Getting creative, being silly and letting your inner kid out does wonders. I speak from experience.
When I first had Mabie in the fog of the newborn stage where the days were mainly made up of, eat sleep poop repeat, I could get away with watching the TV while she fed (I think I manage to complete the whole of Greys Anatomy) and didn't really think much of playing. We did tummy time and she had a play mat that met most of her needs for stimulation and play. Jobs a good'un.
As Mabie got older and she needed more stimulation I tried to get into a play mindset, but I really struggled. I found it hard to get excited about a teddy bears picnic where the cake was fake.....
I had forgotten how to play. Before Mabie I was a pro at being silly and letting my hair down around grown ups but now my days of drunken cartwheels were on hold (probably never to be seen again). I struggled to enjoy playing and being silly with my baby. I found it.... dare I say boring......I was a new mum coming to terms with all the changes that happen with this and trying to my new balance in life with a tiny human by my side. I wanted Mabie to grow up with memories of me enjoying the quality time we had together not me yawning and looking at my watch.
Determined to try and find a way to have fun and enjoy the quality time at home with my now 6 month old daughter I decided to get her some paints. I love arts & crafts and I love painting. It was a game changer. She loved the colours and different textures. She loved the feel of the way the paint squished through her fingers. For the first time, I lost myself in the quality play time with her and we had the loveliest afternoon in the garden playing. She was covered in paint but she and I were in our happy place. This sparked loads of ideas, and I found that the enjoyment I got from painting with Mabie could be transferred to other sensory play and messy play ideas. I then built up to adding in imagination prompts and soon our days were filled with play.
I think what I am trying to say is that if you, like me, are struggling to find your play mindset, do what YOU love with your baby. Find a way to make your passions little one friendly and share it with them. You might find they love it too. If you are still struggling then below are 10 EASY PLAY IDEAS you can try:
1. Sensory Tray with Rice: Super easy to set up but get ready with the hoover as the rice tends to get everywhere. Craw make, shapes, or just enjoy the feel of the rice in your fingers. Little ones love the different sounds they can make.
2. Playscape On the floor: For this you will need a paper roll like the one included in our Arts & Crafts Hamper Roll the paper across the floor and draw out towns and paths ways that little ones can then use cars, dinosaurs or figures to explore. Let them guide the imaginative play and make up their own rules.
3. Potion Making!: Add food colouring to water to create different colours. Let little ones mix the waters to make different colours. Add bioglitter, leaves or floers for even more magic.
4. Clean up the mess...: So often its little ones making the mess but sometimes there is more fun in cleaning the mess than making it. Paint onto a window and let little ones clean it up using a spray bottle of water and a cloth. Mabie likes to dress up as a fireman and pretend to put the fire out as per the video so loads of different ways to use this idea for little ones different interests.
5. Mud in a box: this one is as simple as it sounds and can be as elaborate or as simple as you want. Simply add sticks and mud to a tray and let kids get messy as they dig build and explore the different texture and materials.
6. Messy Play Platter: This is one of our favourites and our Arts & Crafts Hamper has everything you need in it to do it. Simply roll the paper roll across the table and secure with stickers. Sploge the paint in different areas of the paper, scatter the crayons and leave out paint brushes for little ones to go wild with. Let them get as messy as they like making what ever shapes and marks they like. When they are dome simply fold in the messy and take it away.
7. Homemade Bird Feeders: This is great messy play and has lots of sensory benefits but this really is all about the bird watching. all you need is peanut butter a loo roll and some bird seed. Smoother the loo roll in peanut butter and roll in bird seed. Then hang your new bird feeder outside where little ones can see it and watch all the beautiful birds come and enjoy their lunch.
8. Adventure View Finder: Make a simple frame out of cardboard and ask your little ones to spot beautiful and interesting things to frame while out on their walk.
9. Decorating things to personalise your garden: Our Gardening Craft Hamper is perfect for this. Decorate garden decorations and a birds house using our paints and glitter. Then spend time choosing where they go in the garden and see how they fit into nature.
10. Fine Motor Activity: So take a cupcake tray, add small treasures into each well. Our Crayon Friends are perfect for this. Then using washi tape or masking tape, tape over the wells to make a grid. Then guide little ones to cut the tape and free the treasures!