Does playing with your kids feel like a chore?
If so, you’re likely in good company. Many busy parents find playing with children to be rather boring.
Yes, you love your kids. But for many parents, gone are the days of finding dress-ups and trucks intellectually stimulating or relaxing.
Besides, someone needs to fold the laundry. And after a long day at work, you’d rather collapse onto the couch than the floor with toy trucks.
Don’t Like Playing With Your Kids?
The moment you walk in the door, you could be met with a bright smile and a fairy wand. Or you could pull into the driveway only to be hit with a water balloon.
You really want to utter, “I’m sorry but I need to finish the bills. Maybe later.” And as we all know, later quickly becomes dinner and bedtime.
Or you can say, “Let’s play!”
Why Should I Say ‘Let’s Play!’?
Yes, chores need to be done, bills need to be paid. However, if you really look at your day, chances are there are times you can choose play.
You don’t need to be your child’s entertainment all day. In fact, that wouldn’t necessarily be the best thing for them. However, getting on the floor to play a bit is really important.
Children learn through play. There’s a time and a place for book learning. But for young children, play really is learning.
Play helps children:
- Explore and learn about their environment
- Use cognitive processes for creativity and imagination
- Be physically active and strengthen different muscles
- Practice and further develop fine motor skills
- Work on gross motor skills and coordination
- Learn empathy through role playing/imaginative play
- Learn about emotions, personal boundaries and nonverbal communication
- Develop verbal communication and conflict resolution skills
- Develop problem solving skills
- Explore different roles in the community through imaginative play.
It’s important for children to have time to explore and play without adults setting it up and being the only source of entertainment. However, that need doesn’t negate the benefits of play with adults and especially their parents.
Adults can help model new play situations. Adults can be a positive role model. They can encourage more thoughts and exploration. And perhaps most importantly, they can provide positive attention.
Family Life Should Be Fun
We can’t play 24/7. And even our children can participate in chores and homework as needed. Overall the home should be a positive and fun environment.
Play is one way to make your home and family fun. Fostering a fun environment and a close family bond while children are young can set up the ground work for a positive and trusting relationship as your children get older.
If your relationship with your 5 year old doesn’t go beyond behaviour correction and your bedtime routine, it could be much harder to get them to open up to you as a teen when big decisions and behaviours occur.
As children explore their world outside the home, sometimes they’ll be met with negative and even scary situations. Having not just a safe but also a fun home life can help them remain secure as they explore their world.
Parenting is also an incredibly stressful role. Once you find a way to have fun with your children, you just might find your role feeling a little less stressful. Like any relationship, if you’re only going through the motions, you miss out on many opportunities of joy and bonding.
How Do I Play With My Kids?
At first, this seems like a silly question. I mean, who needs to be taught how to play? For many adults, it’s been years since they’ve played.
If the thought of getting on the floor to play with toy trucks is met with thoughts of boredom, you might find a few tips helpful.
#1: No Personal Electronics
That’s right, turn off your cellphone. Leave it in another room if you feel tempted to turn it on. It doesn’t need to be an all day thing.
However, our children notice when our eyes look away every time we hear a beep. Take some time to be fully attentive, even if it’s only 10 minutes at a time.
#2: Don’t Control The Activities
There’s a time and a place for structured activities and they’re an important part of development too. But there’s also a time to let children take the lead and play in a way they desire.
It helps them to learn how to describe their actions and instruct others about their activity.
#3: Be Fun!
Sitting on the ground next to playing children isn’t necessarily the same as engaging. No, you don’t have to engage in play 24/7 but really be intentional when you sit to play with your kids. Use a silly voice, jump fully into your character roll, and don’t be afraid to get a little messy.
Nothing is more fun than watching your mother get a little muddy jumping in puddles.
#4: Be Spontaneous
You’re not going to be able to drop what you’re doing all the time. But when you have the opportunity to go from paying bills to joining in on the water balloon battle outside, do it!
Provided you don’t forget and you keep the electric on, in 20 years you’re not going to regret waiting an hour to organise the bills so you can play with your kids. In the blink of an eye, you’ll be begging your child to spend time with you. Take the time to invest now, don’t have regrets, and maybe you won’t have to beg quite so much.
Read more about Child’s Play: Why Its Such a Big Deal.