I should admit now that this one is not actually something I have been doing and that’s actually the entire reason why it was a sanity saver.
It’s school holidays, Esme’s got a broken arm courtesy of some play equipment at the park and gravity, and I’m currently in the process of absolutely definitely dying of the flu. So finding something, anything, that the three of them can do together without fighting, playing with water, or turning on the tv, is like the beautiful dawning of a fresh new sun. Or something.
Thus I give you:
Things I’ve been doing to stay sane number 5: washi tape
If you’ve not encountered washi tape – which I hadn’t until shortly before leaving the UK, curse my ignorance – it’s brilliant. It’s papery, often brilliantly and garishly decorated, and it doesn’t rip all the paint off your walls if you use it to secure your child’s art. It’s also great for doing those paintings where you put random strips of tape on paper, paint all over it and then rip the tape off again to make patterns, as it doesn’t just shred the paper as it comes off. I’ve used plain decorator’s tape for this before too – they’re really much the same thing and the advantage of decorator’s tape for this particular activity is that the kids can draw on it.
So, take your kids, take your tape and one room with a large empty floor surface. Ours had carpet but this can work on tiles or wood just as well – as far as I know the tape is safe to use on those surfaces, I’ve never had any problems but maybe test a small piece before going the whole hog, if you’re concerned.
And let them stick the tape to the floor. You can get them started by showing them how to do it or give them ideas about what they might be making with the tape – ie a town with lots of roads or a train track or a beach etc. And then just leave them to it.
Occasionally, add other things. Wooden blocks or empty plastic containers that they can use for making structures.
My lot used magnet tiles (which are freaking AWESOME, by the way, if you’ve not yet had the pleasure.) and added some little plastic and wooden people and some Lottie dolls. Toilet rolls and pipe cleaners became tropical trees.
And they played quite contentedly for about 2 hours without much input from me. I was in the room but they were alone in my presence (to paraphrase from the interminable amounts of lit crit I’ve been reading.) I folded washing and swept floors and even did a little study. I found space to breathe while they made worlds.