“Children cannot bounce of the walls if we take the walls away.” ~Erin K. Kenny
A few weeks ago, I wrote about our family’s balance between busy scheduled days and slow days when we let boredom really soak in so that real passions and interests can emerge. After several weeks of jam-packed scheduled days at camps and classes, I was so happy to welcome back a slower paced life.
With that came Big Brother’s 6th birthday which was a time of being with family and enjoying new birthday presents. But just as we were a few days away from his birthday party (scheduled a week after his actual birthday), a rather unfortunate tragedy hit. We had the great misfortune of battling lice with the entire family. I know, your head just itches thinking about it, right? I never had lice as a kid so this was all new for me and let me tell you, it’s the worst. The process of eradicating lice is tedious, stressful, and exhausting. Not to mention slightly embarrassing, lonely, and isolating given that no one wants you around with those cooties and the mere mention of lice makes everyone recoil in horror.
So with our itchy heads hung low, we had to postpone the birthday party and we spent much of the week cooped up in our house avoiding friends and fun outings to protect others from the unforgiving bugs. These days stretched out forever and it forced us to really settle into that beauty of boredom to find new entertainment and joy. The boys did okay most days with a collection of new birthday treasures to entertain them, but as the days rolled on, I could tell that they could use a little strewing. I turned to the ever reliable Pinterest to help find some fun ideas (because as a mama battling a bit of sleep deprivation with Baby Girl nursing all night, my own creative juices are low). After the completion of our new patio, I was eager to get them outside with their play. I wanted the activities to be simple, free or cheap, and using materials we already had around. I tried a little bit of everything and I think we found a few winners that we’ll keep in our collection of play.
Of all our new activities, this one was probably enjoyed the most and occupied the most time. With just a plastic box filled with water & animal figures placed in the freezer overnight we eaisly produced a solid block of frozen animals that needed to be “rescued”. The boys were equipted with spray bottles filled with warm water, a few chosen tools, and the hot summer sun and they went to work. They found so much joy with each animal that was released from the frozen block. After all the animals were out, they even found the simple pleasure of just playing with the leftover ice from kicking to smashing (as boys often do).
Piggy backing off the frozen animals activity, the spray bottles became the hot new toy. On these hot summer days, they just enjoy the pure fun of soaking one another. I really enjoyed some of the other spontaneous play that came from these from using the water spray as a paint brush on the fence or stone to target practice and contests for who could spray the farthest from the porch. And of course, with my gun obsessed boys, their mini trampoline became a Star Wars ship as they battled bad guys.
This is proof that simple pleasures are the best. A friend of mine had created a backyard Jenga set for her son last summer that was such a hit with the kids. After having some work done on our back patio and stairs there were several scrap pieces of wood lying around so I asked our handyman to cut them into smaller pieces for us. The boys and I spent some time sanding them and discovered this activity in itself was surprisingly a calming and meditative way to pass the time. We still have not worked our way through sanding the entire collection of blocks, but every now and then we’ll work on one or two until we complete them all.
A few days later I scored some bigger logs through my local Buy Nothing group to add to our collection. The boys loved building and making roads and cities and whatever else inspired them. The possibilities are absolutely endless.
We spent a couple of days collecting our empty seltzer bottles and once we had reached six bottles, they transformed into bowling pins. Once again our wooden blocks came into play as they served as our bowling lanes. And they were off!
Washing and Drying Laundry
In the Waldorf playgroup that Big Brother attends, they have lots of chores to busy their hands. One of the more charming chores is the hanging of “laundry”. With a bucket of soapy water and some old washcloths, the boys got to work cleaning, squeezing and hanging their washcloths. On these hot days, any chance to play with a cool bucket of water is welcome and for Little One especially, it helped him to focus and work on those fine motor skills as he hung his washcloths on the laundry line.
Tree Root Fairy House Construction
My boys have had a healthy obsession with fairies for quite some time now. We’ve built many fairy houses in the past and toured fairy houses others have made. In their minds, the fairies can be quite mischievous because they are often to blame for wrong doings. Who spilt this cup of water? Oh, Mama, I think the fairies did it. Who left this mess out? It must have been the fairies, Mama. Those naughty little fairies. The boys are also really into the idea of creating a very inviting space for these fairies to live. We happen to have a massive maple tree in the back yard with large, cavernous type roots with so many nooks and crannies perfect for a fairy home. The boys are constantly working on, adding to, and planning the improvement of their fairy houses from ladders to climb to their own personal swimming pools.
I have to say, there is a dirty little secret with these Pinterest perfect activities. I would introduce the activity and the interest level to play with these objects and activities the way I had actually envisioned lasted maybe 10-15 minutes (with the exception of the frozen animals). After that point, they found their own magic with them from clothespins turning into claws to our plastic bottle bowling pins being tossed around in the air. And that is the best part to me, that’s when their imagination really starts to run free.