Simple invitations to play
There is a lot of talk around at the moment about simplicity, mindfulness, decluttering and minimalism. As most people with small children, I too, long for a more streamlined home with less stuff. Children these days are prone to overwhelm and anxiety. Families in the modern western world are materially richer than ever before, but time and space poor. Getting rather philosophical here… so what does this have to do with the blog?
Rather than feel the pressure to be constantly buying new toys or forking out for expensive days out, one way I’ve found to keep children engaged and busy is by creating ‘Invitations to play’ for them to discover. These are simple activities which the children can do on their own or with an adult in the room, but are open ended and have no specific intended outcome. They are also very useful for times when going out is not an easy option, due to illness, potty training or bad weather.
Montessori nurseries often use a tray or a mat for children to contain or frame the activity. For a while we used a low children’s table, or a low bookshelf, now we just use the kitchen table or tuff tray. Sometimes Little objects to this- the phrase; “No activities, Mum!” has been known. If so, fine, I leave it out but don’t put any pressure on doing it, and 9 times out of 10 he will return to it later.
Big is currently home from school for the summer holidays and I’ve been surprised by how keen he is to join in, too. Again, often when the pressure is off and he doesn’t realise anyone is watching, he will join in an activity for a significant length of time, completely independently. He can only do this, though, if there are resources and stimuli available to him…
So, for the foreseeable future, I will not live in a minimalist cube. But, the boys can create, and I will enjoy the time I spend making little invitations for them.
Have you ever set up simple activities like this? How did it work with your children?