There are certain parenting moments that are permanently burned into your consciousness.
The first time your baby says your name (or, ahem, your partner's. Thanks for that).
That one time you found them engaged in some beautiful 'creative play' with the $100 worth of brand-new makeup you'd decided to treat yourself with after a particularly soul-stretching week.
Alongside keeping them fed, (relatively) clean and clothed, entertainment takes up one of the biggest slices of the parenting pie. Because kids' imagination and enthusiasm for play is ENDLESS.
My son once told me, upon entering his favourite park, that he was going to 'play so hard he felt like vomiting'. And I think that pretty much sums up the challenge in front of parents - creating experiences that are on par with vomit-inducing, park-based joy. No pressure at all, really.
These are the lessons I've learned over the years about keeping three kids under the age of six entertained (while keeping my own sanity intact - mostly).
1. Structured is great, but the magic happens during the mundane.
With my first child, structured play was my jam.
I could have filled a Pinterest board with the activities I lovingly constructed for him. Because I had the time and a (slightly misguided) idea that that's what was expected of me as a mum (that's a whole other topic for another time).
Don't get me wrong, he enjoyed those activities. But you know what he liked the best? Taking his trucks in the bath because they needed a 'car wash'. Finding a patch of mud in the garden and excavating it with a spoon. Sitting inside the cardboard box I'd bring our fresh fruit and veggies home in and turning it into a car or a cave or a train for his toys.
Fast forward to my second and then third child and let's just say that structured play was out the window. And you know what? My daughters couldn't actually care less. They are the most creative, wild, innovative little people who will make something out of nothing.
The last time we went camping, my youngest spent close to an hour with a mug full of shells we'd collected earlier that day while walking on the beach. I hadn't directed her towards the activity, she'd sought it out and made it her own.
Giving our kids the space to use their imagination and yes, get a teensy bit bored, is often where the magic happens.