Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pretend play

There has been so much recent media coverage and public interest in the benefits of play for children's mental and emotional development. And the noncontroversial conclusion is this: idle, creative, unstructured, free play where a child engages all of her five sense in a three-dimensional world (by definition this excludes tv and online games), is a critical part of neurological growth and development. The temptation to overschedule one's child is strong for the modern parent because for most of us, our lives pre-children were on the fast-track to some goal (career or otherwise), meals eaten on the run or in the car, blackberries or pdas full of events, meetings, conferences, dinners, etc. So I could literally hear the brakes screeching and resisting when I had to slow down the clip clop pace of my life to the point where I had to be content just allowing the girls play. Every fiber of my being resists because I love schedules and plans and checklists and something tangible to hold up at the end of the day to show that my existence is not in vain. But of course the task of raising children bears no noticeable short term result (aside from their very survival day to day). And neither does the task of playing. But ever since I read this book and this one , I've become convinced that aside from being a loving and responsive mother, there is nothing more I can do for my young children then let them engage in open-ended play. And if that play involves princess dress-up...

...then I can slap together a princess dress-up corner. The mirror took 3 Ikea trips to score. The peg board was painted by K and myself with Benjamin Moore's newest line of zero VOC paint (Natura. love it! only needed one coat! and dried in under an hour.). The tree is inspired by a wallpaper tree I found online for - no joke - $119.95. I ended up spending $8.00 for 2 sheets of gift wrap that was used for the tree itself and $0 for the fabric scrap which makes up the leaves. Is there anything I love more than dirt cheap DIYs (aside from God and my family and dark chocolate and cheese and an really amazing bottle of Burgundy. oh and a night out with the girls where we drink lots of good champagne while dining on mussels. ah and catching a story on NPR that is so quirky and inspiring that it makes you laugh out loud out of the sheer joy you feel in knowing that the human spirit is indeed the most colorful and indestructible forces in the universe.)??? I digress. Cheap but pretty DIYs makes my world go round.

My only regret is that I didn't get a picture of K's face when she woke up one morning, came downstairs, and saw all of this. But she uses it daily and even more importantly, has finally acquired the habit of organizing and hanging up all her princess paraphernalia. I know. PRICELESS.

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