Aidan and I play all day long but there is one particular part of the day that gets us both pretty excited. After watching his favourite show on ABC2 “Mr Maker” (think along the lines of “Art Attack”) we try and recreate whatever he did that day. If I don’t have the supplies we still pull out the paints, the pencils, the playdough or anything that is really messy. I’ve been inspired by Our Play Space over at Childhood101 lately and thought I’d share a few of Aidan’s favourite places in our house that let his creative juices flow.
We don’t live in a big house, my lens just gives a very generous interpretation of space so utilising the space we do have and keeping our living areas uncluttered is very important. I’m very proud that I’ve been able to keep the house looking like this for over a month now, I’ve found my groove and have an established cleaning routine, so does Aidan and Steve which helps. I took this photo in the far corner of the room, to the left is the hallways which leads to the all the bedrooms and bathroom. Ahead you can see a walkway which leads to laundry and entrance which is just through the kitchen. To the right you can see the dining area and another walkway into the kitchen which up until a month ago had baby gates installed, you can still catch me attempting to open them (even though theres nothing there) when I’m rushing about and flustered.
We’re lucky in that our living area is filled with great big windows so the whole area is constantly filled with light all day long, it’s where Aidan and I find ourselves spending 80% of our time at home during the day. That meant that it had to be very user friendly, adaptable and easy to clean.
I tried incorporating toy tubs into our living area when Aidan was a baby and as he grew he accumulated more stuff and the tubs overflowed so I bought more tubs and then eventually they were taking up every corner of the house, encroaching on walkways and becoming annoying. Now there is one tub in our lounge room and every morning it’s empty, as the day goes on when Aidan is asked to pick up his toys (that travel down from his room) he puts them in the tub. Ten minutes before his shower each night he picks up any remaining toys and drags the tub down to his room and puts the toys back on his toy shelf where they belong, then he jumps in the shower with Steve and I take the tub back to the lounge room. It’s been two weeks and the process so far has been a success.
Steve and I bought this poster from Aldi when I was pregnant and it was only when I did an epic clear out of his room that I found it rolled up and stashed safely behind piles of junk. Now it lives in the dining area next to the kitchen door. Every morning before breakfast Steve and Aidan talk about the weather (Steve is genuinely fascinated by weather) and say what month and day it is and the date. I cut up bits of craft foam and used blu tak to attach them to the poster. Every day Aidan moves the green rectangle to the right day/month and the green circle to the right date. If the green circle lands on a date which has a yellow triangle he knows it’s a school day. He’ll be starting swimming lessons soon so I’ll put another marker up for those as well. I think the poster cost $5 and I’ve seen them in Aldi since but not recently.
In the corner is the art area and has “Doodle Draws” (ref: Mr Maker) and his easel, a gift from Grandma and Grandpa at Christmas. It has a whiteboard and blackboard and both sides are magnetic, there is also a paper roll on top which is super handy. The draws are filled with bits and pieces I’ve collected and a few things I’ve bought recently in the ‘back to school’ sales. Top draw has pencils, crayons, twisty crayons, textas, glitter glue, glitter shakers, every type of glue imaginable, sticky tape, sticky dots and scissors. The second draw is filled to the brim with paint, I’d forgotten I had so much from my old crafty days.
The third draw has paint brushes, painting rollers, painting stamps and texturisers, a splat mat and recycled styrofoam trays I collect from the fruit shop to be used as painting palettes… sometimes to make boats. The fourth draw is filled with craft paper, foam shapes, feathers, pipe cleaners, paddle pop sticks, bottle caps etc. The last draw is where I keep all Aidan’s play dough stuff. On top is a sketchpad which we use for all his drawing, I like it because they are all kept together and the paper is thicker. I always keep empty containers on hand and the empty tissue box is waiting to be turned into a truck or a house.
I’m also a fan of using scrapbooking paper as it’s thick, often textured and you can pick up pads of different card stock really cheap, I get mine (I usually get plain/metallic/pastel/bright) from BigW for under $20. I think they make paintings pop and Aidan likes picking which colour to use. When we’re ready to dry our art I simply use pegs and hang them from the venetian blinds but anything I fear will drip gets hung up outside.
This is where it all happens, this is where cities made of blocks and duplo are built, where tickle fights take place, where we dance, where we hang out and watch tv and it’s where Aidan has his breakfast and lunch. Want to know how I’ve managed to keep a beige rug clean with a toddler… vigilant spot cleaning.
I’m so glad I bought this little table and chair set from Toys R Us (even though Aidan could barely walk at the time) because I haven’t seen anything as nice or affordable since. I was nervous about having a white table but I threw rational thought and cautious thinking to the wind but as time passed I got more and more irritated by each little mark that was left on it so I went to Bunnings and bought a metre of plastic glitter table cloth for $12, bought a pack of furniture tacks from BigW for $3 and with a few tap-taps of my hammer his little table had a sparkly new protective, wipe clean cover. He keeps his piggy bank on it as well as yet another Aldi weather calendar and a little vintage clock and abacus. He’ll sit there winding the hands of the clock, counting the numbers and counting the clicking beads. On the entertainment unit is yet another piggy bank, his dinosaur box that I made him and his tray of puzzles.
Picture me curled up on the couch next to the coffee table with my laptop leaning on the arm rest, that’s where I am right now as I type up this post. Let it be known that I hate this couch, absolutely everything about it. I’m hoping that one day soon Aidan will accidentally jump on an armrest and snap it in half so I can justify buying a new one. Something Aidan does like jumping on is his dragon from bop along buddies which I picked up at the Sydney Baby & Toddler Expo last year, the best $30 I spent as it’s given him loads of entertainment.
Isn’t he cute in his little bow tie, a prop left over from some blogging events last year that Aidan felt was too special to leave in the prop box. Under the coffee table is his big tub of Duplo, I tried to keep it in his room but we used it everyday so it just made sense to store it in easy reach so that Aidan can pull it out and play with it whenever he likes.
Just in case you’re interested, this is my little play space.
Aidan loves his tech too and he’s gotten more out of the iPad2 than I ever could so it now belongs to him. It’s kept in a simple yet sturdy folder case case from JB HiFi and the large stylus I picked up on ebay. Aidan uses a lot of Apps that require him to trace letters in order to unlock games or videos and this has been really helpful in getting him used to writing with a pencil, getting him away from using his fingertip for everything. He still writes on paper with a pencil but ‘personal’ technology will be a huge part of his life and considered a skill in his generation, we have no problem with Aidan using devices but they are all locked, the apps are specifically selected and he’d be lucky to use them for more than half an hour a day. His headphones are brilliant, the perfect size for his little head. His iPhone3 is my old phone that broke and can no longer make calls but the apps still work as does the camera. Steve bought a heavy duty Otterbox case for it so it survives the odd tantrum or being dropped whilst getting out of the car.
For the last few months I’ve been slowly incorporating small cooking activities into our daily routine. Before we took the baby gates out of the kitchen I gutted the cupboards and draws, I wanted to make sure that the majority of things he could reach were safe. We started letting Aidan into kitchen, teaching him what was safe and what was dangerous. Then the gates were taken off and all we could do was hope that what we taught him had sunk in. He puts his dishes in the sink, his rubbish in the bin, makes sandwiches and helps me cook.
This is Aidan’s space in the kitchen, we practice chopping, pouring, spreading, rolling and mixing. Sometimes we could be making something special like cookies or cupcakes but mostly he helps with whatever has to be done like helping me make coco pops or toast for breakfast, a cheese sandwich or noodles for lunch or spagetti or burritos for dinner. It’s become such a regular part of life that being in the kitchen is no longer a novelty and he’s learnt from watching me, which areas are safe and which ones he should avoid. His little hands are too weak to open the fridge at this point and all the food in the house is stored up high so I don’t have to worry about him just walking in and helping himself.
I’ve already shared his room and the bathroom which is a hive of activity at the moment and in another post I’ll share our outdoor areas which get a work out every afternoon. I appologise for the length of my posts recently but hopefully the photos are descriptive enough to give you an idea if you only have a few moments. I think I’ve held back about Aidan for so long that it’s all bursting out of me, begging to posted. I’ll try and break down future posts but for now I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know the Mumma side of me a little bit more.
Where is your child’s favourite place to play at home?