The Constant Gardener/ Mudhouse Mansion

We were mindful that some of the principles of having a smallholding (as a therapeutic tool for traumatised adopted children) was about how routines and movements could soothe stress. Pushing and pulling, swinging and spinning, seeing and smell, taste, touch and hearing are the essence of why animals and crops are important. People aren’t always aware they crave these sensations, but they are often driven subconsciously to seek these experiences out.


Its interesting how D has already started to use these at the farm, now he comes most weekends. We bought a cheap, old school push lawn mower to keep the paths and tracks down, given our Flymo flex won’t stretch very far, and our land is a long 3 acre finger. Soon as he saw it, D loved the mower and spent hours pushing it around. We laughed to ourselves, and referred to him as the “Constant Gardener” because he was still doing it in the dark! He used to do this pushing thing as soon as he started walking, often shoving a large toy truck literally miles through woods and fields on our frequent walks. He would be very intersted in the wheels as he did this. It has reminded us of all the above, and we want to develop this principle by finding other things he can push or pull. I have even thought about lending scrum machine from the local rugby club.

Sensory, hands on experiences are also vital. We had always planned a “mud bath”  and so got on with making a basic one the other day. As usual with us, time and planning were limited and what we prepared was smaller and less intentional than we wanted, but it was a start, and also an experiment.  The children love water and mud, and we have always encouraged this. I have blogged before that our children were the only children who went into the woods in wetsuits, which spooked a number of dog walkers, but “wisdom is proved right by her children”. So we let them loose with the hosepipe and one of our overgrown raised beds.

The kids got stuck in, but we let them use some of Mimi’s “Bratz” and “Monster High” dolls in the mud bath, which was a bad decision as the play turned ghoulish about burying the dolls and hurting them (which is sometimes a reoccurring theme in their free play- bad endings, no rescue, etc) Its like they go into sensory overload. That can happen with all good sensory experiences. Its really frustrating, because you end up monitoring a living souffle kind of thing. Too soon to stop? Too long? Careful or it will collapse! Gaaah!! I was aware how tense I was the whole time, thinking of how I would get them into the shower without making the house look like it had been hit by a Tsunami, and how I would control any over excited situation, and how I didn’t want get wet or dirty. I know I have to be ready to get stuck in and dirty, and theres a disconnect. Im processing this as well.

But hey, you can tweak all your plans and experiments, can’t you? Next time there will be no dolls, and I hope the mud bath will be bigger, deeper and more immersive. Im also going to remove the hosepipe, because that becomes another distraction that can end in tears, as D loved the power of having something he often chose to squirt at Mimi.  It sort of ended like a Chinese student protest in Singapore. On acid.


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