one man’s trash…

DSC05690We had an unexpected visitor drop by for a chat the other day to discuss some body corporate matters.

We don’t normally have visitors and to say that our house was untidy would be an understatement. As my mother said many, many times when we were growing up, ‘it looked like a bomb had gone off’.

Generally I ignore the mess. The adage ‘cleaning with kids is like shovelling snow in a blizzard’ is one that comes to mind several hundreds times a day. I’ve got better things to do.

But as I noticed this man (who doesn’t have children of his own) gaze around the room I suddenly saw our chaos through someone else’s eyes.

Now he was too polite to say anything, but I could tell by the look on his face that he saw a house strewn with garbage. Derelict might have come to mind. And that is certainly one valid interpretation. But of course, we’ve learned to see things a little differently:

* The empty and partially squashed Vita-Brits box is a tunnel for the matchbox cars or a barn for the farm animals.

* The empty baking paper roll makes a great trumpet.

* The empty box is a rocket ship / a car / a storage box / a mountain / a slippery dip / a ramp for cars / a seat / a table / something to scribble on…

* The pile of rocks are endlessly entertaining, I don’t know why. Even the kid next door goes straight to the rocks when he visits as the little fella states proudly ‘MY ROCKS!’, slapping his chest like Tarzan.

* The spring-less kitchen tongs on the ground are for carrying and redistributing said rocks, usually into the empty ice cream container lying under the coffee table – good for learning manual dexterity.

* The planks of wood and other offcuts are car roads and ramps.

* The empty milk and yoghurt containers are great for sand and water play (along with the make shift soda water bottle funnel left lying in the garden).

* The torn up scraps of junk mail are left over from our collage making.

* The old oven mitt becomes ‘the claw’ good for tickles and challenging manual dexterity (have you tried picking up small things with an oven mitt on?)

* The coins scattered across the room are supposed to go in the money tin – another favourite activity, good for dexterity.

* The stuffed toys everywhere are the cat’s. I have yet to teach the cat how to put his toys away.

Yes it’s mess and technically it’s mostly rubbish that ‘regular’ people might put straight in the bin. To us, it offers a world of endless possibility, creativity and play. For free.

P.S The ‘tree’ next to the cocoa box ramp in the photo above is leftover from a bunch of grapes, stuck in a little play dough. The ramp is a box cut on an angle in half lengthwise, reinforced with a little masking tape. It makes quite an effective car ramp! Some kids websites talk about creating play scenes. This can be done without spending a lot of money.

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  1. Emma Gulmour says

    I love this. And I must admit my son has more fun coming to play at your home then he does at our house with mountain of toys I’ve spent so much money on I always use to think I needed to buy him lots of toys to keep him happy and entertained I wish I had or known home made free toys were the way to go!

  2. Gina says

    My initial response when i read this article was ewwww – clean it up! But then I remembered, when I was a kid my mom moved our bunk beds into the living room and put up a few sheets to separate it. We also had a big plywood table with slot cars set up, and I am pretty sure looking back, that it must have looked like a mess to any outsider. But it was more important to her that the kids have someplace to play, that we feel comfortable in the house, and she didn’t care what people thought. HAVE FUN and PLAY! That is what the kids will remember. Who cares what the neighbor thinks!

  3. Rachel says

    You have your priorities SO RIGHT !!!

    We have boxes, tubes, and I laughed at the rocks, we have those too, who as an adult can see the true apeal, who cares. They are so full of possibilities. :)

  4. Michelle says

    I used to work in childcare, and almost everything the kids in my groups created were made out of recycled items. Even at home I would rather my kids re-use items where possible. My oldest daughter had this thing for a rock collection my mum had collected for her when she was a pre-schooler. She spent hours counting, making patterns and rock creatures. These days my twins can’t wait to get their hands on the most recent breakfast cereal box to turn it into something more exciting. I am a big recycler and I get upset if recycled items are put in the normal rubbish bin. Kids need to be kids, have fun, and use their imagination with whatever is at hand. They need to be creating fun memories that they can look back on with fondness, as childhood is too short in my opinion. So what if it is creating some mess, it can always be cleaned up later.


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