I'd mentioned previously how I'd bought a whole load of arts and crafts goodies to keep Nel away from screens and keeping busy, on days where she wasn't in the garden. I'd mentioned my fears that she wouldn't really care for it. Well, so far...that's pretty accurate.
When the lockdown was imminent, I went on to Instagram, and manically followed a bunch of "Insta-Mums". If you're a mum, you'll know the sorts; the women with the big, beautiful houses, that are somehow pristine and white; not a thing out of place. Inside are toddlers, who are all playing together angelically, maybe even with paint. The paint's not getting anywhere it shouldn't, and (even more unbelievably) the mum doesn't look tired or disheveled in the slightest. The Username on Instagram is something annoyingly perfect and catchy, such as "Play At Home Mummy".
Incidentally, I later saw a pretty accurate Tweet, from poet Holly McNish, which wonderfully sums up these people...
Yeah, so I followed a bunch of these for ideas, bought the various cheap materials, and began this lock-in thinking I was one of these women (minus the garage, porch, larder or toy room). How WILDLY inaccurate could I have been?
The first "fun game" which I'd seen online, was to put raisins in a Tupperware box, then loop elastic bands over said box, so they formed a grid. The idea was for Nel to navigate her hands through the elastic bands, and get herself a raisin. The Play At Home Mummy (PAHM) had promised that this would not only be fun for my baby, however, would also help aid her fine motor skills whilst she's at it. It wasn't to be though, as Nel, clearly realising her fine motor skills did't need any work, just flipped the box upside down, gave it a shake, let all the raisins fall on the floor, tossed the box aside, and ate her raisins like normal. (Yes, off the floor, I don't care). I'm going to go with the idea that she outsmarted PAHM.
The next game was colour sorting. I think I may have touched on this a few posts back...this was attempt number 2. I bought two packets of cheap buttons from The Ranger, one red packet, one blue. I mixed them together, and gave Nel two empty boxes. I put one red button in one box, and one blue button in another. She copied me at first, saying "red" for the red buttons, and "blue" for the blue ones. She squealed with delight, I had visions of being some sort of Maria von Trapp / child-whisperer extraordinaire. Until of course about one minute later, when she thought, "this is a bullshit" and instead, launched the entire box of buttons all over the living room floor, scattering under furniture and under the fireplace. And you know what...I can't even blame her. That game IS bullshit, I wouldn't want to do it either. There were a few other bullshit activities, including chia seed sensory trays (WTF is that and sorry HOW middle class of me using CHIA SEEDS for fun and not eating them?!)
I was going to also do some crap with balloons, I can't even remember what it was I'd seen online now. Anyway, she basically found the packet, and insisted adamantly that Sam and I blow up the entire packet.
Every. Single. Fucking. Balloon. So we did. Have you ever tried to argue with a toddler holding a packet of balloons? No? Me neither.
So 15 minutes later, our entire living room resembled a child's birthday party. Scattered with an array of balloons; Nel waddling round in her scarf, coat, nappy and no trousers, absolutely living her best life. Sam and I waving goodbye to memories of how we'd dreamt of buying our first house together, and all the nice shit we were going to fill it with.
Needless to say, once she'd gone to bed, I sat downstairs with a steak knife popping them all, and whilst Sam poured me a gin and tonic.