Parental Advice

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Emergency Cupboard

When I was writing the post for today on my other blog I made reference to my "emergency cupboard" and gave a brief description of its contents and use. However, I think it warrants some more information.

When you are a new mum, or even an experienced one for that matter, there are times when you can just do nothing right. Your toddler/young child is perhaps off-colour, brewing up some nice ear infection, or tired or bored or just any of the other things that cause them to be listless, aggravating, impossible to please or divert.

If you have already used up your repertoire of tricks: let's look out of the window and count cars, let's make something in the kitchen, let's build the tallest tower we can with all your bricks .... you know what I mean, then you need the "emergency cupboard"!

Away from prying eyes and fingers, keep a small supply of "new" stuff your child has never seen. They don't have to be big expensive toys, just stuff they have not seen before or are usually allowed to have. Thus I used to keep:
small packets of cheap crayons or coloured pencils,
some cheap, blank paper for scribbling,
one of those magic painting books where you just brush over them with water,
a couple of new story books with bright illustrations,
some small boxed games,
some cheap videos/dvds.
It's also handy to keep some leaflets like the ones Toys R Us send out, together with some scissors, a glue pen and an empty scrapbook.
In the "usually forbidden category" were some very small packets of those coloured sweets which are full of E numbers and things like fizzy strawberry shoelaces - these are desperate times!!

One of the best sources of cheap, "new" toys and games are charity shops. There you can find an endless supply of stuff that other parents have finished with but your child has never seen. Ordinary shops are full of stuff you would never pay good money for but obtained on the cheap, second-hand they provide great value and entertainment.

The trick to using your emergency cupboard wisely is not to go there too often. Think of it as a last resort. If you are forever producing new stuff or sweets etc whenever your child expresses the mere hint of boredom, you are defeating the object of having an "emergency" supply in the first place. The point is that it should be a diverting surprise every time.

You don't need to spend a fortune on it. I have even been known to put in toys and books the children already own but have forgotten about. I try to be strict about just how many toys/games each child has but I admit to being feeble about throwing anything out or passing it on. Thus we have bags of stuff in the loft which I bring out from time to time and the children are engrossed with them once again.

If all else fails and the scrap book/"new" toy/game have been abandoned, get that unseen video/dvd out and curl up on the sofa together. It works every time! Let's face it - what they really want is your undivided attention - this way at least you get a lie-down.


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