Parenting Teaches You What’s Important…
And believe it or not, Play is definitely high on that list! Playtime isn’t just important for your child, but it’s important for you too! And it’s vital to the both of you, that time be made for it. I’m going to explain why it is that I “shut off” the world, and make time for my son…This post contains affiliate links. Please see full disclosure page for more details.
Why Should Kids Play?
Even as young as a few days old, and until they are adolescents, children need play for a variety of reasons. Physical play will…
- Strengthen Muscles
- Develop Fine and Gross Motor Skills
- Promote Brain Development (In Infants)
- Improve creativity, problem solving, & social skills (In All Children)
- Decrease risk of developing serious health complications & conditions (Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc)
Actual “play” is vital to a child’s well being all throughout their life! But first, they must actually learn how to play…
Playing with my baby
Of course when you have a brand new litte baby, you can’t help but play with them. I mean, they can’t do much at that stage but lay there and look at you-but any kind of interaction still translates into a “play” for them. Then, once they can hold things, and focus their little eyes on objects easier-EVERYTHING is play! We started Tummy Time from the day we came home from the hospital (Bruce was pulling up in the baby bassinet in my hospital room) and it didn’t take long for him to start pushing up into a crawl position, rolling over, and sitting up. We collected all the early baby toys we could, and now at 18 months, he has progressed into “Big Boy” toys. But we first needed to teach him how to play.
Whether you’re reading a book together, building a block tower, batting a ball across the floor-it’s all play. And it teaches an infant to grasp, lift, place, throw, crawl, toddle, climb…I could keep going but you get my point. They are learning everything they know of the psychical world by playing! And whatever toy they have isn’t as important to these lessons, as is the factor of having their parent play with them.
I taught my son to throw the ball. I taught him to “drive” the toy car around. And I taught him to beat his hands on the toy drum set to “play music.” yes, the toys did help facilitate that-but he learns just as much if not more, from watching me show him how to play, rather than just giving him the toy and leaving him alone.
How do you find the time?
Yes, I’m a SAHM, so it probably seems like I have a ton of time to dedicate to “playing with my kid.” But, as any parent should know, even if you are at home, your day is usually full of a lot of other responsibilities; cooking, cleaning, errands, whatever-it-takes-to-keep-kid-alive, then you might have a husband to deal with later on in the evening. it’s time consuming!
And if you’re a working mom, you probably have way less time at home for all the same things the SAHM is responsible for, anyway!
But even when I have a ton of stuff on my plate, I make a conscious effort to dedicate solid time to playing with my son. And, it’s really not that hard to do!
Here’s a few tips that help me delegate the time amongst the responsibility…
- Make a “Must-Do” List for the day, and add “Play” as a chore
Today, for example, I planned out an hour dedicated to laundry in the morning (which means “free play without Mommy” for the baby), followed by an hour of “Baby Play.” If it’s on my list, it needs to be done. Having the list helps me not worry about what else is on the list, because time for other chores will be just as dedicated as this one is. Now, one option that you can utilize, should you choose…
- Combine “Work” with “Play
Yes, laundry needs to be folded and put away. While he does sometimes completely un-fold the towels, it’s more of a game for him (and learning experience, once he is older) if I pile all the clothes on the bed-and let him “fold” with me. As he’s older, we can incorporate more tasks into a type of “game”-like carrying groceries, picking up toys (right now he just scatters them out five seconds later), sweeping…you get the idea.
- Make someone else do the work
Yes, sometimes I will make my husband finish up the dinner dishes and run the vacuum around, just so I can spend time playing. Parenting is a teamwork effort, and Daddy can’t always be the one to wrestle in the floor while I cook every dinner. We divide things up, and it keeps both of us grounded, and avoiding become burned out.
I don’t want my son to grow up remembering that Mommy was always too busy” to read a book, drive toy dump trucks, or participate in a splash war during bath time. He’s not only going to learn and grow so much from actual play time, he’s going to make memories. So at the very end of the day, if it’s necessary, I will…
- Bump chores to another day
He’s the biggest priority. Not organizing my pantry.