When A came along we never wanted to have a house or garden full of oversized toys. In a Victorian terrace there’s not much room for it, and it wouldn’t fit with our (T’s) minimalist tendencies (I challenge you to find so much as an exposed wire anywhere in our home!).
Instead the toys we have are on the small side, artfully concealed when not in use in under-seat storage and on hidden shelves. We make regular trips back and forth to local charity shops with things A has outgrown, or grown bored of, and pick up a few things from there in return; teaching her about reuse, giving, and sharing.
We also try to make creative fun with the every day – painting and crafts are regularly on the agenda, and cardboard boxes provide hours of fun as dens, cars, boats or beds for toys. We try to capture A’s imagination with adult tasks – she loves to ‘do jobs’ with daddy, to cook with mamadoo and help sort and tidy the food shopping or washing; learning new words and skills as she goes.
So when our outbound neighbours thoughtfully asked if we would like their old wooden playhouse when they left, we hesitated; before gratefully accepting; because at least if it’s wood it won’t dominate our tiny patch of decking, and the inevitable scooters, bikes and balls will have to go somewhere. After an epic haul over the garden fence, a good wash and a fresh lick of cheerful paint (good old Cuprinol shed paint), A was on the property ladder, and our new scooter store served us very well until…
T used some off cuts of wood to build a small bench. Then I spied a decorative birdhouse to cheer up the front. And over time our playhouse refurbishment is becoming more than a bike store, but a small outlet for my inner hoarder – a place to indulge a craving for a few twee and vintage finds, and also to find homes for the trinkets and artworks our 2 year old is accumulating.
It’s still a work in progress, but now boasting a small wooden hob with utensils (£5 in the hospice shop), soft furnishings and family pictures, A’s playhouse looks a lot more loved, and indeed is more loved. A will often spend a wee while there showing her toys how to make lunch, or organising her ‘treasures’. “Come sit me in my house” she will invite me, and in I squeeze whilst she holds court.
We haven’t figured out where we will hide the scooters now.