I stood at the kitchen sink, washing the dinner dishes as she wandered into the kitchen, her face partially covered with her wild, blonde curls. As I loaded in plates, spoons and bowls, she looked up at me. “Mommy, play doll house?” Normally, I’d say “When I’m done with this, babe!”, which would often send her away to play by herself or with her brother and sister. Sometimes I’d remember to join in, after I completed whatever I was working on, but many other times, I’d forget.
Thankfully, something was different this time. I said YES, washed my hands, left the dishes and then joined her on the floor. Laying side by side on our tummies, we played doll house. It was maybe just 10 minutes, but it made a lasting impression on us both.
That night when I put her to bed, I asked her what the best part of her day was. Sitting there on my lap, her blankies tucked into a huge pile between us, she answered, “playing doll house with you!” And just think….I might have continued to do the dishes and missed out on that time with her.
My whole life, what I wanted more than anything was to be a Mom. Now I’m Mama to 3 of the best kids in the world and yet I struggle to stop and play. I know it’s not just me either, because I talk to women at MOPS, church, on hikes and at playdates. They say this same thing. They say they want to play and they know it’s good for their kids, but it’s something they struggle with.
Some of us are doers. We’re get’er done types of girls and let’s face it, we’re really good at it! But, those of us who can rock a list and a plate full of tasks, struggle to stop and play. When we get down to play with our kids, we get restless and it doesn’t feel productive. We can’t focus. We want to move on to the next thing. What the heck?!
Play doesn’t have to be complicated or even a huge time commitment. I played “doll house” with her for literally 10 minutes and then she said it was the best part of her day.
Kids really aren’t as complicated as we make them out to be. More than anything, they just need us.
Our children crave our undivided attention. They don’t know what it feels like to want to just “get stuff done”. For now, the best work they can do is play and use their imagination. Since we’re their favorite people in the world, they want us to join them.
If you’re a doer get’er done kind of girl and you struggle to play, here are a few ideas for you:
- Play hangman. Get out a sheet of paper or use a dry erase board and play hangman with your kids. This simple game encourages spelling and helps kids learn the ability of decoding words. It’s educational and fun at the same time!
- Play “Hide and Seek” Our kids LOVE to play hide and seek.
- Create some masterpieces from play-doh. You can make all kind of shapes and fun things from play-doh. Cookie cutters are definitely a plus for this activity. If you want to go the extra mile, make your own, and psstt…it’s not that difficult to make!
- Play ball. Whether it’s soccer, baseball, basketball, kick-ball, dodgeball or quiet ball — just play! It’s a simple and sometimes cheap way to have loads of fun iwht little prep needed!
- Make paper airplanes. Boys and girls like constructing these simple airplanes. Take the finished products and have some races!
- Play with balloons! Lots of fun games can be played using balloons.
- Play “Name that Tune.” You can hum or bang out the notes on an instrument.
- Make collages. A simple collage can be made from old magazines. you can cut out pictures and glue them onto regular paper, construction paper or large poster board. Make it as simnple or complex as you like!
- Put on a puppet show. Grab some stuffed animals and socks and hide behind a couch. Let your kids take turns and make sure everyone gets a standing ovation for their shows!
- Go on a scavenger hunt. Who doesn’t love a good hunt? Grabs ome simple prizes and make up one map or riddles for the kids to follow. It will be fun to watch the kids working together to find the treasure!
- Go outside and collect rocks, leaves and other specimens. Gather up your findings and discuss the colors, shapes and differences between the items.
- Go to the park. Get in the car and drive to the park. Park your car. Get out of the car. Now play with your kids!
- Have a race. We have running races, bike races, hopping races, crawling races and backwards races. Just try it!
- Bake some cookies with your kids. Thought you may not consider baking playing, your kids do! Let them measure the ingredients, hold the mixer, crack the eggs and let them get messy!
- Have a water fight! Grab empty plastic bottles, water guns, buckets, pitchers and anything that is safe and hold water. Put some water play outfits on and get to soaking each other!
- Make some cards for family or friends. Do you know someone that is sick or just having a difficult time? Grab some supplies and you and your kiddos sit down and make hand-made cards for them.
- Go on a long bike ride or walk. Kids love getting outside their yard and home on foot or on bikes. Do it together as a family; it’s safer and much more fun!
- Fly a kite! The story of Mary Poppins had it right when they made kite flying look like so much fun!
Do you have any fun ideas to add to this list? How do you enjoy playing with your kids?