Print this page Finding Time to Play with Your Kids

Moms and dads worry about a lot of things. There are the big issues, like making sure your children are healthy and safe, paying all the bills, and ensuring that the kids are getting a good education. Then there are the everyday challenges of organizing a household, like getting everyone where they need to be on time, doing the laundry, and cooking dinner while helping with homework.

All these responsibilities and chores often translate into chronically stressed parents who may understand how important good, healthy play is for their growing children, but who have very little time to play with their own kids. Is it possible for parents to put their “to do” list on the back burner and take some time for play?

It may help parents to understand that there are many types of play—including solitary play, play with siblings, play with peers, and family-centered play. For healthy development, kids need variety in their playmates. It may not be the healthiest situation for parents to be a child’s only playmates, but getting involved from time to time can be fun, reduce stress for moms and dads, and deepen your bonds with your child.

Here are a few tips for making time to play with your kids:

  • Make play out of everyday activities. What’s work to an adult may be play to a child. Laundry or getting groceries or making dinner may take a bit longer if welcome your child’s participation in the activity, but if you combine the chore with playful counting or measuring or sorting or singing silly songs about what you are doing together, don’t be surprised if you find yourself laughing and having fun.
  • Let your child take the lead. Don’t feel like you have to be the one to think up an activity and get it organized. Fun is the goal. Try turning yourself over to your child’s interests and direction. See how silly and fun it can get if you get into your child’s world for a few minutes every day.
  • Take things off the schedule. It may feel imperative to sign your child up for sports, music lessons, and other enriching activities. But each new commitment drains energy (and probably cash, for that matter) from your family. How much time would you gain per week if you eliminated just one activity? Try it. Use some of the found time for play with your child, and some for recharging yourself.
  • Give yourself permission to relax and play. So what if the house is a mess? There will always be chores to get done, but your precious little one is little only once. Play is about getting absorbed in the present, and kids can help you see the joys of slowing down. Try turning over a couple hours a week to living at “child speed.”

Provided By Susan J. Oliver, Tropomedia
This information is provided on behalf of the toy experts at your
neighborhood toy store.


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