Loose Parts

I always thought I was being a lazy mom when I let my kids play with our household trash.

Paper towel rolls, tissue paper from packages, empty milk jugs -- before items end up in the garbage can, they often end up in the playroom.

It turns out I am not lazy. I am on the cutting edge of parenting.

“Loose parts” is a term I just learned from my children’s childcare facility. Teachers were requesting items for loose parts play and the wish list looked like an inventory of the junk drawer in my kitchen.
String or twine, plastic bottle caps, fabric scraps, buttons and feathers. The list included many more items, including rocks, twigs, leaves and acorns.

Essentially, any kind of materials that can be combined, repurposed, put together or taken apart are candidates for loose parts play.

There are no directions or instruction manual for loose parts play. The possibilities are only limited by the child’s imagination.

After a year of a structured school curriculum, I was ecstatic to learn that my 7-year-would be experiencing this method of play during her summer camp. The word “loose” is exactly what our kids need: more free, easy-going, open-ended time.

I know my kid needs a break from rigidity and step-by-step instructions by the time May rolls around.

It may look strange to give my daughter a bucket full of random household and nature items, but what I’m really giving her is freedom. Freedom to decide what those items will be used for and what direction she wants her play to go.

Any parent who has experienced Christmas morning with young children knows- the box is often more interesting to the child than the toy it contained. So instead of something from the store, fill a box with some loose parts from the backyard or the recycling bin and watch what happens.

This picture of CeCe playing with a paper towel tube is 7 years old, but it gets my point across.  


Family Photo Win

You may recall from a previous post that our 2017 family photos did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. It was kind of a hot mess.

But because my kids are growing so fast, and because moms never seem to end up in candid photos, I am committed to taking these professional pictures annually. So we set a date, a location, and asked our kids to keep it together for at least a few minutes.

This year, I had plenty to be excited about:

  • Gorgeous weather and beautiful backdrop. The Arboretum in Lexington is a treasure and we love to explore the gardens there.
  • Matching outfits. Oh yes, the girls all had matching dresses and the boys synced up their clothing too. The best part was when we finished the photos and walked around the Arboretum, people thought we were just narcissists who dressed our children to be carbon copies of us.
  • Purple hair. CeCe was rewarded with "fun hair" for the summer and opted for purple streaks. I obviously joined her because moms can have fun too!
  • Cooperative children. With the exceptions of some glowering from Gwen, my kids kept their smiles shining for almost an hour of picture-taking.

CeCe had a complete 180-attitude change from last year. Instead of hiding under a tree and sobbing, she came ready for her close-up. She swiped my red lipstick on, packed a purse with snacks and toys for her siblings and struck poses when asked.

The changes in my kids in just 12 short months is overwhelming to me. Day by day, each one is a little taller, a little stronger, knows a few more words, and has a few more (or less) teeth.

Here are some of my favorites:

Who Needs Google When You Have a Dad?

My 7-year-old can drive us crazy asking questions.
“How does an airplane stay in the sky?”
“How big can a shark grow?”
“How long would it take to walk to France?” 
But I recently realized that I don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to asking parents too many questions. My text message history with my dad looks something like this:
"Hi Dad. How should I cook scallops?”
“Just wondering, how often do I really need an oil change?”
“Hey Daddy, will you please review my taxes and make sure I did this right?”
I’m 30 years old but whenever I have a problem or a question about life skills, my first instinct is still to ask my dad. I’m aware that I could Google most everything I need to know. YouTube tutorial videos exist for just about anything you can think of. 
But I will never trust Google more than I do my dad.
A few weeks ago I was hashing out a problem with a home repair and I whined to my father, “Just tell me what to do!”
He laughed and said, “I’ll never tell you what to do. But I can tell you what I would do.”
That is why I keep going back to him. He doesn’t butt in with advice but gives it freely when I ask for it. My parents crafted the perfect blend of being supportive without being pushy. Because of that, they will always be my first call when a problem pops up. 
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. Thank you for always answering my questions.