Keeping kids occupied can be a daunting task sometimes. In an era where gadgets and TV programmes grab the attention of kids so easily, activities have to be intentionally put in place so that kids get more than just screen time.
My five-year-old likes to draw on paper but she gets bored of doing that every now and then. We are very blessed to have a lot of toys at home, but I want my kids to be able to do things that I used to do as a kid. I want them to be able to go outdoors and have fun. Yet, outdoors is not always possible.
Being an HDB dweller, I am always seeking ways to keep the kids occupied on days that are warm and the playground is too hot to play at. Given Singapore’s climate, a hot day is pretty much every other day.
When someone gave my daughter, Phoebie, a box of assorted Crayola products, one item caught my attention – coloured chalk. There were four different colours. I started thinking about where I could let Phoebie draw with the chalk. I wanted to make sure it was a place I could clean up after she was done.
Should I let her go downstairs to draw at the playground? Nah. It would mean that I would have carry buckets of water downstairs, something I can’t do when I also have a toddler to look after.
The only other place I could think of was the common corridor outside our flat. At the same time, I was concerned if my neighbours would be okay with us colouring the corridor floor with chalk. It turned out that both families were really cool about it.
Phoebie was drawing outside once and one of our neighbours’ granddaughters came to visit. These girls are about Phoebie’s age, so we invited them to join us. The girls went on to draw flowers and rainbows all over the floor.
It happened that our other neighbours came home as we started to clean up and wash the floor. “Why are you cleaning up? Leave the pictures there. They look so nice,” our neighbour told us. I explained that I wanted Phoebie to learn the importance of being civic-minded and to clean up after herself. But I was really glad to learn that both our neighbours are such understanding people. They knew that I needed a place for my kids to explore and they are okay that I use the common area outside all our homes.
And so it began, my quest to find more coloured chalk for Phoebie. I was very happy when I found a box of 12 colours of Crayola chalk when we were on holiday in Sydney.
When I was planning to go over to my mum’s place, I suddenly remembered my mum had a longer corridor outside her flat, which meant more space for Phoebie to draw.
We played many games of tic-tac-toe,
What I love about letting the kids use chalk to draw on the corridor floor is that the corridor is right outside our home. We can sit right at the front door or bring a chair out and sit at the corridor to supervise the kids while they have fun. This activity can be done when the playground is too hot or too wet (if it rains) to play at. Basically, it is an all-weather activity.
So yes, living in an HDB flag may mean that we have no front yard or back yard, but we have the common corridor where kids can still have fun. Of course, understanding neighbours help a lot too.
“We clean up because the corridor doesn’t belong to us, so we are only borrowing the space when we draw there with our chalks. We must scrub the floor and dry it as much as we can so that our neighbours won’t fall from walking on a wet floor,” I would tell Phoebie.
Speaking of washing the floor, this is also why I love letting her use chalk to draw on the floor. Chalk is easily washed away with water.
After the floor dries, we have a blank canvas that the kids can doodle on again, rain or shine.