Kelly at Kelly’s Korner is doing a great series on encouraging moms who are in the season of little ones. I’m certainly there and could use a little encouragement. I bet lots of you could too.
I wanted to jump in this week to talk about the joy of playing with your kids. Play and all that goes with it is something that I think about a lot. It’s probably because of the giant pile of toys I pick up off the floor every single night.
But it should be because I know play is so hugely important to children and their growing, maturing brains. It’s how kids learn and develop. Playtime teaches them important skills that they’ll use throughout their life like problem solving and persistence and fine motor skills.
I find myself being so thankful for the times that they play nicely on their own because it means I’m getting stuff done. It’s hard to balance a day at home with my kids and the eleventy-billion things on my to-do list.
But they also really, really want me to play with them. And do you want to know my secret? I’m not very good at it.
Andrew’s at a very fun age where he likes to color and do puzzles and he still loves to read books. I actually like Lego’s and am happy to help him build towers and bridges and car ramps even if he doesn’t need my help much anymore.
These are all things that I’m perfectly happy to do. But pretend to be the monster from Scooby-Doo? The giant from Jack and the Beanstalk? Yeah, not really my thing. Isn’t that terrible? I’ve felt really bad about this for a long time, but I think we all need to realize that we have our strengths and weaknesses as parents.
Andrew is a talker and we have the best conversations all over town. I actually enjoy taking him to the grocery store these days. I know. We count down the aisles and he helps me look for just the right cereal. He often asks for the big car cart at the store – you know the one – but I say “no, then we can’t talk to each other because you’re all the way down there!” and he believes me and just hangs out on the regular cart.
Now, If I can figure out how to leave Caroline at home I totally do it because she’s 19 months old. Ha!
But see, our everyday interactions can turn into playtime with the kids too. Have them help mix the cookie dough, get out the pantry items for dinner, take a load of laundry out of the dryer, open the door for you while you run the trash outside. Because you have to do these things anyway and they really do want to help.
And then find your playtime strength. I really love to play with playdough. And so do the kids. I try to break it out a few times a week and we make trees and pizza toppings and all kinds of wild dinosaurs.
It’s pretty here so much of the year and we have a great backyard with lots of room to roam and to turn sticks into sharks. So we try to have outside time at least 30 minutes a day and I love this. Fresh air is good for everyone. I like to take them to the park and push Caroline on the baby swing and pray she doesn’t jump off the giant big-kid slide.
I also love to take Caroline to Gymboree. It’s our special mama and Caroline time. She loves to get all that energy out, and I love to watch her climb up stuff that she can’t break.
These are things that I’m good at doing with my kids, and I try to pour my time and effort into them. I’ve learned my strengths at playtime for now. And I try not to feel too badly when I tell Andrew that Daddy would love to be the big bad wolf when he gets home from work. :)