I have never been the tea-party type of mom. As a matter of fact, when Sunshine was younger it was really hard for me to do imaginative play with her. While I have gotten better over the years it is still equally hard for me to engage and a pretend
the way that she wants me too. And although I find other ways to engage in activities with my kids, they frequently remind me that I never play with them. So the bike riding, basketball, soccer, walk, hopscotch, trips to the Plex, don’t count as playing? Nope. Why? Because they were things I wanted to do with them.
Yes, the children obliged, but as adults, we kind of have ways of coercing them without even knowing it.
The biggest step in learning to play with your children is finding out what it is they want to do. Easy enough right?
Not necessarily. If your children are like mine, they will always check facial expressions to see if it is something that I would enjoy.
The key is to make it fun for them and about them, not about you. Even when playing with your children the overall goal should be the joy that both of you get out of your interactions together. So while your family may have certain rules in place, it’s important to still try and be a little lax. You want your kids to know that they can have moments where you can ease up on them and they can do the same.
We started having the children pick their favorite activities one night a week. Alyssa enjoys playing UNO. So that became a game we would play whenever we had random free time. Andrew, of course, has a thing for video games, so he and dad have started playing video games (nothing violent, it is usually just Super Mario Brothers).
Isla and Sarah are a little more difficult. It’s always something new with them. One day they will be infatuated with bubbles (which leads us to run out and get three giant gallons of bubbles and a bubble machine), and the next day they hate bubbles and only want to play Barbie. Which is fine. But it can be very exhausting!
I have learned to enjoy this discovery phase with them and help open them up to different experiences. They get to explore when we go on walks (if that’s something they want to do), and if they want to help in the kitchen, I find an easy meal that they can help with.
Playtime is supposed to be fun. Let them get a little dirty, and step out of your comfort zone. You just may end up finding an activity that you love and who knows, it just become a family tradition. This is the perfect time for you and your little ones to create new lasting memories that you all will enjoy.
Love of impromptu dance parties, 80’s cartoons, and horizontal life pauses (aka naps); Natasha Brown is a stay at home mom of 4 kids, and wife to one lucky guy! In her spare time, she is co-editor of Grits & Grace, as well as editor for The Mother Hustler Blog and Creative Director for the Mother Hustler podcast.