I must admit, I haven’t been a whole lot of fun lately. Not that my goal as a mother is to win the Funnest Mom Award because what’s fun to many children is pure foolishness and ought not to be encouraged, but I do know the importance of being more than a lump-on-a-log Mom.
Child’s play is never, ever neutral. There is always something to be learned, something to be taught, something to be added to memories. If you don’t engage in play with your child, you are missing these moments.
Playing with your child brings you to their eye level and gives you an in-depth look at their world through their eyes. You will have amazing opportunities to teach your child things you would have missed had you been looking on from a distance. You are able to more effectively teach things like sharing, proper ways to play (as in “don’t hit Mommy with the car”) and even much deeper topics like The Boston Tea Party over a cup of tea with a few dolls in tow.
How to play?
Think on your child’s level. If your daughter is 3 and you give her a 10 minute lecture on The Boston Tea Party, you will find she quickly ignores you and might even decide tea is a horrible game. Speak big to your children, but don’t speak long.
Live in the moment. Sometimes you just need to play. You need to drive those cars down the ramp and make crashing noises. You need to brush the doll’s hair and put it into funny hairstyles. You need to just be with your child, enjoying them.
Pretend like nothing else matters. Moms are multitaskers, so we are notorious for “playing” with our children while we talk on the phone, pay the bills, or menu plan. And even if we aren’t doing these things “out loud”, we are often doing them in our heads while we play. I know moms well enough to know I cannot possible tell you to totally forget your other responsibilities, but at least pretend like nothing else matters. Eventually, you will believe it.
I’ll be honest, I don’t particularly like to play much of anything, but I love my children and I know they love it when I play with them. I give myself time limits and I dive in and play full tilt. I do not think it is my job to entertain my children (that only leads to discontent children who are always bored), but this post isn’t about entertaining your children, it’s about playing with them…playing like them. It’s about enjoying them when they are little and not missing precious time spent just being with them.
So, next time you hear the words, “Play with me, Mommy,” or even better, YOU initiate by stopping what you are doing and getting down on their level and playing like you mean it!