When I was a new mom, one of my favorite things to do was go toy shopping. I had huge long wish lists of things that I wanted to buy my kids. When I heard another mom say that she hated toys and wanted to get rid of them all because they were just always everywhere, I was shocked.
How could anyone not like toys?
But I found that playing with toys as a parent wasn’t nearly as fun as playing with them as a child had been and after a few years I gradually lost interest. I still love buying toys, even if I’m much pickier about what I’ll bring into my house but sitting down and actually playing with toys just isn’t really my thing.
And that’s a problem. I know it is. We’ve all heard that play is a child’s work. I firmly believe that. I also firmly believe that kids need to see us making time for the things that are important to them. All too often though, I hear myself responding to my kids’ requests that I play with them with, “in a minute” or “just let me finish one more thing”.
My 5 year old yelled at me once and said, “that just means no”.
I know the days when my kids actually WANT to play with me are numbered so I’m making a resolution to turn over a new leaf. I may not enjoy playing toys and board games are on par with going to the dentist as far as I’m concerned but I want my kids to see me making time for their interests and putting aside my to-do list to make time for them.
Here’s how I’m making play a priority:
Limit the Toy Clutter – I seriously CAN NOT play if there is a mess to clean up. It distracts me to the point that I can’t focus on anything else. By making more of an effort to keep the clutter under control and having a clean play space, I’m able to focus on the things that are really important – my kids.
Set a Daily Play Goal – I’m big on to-do lists. If it isn’t written down it just doesn’t get done. I keep all the important things on my list so I’m adding playtime with my kids. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, my kids love having some individual and undivided attention.
Find Toys I Like – I have mostly boys and seriously, action figures just don’t do it for me but I LOVE air hockey and word puzzles. If I start with the things that we both enjoy I can be more engaged in play and my kids can tell the difference.
What do you do to make playing with your kids a priority?