Finding Time To Play
Why is play so important? And if it’s so important, why does it seem our children are playing less and less than in prior decades?
Play isn’t just play – it’s the way babies, toddlers, children, and even adults learn, and express themselves. Play involves learning and the repetition of skills that will be used throughout his/her entire lifetime. As families have evolved into two-working-parent households and are busier and busier, finding time to play and engage without distractions is more important than ever.
As a parent it can be hard to stop and find time to play – the dishes and laundry are always piling up, the to do list is always growing, and maybe you are like the many other parents rushing home to cook dinner and conquer bath and bedtime routines before crashing in bed? If so, you are not alone!
If you’re struggling to find ways to spend quality time with your child or fit playtime into the day, here are a few easy ways to add some fun and play into the nooks and crannies of your day, even for the busiest of parents.
1. Set a routine/time that is a no-screen / strictly playtime. Depending on your schedules, maybe it’s in the morning before work and school or maybe it’s in the evening before bed. Start off with just 15 or 30 minutes and add more time as the routine grows.
2. Let your child dictate the play. Go with the flow. Let them communicate and express themselves to you in the art or play activity.
3. Don’t over think it or reinvent the wheel – just be. Be there, be responsive, and enjoy the moment.
4. When playtime is over – make sure you recap the time with them “Sam, I had so much fun playing with you this morning. You did an amazing job building that Lego tower. Mommy loves spending time with you!” Let them know how much the playtime means to you as well.
5. Plan a family night – think game night, movie night, pizza night, art night – and make it a regularly scheduled weekly activity.
6. Once a week on the way home from work/daycare/any pick-up spots, stop at a local park for play and a picnic! Build in fun and play in the times when you’re already out and about.
7. Spend a lot of time in the car? Instead of turning on your DVD player for the drive – talk about cloud shapes and what they look like, make up funny stories by alternating words or phrases, use your imagination to be creative and make the most of the moments.