It is time to stop watching our kids play, and really get in there and play with our kids. As a play therapist, I feel like I see parents sitting back and watching their kids play more and more. I support that, too, because I think that kids should learn to entertain themselves, but there is also a time to play with our kids. Last year, at a meeting for work, we were all shocked to see the statistics that support this post: The average parent spends LESS THAN 20 minutes a day playing with their kids.
I was shocked, until I really thought about it what it meant. I thought about how often I get down on the floor and play with our kids or how often I dress up and play pirates with them.
Playing is not observing.
- It is not reading while your child plays.
- It is not watching them dance around in a Cinderella costume.
- It is not watching them build a tower out of legos.
Playing is playing.
- It is reading with them.
- It is dancing around with them.
- It is building with them.
- It is getting on the floors, doing an activity with them, even when we are too tired to play.
I want to encourage you to play with your kids today- really get down on the floor and play with them. Put everything else aside (leave your phone in the other room). To help you get started today, here are a few suggestions that I give to the families that I work with:
1- Schedule it if you have to. Schedule your playtime. Set aside time, every day, that is devoted to your child. Maybe it is 12:00 right after lunch? Whatever works for you- just be ALL there.
2. Mix it up when you get bored of playing the same thing. Find a new activity- make it fun for yourself! Find toys and games that you would have loved to have played when you were little!
…I won’t say that I bought the Disney Princess Castle toy just because I think that it is really fun to play princesses with our daughter, after having three sons… nope- I won’t say that at all. (Or that I added play dough accessories to their stockings because I wanted to be able to make play dough spaghetti and play dough ice cream cones ) 🙂
3. It doesn’t have to be a MAJOR EVENT.
I think that we think of playing with our kids as this big event- like we have to be outside, at this special park, playing a football game or something. It doesn’t have to be that way.
I tell my husband all of the time when he decides that he needs to go play at the local school even though we have a perfectly good back yard for the kids to run around in. I say that it really can’t be that way because we can’t maintain that. We can’t take them to the park, with a football, water bottles, cleats, etc… every time that we want to throw around the football. It’s just not practical. We need to make it work for us. Sure- change it up and make it fun, but remember that playing with your kids can be done right now- this very minute- with whatever you have at your house. They don’t care what you are doing. They just want YOU.
Maybe you just throw on flip-flops and head out back to throw the ball around for 20 minutes?
You can even sit at the kitchen table, throw down an old tablecloth and grab some play dough. I love play-dough playtime because it is a great time to sit and catch up with my child. We create and make things, but we talk at the same time.
I also love working with our DIY creativity kit for the same reason. I have as much fun as they do and it is an easy activity!
4. Listen to your kids as they play with you and talk to them. Don’t just be “there”, but really be IN THE MOMENT. So many times I feel like we are “there” but we aren’t “really there”.
BE PRESENT TODAY!
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