31 May, 2012

Taking Back The Living Room

We didn't expect to have a nice, tidy, toyless lounge at this point, but it had got ridiculous. The corner of the room earmarked for toy storage was full-to-overflowing and toys were (even in 'tidy-mode') on all surfaces in all parts of the room, smothering it like those parasitic vines that cover trees and suffocate them of their tasteful decor, calmness and ability to sit-down comfortably.
It came to a head when, in a discussion about taking toys she'd grown out of to the charity shop (because there was no space for them), our daughter looked around the room and said "But there's space there" [gestures with both hands towards the small piece of floor between the sofa and the telly]

Time for a change...

Our little boy recently got big enough to start sleeping in the bottom of the bunk bed. I'd taken his cot-bed out of their room and given it to friends. And into that space we moved the toy cabinet and 95% of the play-shrapnel that had been covering what was once a living room where adults could sit in the evening without being reminded of the film Big.

It was surprisingly liberating. And, added bonus, having more things to do in their bedroom when they wake up buys us a little bit of lie-in time on the weekends before they both slip out of their room, climb silently onto our bed and jump heavily onto our sleeping, unprotected bodies. (My default sleep-position has evolved into a lying-down version of the footballer-in-a-defensive-wall pose.)

Alongside ground-floor-reclamation, there's been a couple of other nice developments recently:
  • Our little girl has started putting clothes on herself, which reduces dressing-related time/stress by 33% in the mornings (I've still got to clothe my trouser-repellent little boy and *heavy sigh* myself... recent optimistic google search: "buy Wallace & Gromit-style auto-dressing machine")
  • The kids are able to clean up after themselves a bit. Even our little boy, when he spills milk on the floor - if passed some kitchen roll - will do a pretty effective job of wiping it up, then go and put it in the bin. Brilliant. (Is 2 too young to start teaching a child to mow a lawn?)
  • My little girl makes me laugh in ways beyond just-being-really-cute. We were walking by the Thames in Putney early one Sunday and Boris Johnson was there preparing to do some filming. We walked right by him and I said to her, "That man there is the mayor of London!". She looked at him, turned back to me, shook her had and softly said, "No. I don't think so."
  • They play together really nicely, which is great because - while I really love playing with them - it's nice to have the occasional minute on the evenings & weekends when I can move away to do something without being whined at for neglecting my duties as a ballet-student/pirate/bear-hunter/Justin Bieber
  • They're starting to show an interest in sports. My little girl even expressing retrospective disappointment that I didn't take her with me to watch Huddersfield in the League One play-off final last weekend... I'm savouring her current enthusiasm, as I'm pretty sure it'll be gone about 17 minutes into the first Town game I take her to watch

While the kids certainly aren't perfect (they frequently whine if I won't carry them; often have toilet-accidents; and are prone to dissolving when immersed in mercury), things have started to feel a bit easier recently. To the point where, after resolving toymageddon, I did even catch myself thinking "Well. Isn't this lovely? It's like the end of an episode of Quantum Leap where everything's fallen nicely into place. And things will probably just keep getting easier from here..."

Then my little girl ran into the room naked, jumped onto the sofa and gyrated around while singing "I'm sexy and I know it" over and over again.

Oh boy...

Learned Wisdoms
#40: You'll be excited when your little girl enjoys doing karaoke with you on the playstation. Even more so when she graduates off the Disney disc onto the chart versions. Then less so when she latches onto Aqua's Barbie Girl and sings it repeatedly, i) because there's some pretty negative messages in there that may detract from her learning that a woman is not dependent upon anyone else to make her feel good about herself, that self-esteem comes not from others but from within, and that the pursuit of social acceptance should never drive us into degrading situations; and ii) because it's shite

#41: If your kids' increasing ability to do things for themselves is conflicting with carry-both-children-up-the-stairs-to-the-child-minder's-flat-every-morning being the cornerstone of your exercise regime, then recognise that the 'as they get gradually bigger, I'll get gradually stronger' logic doesn't actually seem to hold anyway (as your gradually more achy spine and gradually more clicky elbows will testify)