At KidooLand we don't charge extra for imaginary friends ;-)

Antonia age 2,5 first job Milkperson

When I was little I had an imaginary friend called Tom (from Tom Thumb) ..we had a lot of fun playing together and occasionally getting into high jinx together .. he was quite naughty sometimes and used to write my name on walls lol. He also had to sit at the table with us and eat supper.*

..I also had an imaginary dog .. and when we went out and about I'd take it for a walk holding an imaginary lead in my hand.

My mum played along and tells me it was all harmless fun. She suspects it was really because for 5 years I was an only child and though I went to Playgroup a couple of mornings .. school didn’t start until 5 .. so instead Tom and the Dog joined me at home in an imaginative adventure, creating our own play stories. Studies show how important imaginary play is in the Early Years and leaving kids to ‘hang on the gatepost’ rather than micromanage their every activity and thought is essential.

For my 5th birthday they came home with a real friend in the form of my little sister ;-) .. Tom and my little dog didn't really stand a chance then and moved on to a new family as I had baby work to get on with.

However the imaginative play didn’t stop there .. As my sister grew up into an age where she could properly play, we entered our own incredible world..we had this amazing box of dressing up clothes (real old lady clothes and capes and even a range of gentleman’s spats that we found in an attic when we moved house) we had a log cabin in the garden just for us and we would act out many different scenarios with invisible personages playing the roles we needed.

As we grew into the age of dolls .. our imagination continued .. we didn’t have the expensive dolls houses so instead used the Encyclopaedia Britannia collection stacked on their sides to make wall dividers … dividing up our floor into many different rooms .. not to brag but our Sindy’s lived in a huge complex… and by then our brother had arrived with all his more boys toys so Sindy fell in love with Action Man – who knew ?!?

Costumes on the KidooLand rails

With my own children I ensured that they too had a dressing basket full of clothes .. and we still had the log cabin .. our son in particular liked creating his own versions and outfits like Robin Hood out of a Peter Pan hat and top, his sister’s tights and some wellington boots and our daughter loved playing the role of teacher lining up all the soft toys (she would do this in French)

Now they have outgrown those beautiful costumes but all of their dressing up now line the rails in the various KidooLand’s .. I have certainly got my money’s worth out of that Peter Pan outfit and also huge joy that so many children have been able to live their own imaginative dreams through it.

Roll forward 40+ years for me personally and I would say that over the years the imagination has continued in many forms and on many levels. In my career in Corporate .. thinking out of the box was the buzz word of the decade and we were rewarded for finding solutions that saved time and money.

Now running my own company and my love of repurposing and taking an idea and bending it to how I feel it could be used within KidooLand teaching English has become a real skill that not only benefits the children we serve, shows them how to upcycle and recycle, saves the planet and saves us money but also gives me creative contentment. I am really lucky that through my work I have been allowed to carry on being really creative. I firmly believe that we can all continue through life being creative but shouldn’t get held up on the idea it needs to include holding a paintbrush .