Today I had my friends daughter (and one of toddler P’s besties) over for the day. She’s a sweet, fun loving 5 year old that always makes me feel warm and fuzzy. She’s easy to please and entertain so the terrible weather forecast didn’t deter me from having 2 girls to keep occupied for the day. In fact, having the two of them together is brilliant, my friend loves that I’m doing her a favour and helping her out with school holiday childcare when actually she’s doing me a favour in providing me with in house toddler entertainment!

Today’s antics reminded me of how we need to let our children be little, we need to let them enjoy being children and take pleasure out of the simplest of things.

The morning started with a baking session and neither one of them wanted anything too fancy, they were more than happy to take it in turn mixing and watching the parts they couldn’t do it. Who knew that some cookie mixture and a wooden spoon could bring so much joy!! However, note to self, a 5 year old can tell the difference between raisins and dried cranberries and will make sure you are well informed of said difference…several times…throughout the day…don’t try to fool school girl A again Aunty L!!

We’ve also played hide and seek, chase around the house, dancing in the kitchen, jumping on foam squares. We did races in garden, drawing and colouring with crayons and hours of uninterrupted play dough time!

Everything was simple, it didn’t require lots of money, preparation or clean up. It just needed a spot of enthusiasm, attention and imagination from me, which then fuelled theirs and we were good to go. This reminded me that I don’t need to go to great lengths or expense to keep my girl happy. Today she’s followed her friend around like a shadow, copying her every move and watching me intently as I introduced a new activity. The amount of squealing, screaming and running that came from them as I barely even took a step towards them but just shouted “right” in preparation for the next round of chase, would’ve rang loudly across the whole town! They loved it as did I.

It’s this simple play that lets them be kids, it lets them be little. They’ve pretend cooked me strawberry cake, jam cake, sweeties and ice cream burgers, ok little Miss P just followed suit as the dutiful youngest looking up to her older friend, but so she should, like I said, let her be little. The point is, my (not-by-blood) niece was developing her imagination, humour and social skills (all of which she has in abundance anyway) and toddler P was witnessing, copying and absorbing it all like a sponge at the same time.

During a dry spell, both girls went out to play in the garden, I loved watching them through the kitchen window and open patio doors. They were exploring, picking flowers, chattering away, attempting to climb a tree, swinging on the lowest branch and generally rolling around in their own world, blissfully unaware of my beady eyes watching them. I could’ve gone out and directed their play a bit more but I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I let them form their own fun, they were more than happy to and actually put out when I spotted the black cloud and called them in before the rain started again.

Sometimes the simplest things are under estimated, one of my daughter’s favourite pastimes is good old fashioned nursery rhyme singing with actions, tickles and giggles. She loves drawing, a pack of crayons and paper keeps her happy for ages and who knew how much entertainment throwing an empty cardboard box for her to sit in could provide. Painting provides messy fun, she also loves to be given a baby wipe using it to clean anything within her reach, the carpet, kitchen bin and my face included (in that order too!).

A couple of my friends laugh at me and call me mental because I’ve invested in a tuff tray for messy play, “that’s why she goes to a childminder,” laughed one and another said, “you’ve a hell of a lot more patience than me” and “my OCD is going crazy right now” was another chuckle! And after our first few plays with dyed rice, cold pasta and jelly I have questioned my sanity! However, I’ve also reassured myself, kids are meant to be messy, they are meant to climb and explore and sometimes bump and scrape themselves. Don’t get me wrong I agree a watchful eye needs to be there to prevent any nasty injuries but my little girl is developing proper little girl legs, with small grazes etc from her escapades. Her clothes become filthy, she fills her shoes with sand and despite a morning brush and style her hair ends up looking like she’s been dragged through a hedge backwards! When I fuss and worry over these things, I keep trying to remind myself that she’s being little and that I need to let her be little. That this mess, exploring, loud noises and questioning is her being little.

It’s also very handy that there’s a tidy up song she sings with the childminder…exploring and learning is also about learning to clean up your mess!

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