Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hurry Up and Play!

One summer when I was a teenager, I met some second-cousins and we soon started playing together and having a great time outside their family cabin.  After about a half hour or so, their mom came outside and said, "I was washing the dishes inside, but I had to leave them and come out here and play because you looked like you were having so much fun!"
Evelyn obviously has too much unsupervised play
I was so impressed that she would leave her work half way through to come play with us that I determined to be "that kind of mom."
After reading and playing by himself for a half hour, Benjamin came upstairs like this.
I, unfortunately, don't think that I've held to that determination very well.  When the kids are playing happily by themselves, instead of thinking, "That looks fun!"  I think, "Look how much I can accomplish!"  And when I'm done with the urgent things on my "To Do" list, I often read to myself or to the kids, but not often enough do I think of playing with them.  
The holidays are a perfect time to take advantage of the kids being around and playful, but it's also very convenient to keep hacking away at the endless "To Do" list. It's not always a get things done OR play decision.  I've been surprised how much faster my chores go when I really make an effort to go fast. And it's more fun!  When I work hard to make child-led play a priority, there are big payoffs in our relationship, and it's also really fun! 

Are you good at remembering to play with your children?  What do you like to do together?  How do you find time, and how do you remember?


  1. Yes!! I needed this today! I feel so pressed to be ready for Christmas -- it's easy to forget that playing with the kids would probably do more to bring the Christmas spirit to the home than completing all my lists (nearly impossible anyway).

    Holidays aside, this is a challenge for me generally. I recently made a goal to spend time every day playing with the children on their terms. I spend a lot of one-on-one time with each of the kids: homeschooling, practicing, breastfeeding, reading, etc., but those things are different than truly playing. Seems to me that both kids and parents need the type of bonding that comes with playtime. Great reminder!

  2. A lady shared a story in church last week, that as a young mother she was always a list maker. She liked to write a list in the morning and be able to check off all the things she had accomplished at the end of the day. But she was so discouraged at how little she was able to get done with her breastfeeding child and toddler to care for. A wise friend told her she was making her list at the wrong end of the day! Instead of listing all the things she wanted to get done she should be listing all the things she did, including "played with my child," "bonded with my baby."

    Not having couches makes life with a toddler more interactive by default :)

    Great post Ariel! I need to do more of his kind of playing too.

  3. Can I toot my own horn and say, in the evenings Joe plays the piano, and I dance around with the boys? Now I should confess that what they think is just me being silly with them, I feel is a great chance to exercise.... *sigh* Do I do those things when I can't clearly see the benefit for myself? Usually not. It is something I aspire to. I'm glad I'm not alone in my need to improve as a parent!

    1. When I say the benefit for myself, I mean time wise. I am very much like you, Ariel, when there is any time where my boys are playing by themselves I am usually scrambling to do dishes, dinner prep, laundry, etc.

  4. Great reminder post, thank you! I'm way guilty of loving to "get stuff done" while kids go off and play. But when I remember to involve myself, those are the best moments of my day. Our favorite are probably dance parties. Especially the "oven dance party": turn off all the lights except the oven light while a goody is baking and dance our hearts out to Latin music.

    1. That is adorable! My kids will love this idea. Thanks for sharing!