Thursday, November 12, 2009

Toys. Who needs them?

I found myself a few months ago justifying the amount of toys we had acquired for Buttercup.
‘Well, she doesn’t go to crèche, so we need to have everything here for her.’
I also eagerly enquired from my friends, ‘What do your little ones do at crèche?’ As if my darling might be missing out on something. Talk about getting it arseways!!

My darlings are not missing out on anything by being home with their mum. In fact being home with their mum is the very best thing for them.
Maybe it was my lack of confidence as a first time mum or seeing that I was in the minority as a SAHM or a bit of both that left me feeling I was poor substitute for ‘professional’ child care.
I was wrong; I am my little girls’ mother, their companion, their guide.

There is nothing Buttercup likes better than to help me. All toys are abandoned in favour of pulling up a chair and helping to make dinner or bake bread. At 20 months she is great at stirring and pouring things into things. I make sure there is always a snack near her so that she’ll quite happily often just suck on an orange piece or munch an apple while watching me make a curry or prepare a stew.
She wants to do real stuff. If I’m making a list it’s the pen she wants to use, she won’t be fobbed off with crayons.
Take the shape sorting box as an example, she looked quizzically at me as I showed her how to drop shapes into the appropriate holes, then she lifted the lid off and demonstrated to silly mummy that it was much easier to put them into the box this way. Then, a few days later she spent most of the day in the garden playing with the padlock for the shed and it’s key, until she finally came over to me holding the lock with the key inserted, and beaming ‘wow.’ Wow indeed.
So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about how we spend our days. We now spend them doing stuff together. When we get up in the morning Buttercup and I make the porridge, she pours everything into the saucepan and stirs it, and then I put it on the ring. Primrose supervises from the sling or her chair. Throughout the day Buttercup loves to bake and prepare meals with me, as I sort the laundry she runs around putting items away in the appropriate drawers. But she’s the boss of her own time and if she gets bored she’ll just wander off and do something else. We often go for a walk if the weather isn’t too horrendous or visit with friends and in the evenings lie about on the floor reading books and drawing. Primrose comes everywhere with us and kicks about at our feet or dozes against me in our stretchy wrap. While Buttercup watches me, Primrose is fascinated by her big sister. The weekends and the evening are particularly special times when we have tgd around too.

There is a nice rhythm to our days now and there isn’t much time for toys. I hope our days will continue to be filled with the wonder of learning and of finding joy in the simple things.

Some books that are influencing my thinking: Teaching Your Own John Holt, Unconditional Parenting Alfie Kohn, The Continuum Concept Jean Leidhoff

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  1. I love this post and I quite agree. Who need toys anyway?! And television for the matter?!

    If you do ever decide that you need to look at pre-school childcare, perhaps you should look into Steiner education. I think there is a Steiner Kindergarten near you. Check out for more information and a list of Steiner education in Ireland.

    I am currently in the process of starting one up in Limerick, if you know anyone that might be interested?

  2. Thanks Claire, Best of luck with the school start up. The Kingdom of Childhood by Steiner is next on my reading list!!!

  3. Thanks for the reminder... I often get caught up with DS1 in doing things I know he can (like helping making, stiring, sorting etc) and forget that it is now time to make sure DD2 gets equal opportunities!

    Right, off to chop carrots now... maybe I'll wait a little longer before I let the kiddies help with that:)

  4. What could be better or more natural than Mama n Buttercup working and learning together on a daily basis.
    Being together isnt just about learning skills, its about family bonding and building a strong positive relationship that can last a lifetime between parent and child.

    Afterall, in no time at all Buttercup will be off to school learning new skills and developing new relationships (as comes naturally to children) which can enhance those early years if natural understanding and strong bonds have already been made between Mamma n Buttercup.

    Children who are enabled to find their own entertainment rather than being constantly entertained by others, are less likely to become easily bored and in need of constant stimulation IMHO. :D

    Keep on keeping on...X