the_cabanyal_twins guest blog: Lockdown life with twins
Over the past 42 days, we haven't been allowed to leave our home. At all. Spain has had a complete lockdown. We have no outdoor space and a tiny little house (by the beach, which usually makes up for the lack of garden!) Staying in this small space with 20 month old twins, a fat cat and two working parents has been a challenge in some ways but a joy in others. Some of the techniques we've adopted may only prove to be useful in a pandemic situation, so after all this is done I’m doubting that I’ll draw upon those quarantine survival skills again.
But, I think a few things that I’ve learnt will shape my future attitude to play and hopefully may prove to be useful for others who live in a small home, have a small play space or just fancy some new ideas.
A few things to help give a little context. The downstairs space of our home is approx 35m2 and this is where we have spent all day every day. It's an open plan kitchen/living room/dining room. I look at each day as two blocks....the morning block and the afternoon block. I take the day one block at a time.
Repurpose existing areas
We quickly realised that the suntrap corner of the living room by the front door was being wasted as pram storage. So each morning we move the pram in front of the front door (we're not going anywhere!) and we have an extra play space by the window. We have repurposed the shoe rack (again, we don't need shoes...we’re not going anywhere!) to be an accessible toy shelf. I rotate the toys on this every week. They are toys we’ve had for ages, but the twins seem to love that they are still there each morning. I’ve watched how they are building upon previous learning each day and developing their play.
Prolong life of toys
I’ve noticed the toys that the twins love and I try to limit how frequently they go out. Not because I’m completely cruel but I’m trying to think long term and getting the most out of every toy. For example, the twins love their garage. So only put it out every 3 blocks. It's a pain as I have to hide it in the kitchen and step over it constantly but it seems to be working. They are thrilled to see it when I do put it out. I’ve also thought about extensions for toys too. I built a car wash to go with the garage as well as, making a car park on the floor and using road tape to go from the garage to the car wash.
Tidy as you go
I find that once a few toys are out and being used, the space quickly becomes cluttered and no one is doing anything productive. So while they are playing with something else or watching a bit of TV, I try to reassemble the toys, set up new configurations etc to draw the twins back to the same toys that I’ve set up for that block.
Recycle recycle recycle
I’ve kept every last piece of anything! We played with a week's worth of milk cartons, painted on the inside of a paper bag and used a coke bottle to make a sunflower seed container and a funnel for the bath. Making ad hoc toys from things in the recycling bag is a great way to gauge interest in something before you buy the real deal. I made a tinker tray from the bottom of a cardboard box and they love it. It's helped me to realise that it'll be worth investing in a proper one!
I’m doing a weekly toy swap with my friend who lives behind me. We have to clandestinely meet near the recycling bins under the cover of darkness, but it's been a fab way of playing with new toys. Hopefully, when the twins’ toys return, they’ll be thrilled to have these ‘new toys’. Again, it's a great way to see if they are interested in something we’ve borrowed and then adding it to the birthday/Christmas list.
My main takeaway from all of this is that less is more. Lowering expectations and following the twins’ lead. I’ve done a lot of watching them play, as Maria Montesorri would encourage and the telly has definitely been on. And I truly believe there is nothing wrong with that. It's all about finding your own groove and rhythm...and then enjoying it.
Thanks for reading and feel free to follow our lockdown life: a life full of recycled toys, lots of reading, attempts at cooking and twin chatter.