Tuesday 11 November 2014

The Great Indoors

Welcome to the November 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Indoor Play This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared ideas and inspiration to keep families happy and healthy while cooped up indoors.

Just 8 weeks postpartum, I cleverly broke my foot and wound up equipped with a cast and crutches for the next 3 weeks. After that I was able to hobble around a bit, and life got easier, but for those 3 weeks, the sofa was my world. Mine and my little munchkins'.

My husband would set me up in the morning with a flask, snacks, litre after litre of water, a nappy changing kit and a Moses basket, which until then our little'un had barely looked at.
Although small, our munchkin has never been one for staying still, or fond of repetitive activity, and for a few weeks I worked my brain hard to come up with ever more ingenious things to do on a sofa - climbing, parachuting, and pirate ships were all tried, as was spaceships and flying. We did a lot of reading in the obligatory 'voices', and played with various household objects each day, because everyone knows that they're much more interesting than toys. We folded laundry for long periods of time, hiding under it, twiddling different fabrics, looking at colours and patterns, and being hedgehogs under laundry leaves. (Yes, I know she was only small, and yes, it's true that some of these activities were more for my benefit.)

It was challenging. Very challenging at times. It was also the moment in parenthood when I first (repeat FIRST) got the 'I can't cope' wobbles. It did, however, set me up for creative cabin fever.
Sadly, now that the weather has turned, we can't just go outside and eat grass for amusement. Although this is a shame, it gives us an opportunity to try some more creative play, and, at the moment, we generally have to try to involve standing or walking in most activities.
We have therefore begun to practice yoga together. I was doing the odd bit when she was napping or had gone to bed for the evening, having no core left to speak of postpartum. However, a friend at Waterbabies, 8 month old Kamikaze Princess (her parents' name for her, not ours) was showing off her Downward Dog last week and I thought 'Why not?!'.

We have been doing 20 minutes a day for a week now (after 15 minutes she starts to get bored and I wind up practice) and so far it's quite successful. Mostly she climbs up whatever limbs I have touching the floor at the time. We play peekaboo in Cat / Cow, and Downward Dog. We do horse back rides when I'm in Cobra. And the nice calming breathing and stretching we start with, including a bit of twisting and some side bends, is inexplicably hilarious. I can't see her joining the Kamikaze Princess in any actual postures any time soon, but we have fun and I get a bit of a stretch and strengthen - which I'm in dire need of.

Some of our other favourite activities involve a brief foray into the windy, rainy or chilly outside armed with effective clothing and a cheerful inner vibe (essential), whilst carrying the promise of a hot Ribina on our return - for me. (That said, we've been ridiculously lucky with the weather at the moment, to the point where I'm getting a bit narky not to be covering myself top to toe in ever more chunky knitwear.)

We recently gathered pinecones from our local wood, and once dried out, we had masses of fun dipping them in bright paint, tying them with string and suspending them along munchkin's wall at varying heights.

OK, I'm lying. That was what happened in my head. I think that, for older mini folk, this would work well. But for us, I must admit, it didn't go quite to plan. To begin with, threading the cotton strings was more fiddly than hoped and, with hindsight, should have been done in Blue Peter style - 'and here's one I prepared earlier...'

I then made the catastrophic error of placing munchkin in her highchair sans food. Yes, you heard me - without edible yummies. Big mistake. She wasted no time at all in telling me that this simply was not acceptable and demanded food NOW. I tried to appease her with a yoghurt pot of paint to dip her pinecones in. She was uninterested. I moved the pot, popped to lay out some greaseproof paper to put the cones on and heard her delighted giggles behind me - a drastic change from the previous noises of outrage. I turned around again to see that her arms are longer than thought. Yellow paint everywhere, she was decorating her highchair, the tablecloth (oilcloth thankfully) and herself.
This is the moment I gave in, squirted extra paint on the table and put a few sheets of paper down to catch her creative thumps. We have an original piece on our fridge door now - the first of many, I'm sure.

I'm undeterred though - the art-attacks have worked outside, surely they'll work indoors??! - and in another month I'm going to give it another go. Probably stripped down, in the bathroom, with smaller pots of paint and without the string, but I'm confident that dipping pinecones into brightly coloured poster paint can't just be something I love - and with her obsession with colours, it's surely just a matter of finding the right atmosphere!

My munchkin getting her artist on:


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon November 11 with all the carnival links.)


  1. You are a trooper! But at least the paint was contained to the high chair ;) I really love the idea of painted pine cones, I'm keeping that one in my back pocket for a winter day!

  2. Lovely post! I haven't done yoga in a long while and your reminder of how lovely it can be was very welcome :-) I really need to get more exercise into my life. Hmm...

    As to the art messiness I have to say that when your little one is pretty little being philosophical about the mess is definitely the way to go. Well done on keeping it zen calm! :-)

  3. Thanks for commenting, both! I agreed entirely with your post's comments about steering clear of the prints and glue etc when in a less then patient mood, Marija - I have definitely had moments when, prep all done, I realise I'm probably not in the right frame of mind!

    Dionna, if you have success with the pinecones, I'd love to hear/see the result! I'm positive they'd look fab :)

  4. You totally made me laugh. I often have pictures in my head of how things like yoga with children or a charming craft will go, and the reality is always much more interesting. Love that last picture, too!

    1. Thanks, Lauren, I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds that the reality is far from the pictures in my head!!

  5. You make me want to set my toddler loose with a few pots of paint! Well, not really. Not at all, actually, but maybe on the balcony...? Love your post! I'm tempted to start practicing yoga again. Maybe my son is old enough now that he might actually try some postures with me. :)

  6. I'd definitely encourage you to give the yoga a go, Holly - I'd never have thought to try it with my munchkin before it was suggested to me, and my little one is far from a yogi, (saying that, neither am I!) but as long as she's having fun at my expense I think we're fine to keep going!! As she gets bigger I might try to create stories with the postures - the warrior poses could be fun with the right cardboard accompaniments :)