What do you think your child wants most? You guessed it – you! Before you start feeling overwhelmed, consider that a study published in Family Circle magazine notes that while mothers in 1959 reported playing with their child about 275 hours a year or 23 hours a month, by 1983 the time had shrunk to only 75 hours a year or about 6 hours a month.
When people play, they tap into right brain functions like creativity and imagination which supports their productivity and resourcefulness. Children’s work is play because that is how they learn and discover. When parents are fully present and engaged, instead of listening to the chatter in their minds what they “should” be doing, they also can learn, discover, have fun, relax, release stress, and become healthier. They can also have stronger connections and influence with their kids. When you get back to joy of childhood through play, your kids can see you as relatable and human. It brings you together, and helps you enjoy parenting more.
You might be wondering how to make the time to play when you have so much work to do. If that’s the case, you cannot afford not to play, for your own sake. You are missing out on the juiciness of parenting if you are not enjoying your kids. If you want to model a fulfilling, meaningful life for your kids to repeat when they are adults, then follow these simple steps to play like a kid again:
1. Recognize That Play Is Important
Play and relaxation have a critical place in a busy world. When you take the time to have fun and rejuvenate, you are more productive and have more stamina in the long run. The last thing you or your kids want is for you to burn out.
2. Make Play A Priority And Schedule It
While it might feel mechanical, putting something on the calendar helps it get done, especially if you have your child looking forward to it and holding you accountable for this intentional time.
3. Choose An Activity You Both Enjoy
It has to be fun for you and your child. Resentment may build if you choose something just because your kid likes it. Make sure the activity means something to you, too.
4. Be Present And Focused
Do what you can to safeguard this time from distractions. This includes mental and emotional worries or guilt, as well as phone calls and other outer world interruptions.
5. Consider Adjustments To Make For Next Time
This is not a one-time deal. I’m advising that you do as much of it as you can, at least 6 hours monthly, to help increase the average of mom’s play time. Learn from what didn’t work and create an even better experience next time.
Playing with your child does a lot to strengthen your relationship with your child. And as a nice side effect, you can increase your own productivity and enjoyment of life, too.
Walt Whitman said, “When I give, I give myself.” Your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical presence is the greatest gift you can give your child. Will you find a way this holiday season to afford them that gift? Please comment below and share this with other parents who might want to play, too.