Back in the olden days when budget was less of a problem and my house hadn’t actually exploded with stuff, we would often occupy ourselves with a trip into town, which was within walking distance back then and peruse the lovely retail opportunities it offered. We normally had a reason to go to town in the first place (often SHOES!) but the way home tended to be sweetened with a little bit of retail therapy and there were few better places to end up than The Works, which was conveniently positioned on the way home.
This had a number of benefits:-
- Nothing about my coercion in the behaviour stakes looked like I was going to renege on it, so whinging and pleading was reduced during the trip with the promised land still on the horizon.
- Sometimes they fell asleep in the pushchair on the way home and then I had a bona fide excuse for not being separated from my cash.
- If I accidentally indulged in heavy things, the amount of time spent lugging them was much reduced.
- There was ALWAYS something inexpensive to bribe them with that could be bought, enjoyed and then got rid of quite quickly afterwards.
When we started home educating though, The Works took on a whole new meaning.
- Stationery. It’s the perfect place to buy cheap and cheerful pads, pens and colouring pencils in the quantities that young children who have a wild need to ‘mark make’ require. I would stock up and then leave them to wolf their way through paper in their own time and without constraint. Drawings, scribbles, games of hangman, join the dots… holidays with a crate packed full of value paper pads and pencils that would only last the holiday. Perfect.
- Books. Books for all sorts of reasons. Books to read fiction, often in handy boxed sets or so cheap we tried something new, books about random topics we didn’t know were interesting. Books were full of fabulous pictures to inspire us or intrigue us or flick through for a few weeks until it got too dog-eared to keep. Baby books to pop in a bag for a long car trip, knowing they’d possibly be lost, trampled or chewed by the baby before we got home again but at £1 a time, not too disastrous to lose. If you can buy at half price, it feels a risk worth taking and the range was always different and changing.
- Posters. We had a lot of time in rented houses where walls had to be kept pristine (ha!) and tastes changed frequently. Home ed is always better with a poster or something about the current information obsession up on the wall so their laminated posters would often be on the backs of door or hung on sliders from hooks.
- Arts & Crafts. Back in the days before I had a business selling this sort of stuff, we’d often stock up on ‘bits and bobs’ to stick and glue and collage with. With a well stocked art department, I could buy a bundle of brushes, paint and canvases, books with ideas in, paint by numbers kits, playdough without spending anything like a fortune and grab and afternoon of peace while they ‘did art’. Christmas was often well served by the ‘upstairs’ of our store too – while Max thanked the stars I couldn’t go up there with a pushchair
- Books again – art books. When I was going through my most Montessori/Charlotte Mason phase I tried very hard to expose the girls to lots of art. I had loved books of postcards of famous art as a teen but they seemed to have fallen out of production. We made a few sets of famous painting cards by buying cheap art history books and cutting them up to have a pack of easy to view paintings. Both those educational methods advocate having the full information, so we stuck the pictures on to plain card and wrote date, artist name, painting name and style on the back.
This post is in association with The Works.