“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein
What a great quote to remember right now, as we are navigating uncharted waters as far as education and socialization are concerned. Lucky for your children… they have you. With so many curve balls thrown at us lately, it’s important to remember how important it is to spend time playing with your kids. Laughing with them, enjoying their company, and just creating those intentional play moments. These times with your children will be the most important thing you’ll do all day.
We were going to wake up and paint, play a game of ‘hide & seek,’ then read three books, write and draw pictures about those books, etc….
I’m sure you can see where this is going. Yep… you guessed it: Many days, I ended up being frustrated with myself because it just was not working as I had planned.
LIFE got in the way: cleaning, cooking, running errands, babies needing naps, toddler needing snacks…
In my efforts to be intentional, I often felt overwhelmed and even guilty for not doing it all. I know that we all want what is best for our children, but oftentimes, it hinders us from just enjoying our moments together. Parents feel the need to providing their children with the “perfect play opportunities” because of the studies we read, the expectations placed on ourselves, the social pressure we feel…
What if we stopped waiting to get the perfect day to drive to that new park, stopped waiting to do a new craft project until we ordered perfect materials, stopped waiting to play that card game together until we found the perfect moment?
Often, as moms, we can be extreme. We can either overly plan every second of our child’s day and fill it with so much that they do not learn how to play independently or we do not leave time for shared relaxation, laughter, and play with our children. I suggest the best of both worlds… a happy medium.
When our second child was born, I realized the power of doing one main activity a day and letting the rest of our intentional play moments just happen. The rest didn’t have to be “planned.” Sometimes we would sit and color, do a puzzle or work on a project together.
The best part is that intentional play can be anything! So often we get caught up in what everyone else is doing that we lose sight of what works best for our own kids.
Maybe you love riding bikes with your child, hop on a bike, and start creating regular bike ride times. Or perhaps you love arts and crafts. Use what you and your child love to create intentional play moments.
As you focus on activities that your child loves, you will realize your time together is more relaxed and fun.
The stress to create a perfect moment is gone because you are just enjoying playing together. These moments won’t be forgotten. As the saying goes… Your child will never remember their best day of television.
Don’t worry, you are not alone. If you want to start carving out the time, ask yourself these questions:
Our daughter loves playing dolls & princesses, so I know that sitting down and playing dolls with her brings her so much joy. Our sons love to paint, build with Lincoln Logs& play outside, so doing those things for 20 minutes makes them happy for the whole day.
At first, it may help to schedule the time of intentional play. One mom I know sets a timer for ten or twenty minutes, and each of her kids gets those minutes of undivided attention with her. The child picks out the activity, and the other children know this is their time and to respect that.
If scheduling time to play with your little one makes you feel guilty, don’t let it! Making a plan enables things to actually happen rather than saying you will sit down and play dolls and end up forgetting to. The more you carve out the time, the more of a routine it is.
Whatever season of motherhood you are in, you can put this into practice. As your kids get older, it will turn from intentional play to intentional moments. We can be purposeful and use the little pockets of time to create meaningful moments that build a foundation of love and trust.
Remember, it is those simple moments that matter.
What are some ideas for intentional play that you have?
GAMES TO PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS: