Originally Posted by Vermillion
Eta: Oh, and I'm basically broke! lol If I had more $$$ I'd have ALL sorts of wonderfully enriching ideas! haha
I was lucky to have models in my community who continually reminded me not to pine for what we were missing (due to our remoteness, lack of community resources, isolation, financial constraints or whatever) but to milk every drop of value out of what we did have at our disposal. Daily life may be mundane to you, but it's all new to a 2-year-old! Imagine the world through your child's eyes and you'll likely find an incredible wealth of opportunities. Folding laundry, pairing up socks, sweeping the kitchen floor, shaking rice and dried lentils in tupperware containers, banging on pots like they're drums, tapping everything in the house with a little wooden stick to see what each thing sounds like, talking, singing, dancing, listening to audio stories, building forts, digging in the dirt at the park, collecting leaves, picking up garbage on the way to the corner store, doing crayon-rubbings of braille on the elevator panel, helping mix up muffin batter, counting stop signs, measuring things, visiting an elderly friend or relative at the nursing home, helping pack up a box of Christmas gifts to put in the mail, playing in the kitchen sink with dish-soap bubbles, taking a picnic snack in the car and driving out to a construction site or railway yard to watch things happen, going to the library. It's all awesome stuff to a preschooler.
I had one snow-bound winter I was without a vehicle most of the time with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old in a small isolated house. I wanted to get the kids outside, but there seemed to be nowhere to go and little to do with them at those ages. Eventually we came up with a tradition of "Going Noticing." We'd just walk about a hundred yards from our house and sit down in a special little clear spot and drink warm milk out of a thermos and my 3-year-old and I would talk about what we noticed around us. Was the snow deeper or crustier? Were the branches weighed down with ice or snow? Were there any tracks on the ground? We'd notice all the cedar frond debris that fell since we were last there, or how the snow melted a little faster around the dark tree trunks. What did the clouds look like? What's that squeaky sound? Is your nose runny? Do your fingers feel hot or cold today? If we stop moving and talking, how quiet is it? If we lived in a city the equivalent probably would have been people-watching, imagining the stories of the people we saw, trying to guess things about them and their lives. Delightful stuff, easy to do daily, and completely free.
A very wise friend of mine told me once that she believed the best playground for a child was "a hole and a hill." She had watched her child thrive for hours, day after day, year after year, with nothing more in the yard than a pile of dirt and the hole it had come out of. It was a magnet in the neighbourhood... kids built civilizations, dams, ramps, lakes, rivers, tracks for matchbox cars, made mud, sculpted things, jumped, slid, ran, rolled, hid, scooped, dug, buried ... while in a neighbouring community parents were desperately trying to raise $15,000 to update play equipment at a park. My friend kept saying, "For fifty bucks they could get a bobcat to do half an our of excavation and they could have a Hill and a Hole, and those kids would all be happy for years."
Happy but dirty, I suppose.
Anyway, I think the point I'm trying to make is that you don't need money to give a child a rich life provided you're able to spend time with him where you're not weighed down by your own stresses and anxieties. You may not have a lot at your disposal, but try to figure out what you do have, dig up little-known possibilities in your community, think outside the box, and take full, creative advantage of them. Look at the world through your child's eyes and you'll probably find a lot of possibilities you hadn't imagined.