So according to my Facebook feed, it’s Earth Day. I hadn’t realized. I’m not involved in any big Earth Day activity or event. Today is just another regular day spent at home taking care of the twins and working (or procrastinating), the usual stuff. However, in honor of Earth Day, I decided to do a round-up of recycled or unexpected baby toys that have amused or are still amusing our twins at one time or another. We don’t have a lot of store-bought toys, partly for economic reasons and partly out of sheer fear of finding space for them, so we make do with stuff found around the house. It saves us money, generates less trash, and almost guarantees that there’s always something new that the twins can explore. Win-win all around.
All mothers I think have at some point discovered and appreciated the entertainment powers of an empty box or piece of crumpled paper, while others have put together various household stuff into something that their kids can play with. This post honors those humble objects.
Ms. Pinky Mask. Ms. Pinky Mask was their first “toy.” Or rather, Ms. Pinky Mask when she was still inside a plastic bag. Newborns don’t really do much of anything in the first few weeks except feed, cry, and poop. They don’t even really start looking at things until a bit later. And we didn’t have a mobile yet then. Ms. Pinky Mask’s bright color and crinkly plastic sound was the first object my twins really started to pay attention to, their heads swiveling towards the sound and their eyes following it as I moved it around. It’s one of those little milestones that made this new mom ridiculously happy, and it came early enough in the game when I was probably still awash in post-partum hormones and leaking breastmilk, and didn’t get to shower as long or maybe even as often as I wanted to. It didn’t really take much to make me happy at that point.
Empty Piknik canister. Empty anything, actually. Empty Mineral water bottle. Empty paper cup. Empty toy boxes. Empty biscuit tins. It’s all fair game. You use up something and then toss the container to the baby (maybe wiping it down with your shirt or even washing it if you’re feeling extra magnanimous) and it will keep her happy for a few minutes (or 30 seconds if it’s not your lucky day).
DIY slot toy using old formula can and mineral water bottle caps. One of the few ideas I got off Pinterest that I was actually able to make, adapting by using stuff lying around the house. Minus, of course, the crafty/creative bent. The real Pinterest moms would go the extra mile and decorate the can with washi tape and stuff.
Probiotics supplement bottle and box. This has been popular for a week or so now, so it’s a good thing that we have several. The paper info thing will go in the box, then the bottle, then they’d shake the whole thing a bit, then take out the bottle, take out the paper, and repeat. It’s amazing how much quiet time I’ve been able to get out of this one.
Wedding buckets and bottle caps. The buckets we used as decoration and container of messages from our wedding guests are now their toys, paired with the caps of the premature-size feeding bottles that they had to use in their first couple of weeks.
Good old-fashioned lampin/burp cloth. Seriously an all-around performer. It has many functional uses, but for play it’s great for instant hide-and-seek/peek-a-boo.
Anything that can be put on top of their heads or my head or whoever’s head that happens to be available. It’s an old trick of my Mom’s. I used to watch her do it for my nieces more than a decade ago, and I watch her do it for my kids now. For all I know she did it for me when I was a baby. She’d balance something on top of her head, intone “Tinda sa bayaaan…” then tip her head causing the thing to topple down, and she’d cry “Ay! Nahulog!” Apparently it’s quite amusing. I’m a lazy mommy so sometimes I make the twins do it, I’d say the “Tinda sa bayan” line and they’d hold a toy on top of their head, then hurl it down themselves when I come to the “Ay!” part. Good times, good times.
Sometimes I do get around to buying real toys, but there’s a different kind of satisfaction at watching the kids play with repurposed stuff. Kuripot na, maka-kalikasan pa! Happy Earth Day 🙂