature. Let’s try this again, shall we?

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