This is an advertorial post with IKEA.
One of the things that really surprised me as a parent of school aged children, and still does with every passing year, is just how difficult it can be going back to school after the Summer- for them and for me. I suppose I always imagined the build up would be the hardest part – the dreaded uniform shop, buying school shoes, labelling clothes and trying to get as organised as possible for the morning rush – but actually it turns out that side of things was just the beginning.
I think all of us have struggled to get back into a routine, missing the freedom of Summer, the late nights and the long lie-ins, and most of all just having that time together at the end of each day without homework to do, books to read and projects to make out of empty cardboard boxes and washing up bottles! As much as I support and encourage my children with their school work, I also think that kids should be kids and so, for that reason, when they come home from school each day I make sure there is time for them to relax, wind down, and just play.
When it comes to play IKEA has it covered with an amazing range of toys to suit all ages. My favourite thing about the IKEA toy range is that it doesn’t cost the earth, unlike many toys these days, and each item really encourages children to use their imaginations. The LÅTSAS 12 piece shopping basket set costs just £7 and not only do you get a lovely little shopping basket which is perfect for imaginative play, but 12 food items to go inside. The girls love to use old cardboard boxes to create a shop, taking it in turns to be the shopper or the cashier, in just the same way I did at that age.
This year, more than ever, I make sure that the children have time to play together as with Eva now in the juniors she no longer gets to share her playtime with Harry and Megan. It’s been a big change for the three of them and I did wonder how it would affect the dynamics of their relationship but, when they come home from school and set up shop, it’s clear to see that nothing at all has changed between them.
For those who are joining the war against plastic, and we as a family are certainly cutting down on our use of plastic massively, the shopping basket is such a great choice. Made entirely from 100% polyester there is no plastic to be seen and, even better when it comes to young children, you can throw them in the washing machine and even the dryer, to make sure they stay as clean and germ free as possible!
Of course no shop is complete without a till and the DUKTIG toy cash register is such a lovely wooden toy with wooden and plastic parts that actually runs on solar cells so there is no need for batteries which is always a bonus!
With a fully functional calculator and a digital display it’s a fantastic way of learning through play, something I am a huge advocate of. I would much prefer the children to learn this way as opposed to sitting at the table doing maths homework and, at the end of the day, they are building on their maths skills without even realising.
Megan is currently learning about money at school and playing shop is such a great way to familiarise children with coins and their value, as well as working out addition, subtraction and counting too.
I think that listening to the children play together is one of my favourite things about being a parent. You can’t beat hearing the sound of their laughter after a long day in school, the ways in which they act our their different roles through imaginative play, and the funny things they say when they aren’t aware I’m listening.
As well as playing shop the girls love nothing more than a tea party and we’ve loved setting up their own little tea shop in their bedroom of late. Combining the DUKTIG 10 piece coffee set (RRP £6) with the DUKTIG plates and bowls (RRP £6) you can create a gorgeous 22 piece tea set for just £12 that really does last.
With mini tea and coffee cups, café latte mugs, and even a sugar bowl and jug, the set comes in a range of gorgeous colours which really appeal to kids. Often the children rush in through the door, dump their bags and shoes in the hall way, and are up the stairs hosting a tea party before I’ve even had the chance to take my coat off. And I love that they know they have something fun to look forward to at the end of the day and, although we are back in the routine of school again, the fun doesn’t have to stop from Monday to Friday.
IKEA also makes sure that there are always guests for the children’s tea parties and, with a range of soft toys, the girls love serving up their Siberian husky dog a cheese roll and their golden retriever a hot café latte, dogs are very sophisticated these days apparently! And I love that, on the days the children do come home from school feeling a little over whelmed, or just utterly exhausted as they adjust to the new routine, they find it hugely comforting to come home and snuggle up with their toys and just relax before bed.
It’s always interesting to see the ways in which children use their toys to create new ways to play switching from tea parties to a coffee shops, staging picnics to serving school dinners, and every day is always so different. Most of all I love when they play at being Mummy’s and I hear all of the phrases and things I tell them echoed back at me, including telling them to eat all of their sandwich or they won’t get any pudding!
But most of all I love that, although the children may be little more tired right now, and although they may face pressures in school to hit their targets and get the best results, when they are back at home they can still be the same care-free children I saw throughout the Summer, just enjoying their childhoods, using their imaginations, and doing what they love best – having fun!