When my baby was first born people commented all the time about how babies like the wrapping better than the gift inside. We made lots of jokes about how we could just wrap up and empty box and my daughter would be just as happy.

Little did we know just how true this common point is. Even now, at 18 months of age, my daughter spends much more time playing with empty boxes, old magazines and a crusty dishcloth than she does on toys. Toys tend to get a few minutes of attention and then they’re abandoned with little care. An empty jam jar with a few clothes pegs inside, however, can provide an hour of entertainment though.

My daughter loves emptying shells out of an ice-cream container then putting them back in again. She likes putting pasta shapes into a margarine dish with a hole cut out of the lid. She enjoys moving beads from one dish to another using a big spoon.

Likewise, the great outdoors provide many more hours of fun than anything I can provide indoors. There is so much to do outside: picking flowers; playing in the mud; splashing through a puddle; chasing the cat (much to the cat’s horror!); throwing a ball around; putting sand in a bucket – and out again; tearing bark off a tree; climbing, climbing, climbing.

Indoors I have a great little helper. Dusting, wiping, sweeping and handing me the dirty clothes to put in the washing machine are way more interesting than toys too.

It seems children are more geared towards making their way in the ‘real world’ than we sometimes give them credit for. Toys are great, and provide fantastic educational opporunities as well as some fun – but real life is just so much more exciting. It’s so nice to see happiness gained out of the things I deem chores. If only I could enjoy unpacking the dishwasher or cleaning up spills as much as my daughter does.

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