Since the title of this blog is The Playful MOMents, you might think that what it means to be a playful mom is playing with your kids all the time. This could not be farther from the truth!
I love playing and spending time with my kids and I am a huge advocate of it. However, there is no way I can spend all my time playing with them. In fact, it’s just as important that my kids have unstructured play by themselves.
I know! By now, you are really confused! What does it mean to be a playful mom if I don’t spend lots of time playing with my kids?
Go get some coffee, put your feet up, relax and I’ll share my secrets!
Secrets to Being a Playful Mom:
1) Take advantage of fun-filled learning opportunities
Recently, I took my kids to a free story time at our local zoo. It would have been easier to stay home and do what I wanted to do on a Saturday morning. After all, I work part-time in addition to managing all the household tasks and errands all week. Saturday morning is my one chance to relax a little.
I also knew that the story time at the zoo would be a fun, hands on learning opportunity for my kids. In my post about free activities for kids, I elaborate on this experience with my kids.
Taking advantage of opportunities like this one is what being a playful mom is all about. Sharing in my children’s learning experiences IS being playful.
2) Be available and accessible
Being a playful mom means you are available and accessible to your kids. This means that you are willing to support your kids and their needs no matter what.
It means they know that when they need you to spend some time with them, you will. (Notice, I said some time, not all of your time.)
It means that for the most part, you put their needs ahead of your own.
Being available and accessible doesn’t mean you have to be engaged with them every minute. You don’t always have to be in the same vicinity or even the same town.
Recently, my kids and I visited my mother who lives an hour and a half away from us. During our visit, she ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. It was necessary for me to stay in her town so I could help her get home from the hospital.
My husband had to work and wasn’t able to be with us during our entire visit. He so helpfully came and got the kids and took them home while I helped my mom in her time of need. It was the first time I had been away from both of my kids overnight.
Thankfully, I only had to be away from them for one night. Even though I wasn’t physically accessible to them, I was still available. If they needed to talk to me, all they had to do was call.
If you want to build a good relationship with each of your children, make sure you are available. Be accessible so they know they can talk to you and share their thoughts and feelings. Be available so they feel like they can ask you to play and spend time with you.
3) Spend quality time with your kids
This is definitely easier said than done. You have so many irons in the fire trying to provide for your family, that finding time to spend with your kids is a struggle. Believe me, I know! I struggle with this, too. Read my post on how to find time to spend with kids for tips and advice.
Being a playful mom requires that you spend some time with your kids each day. If you only have fifteen minutes a day to spend with your kids, that is better than no time. Try to aim for spending at least 30 minutes a day, though.
Make sure the time you spend is quality. This means that you are engaged with your children, either in activity or conversation. You aren’t just in the same vicinity as your children, but doing your own tasks.
Remember, the more time you take to bond with your kids when they are young, the better your relationship will be when they are older.
If you spend time with them now, they will more than likely spend fun, quality time with you when they are an adult.
4) Get down on their level
Kids are naturally fun-loving, enthusiastic, silly and spontaneous. Knowing how to play with your kids means letting go of your inhibitions and let your inner child come out.
I remember occasionally swinging on the swings at recess when I was teaching Kindergarten. The kids were in total awe. I am sure some of them had never seen an adult swing before.
All of a sudden they all wanted to swing and interact with me. They were so excited to see their teacher come down to their level. Be silly and funny and your kids will engage and open up to you in ways you never thought possible.
5) Provide meaningful toys, books, and activities
Be intentional about the types of toys, books and activities you use with your children. Look for toys that inspire open-ended play.
Make sure the books your kids interact with are educational and provide value to your child’s overall well-being.
Engage in activities that teach or reinforce developmentally appropriate skills and concepts.
There are so many resources out there that it is easy to get overwhelmed. You can’t go wrong by keeping it simple and meaningful.
Being a Playful Mom Doesn’t Require:
1) Being constantly engaged with your children
Really! It’s OK to spend time away from your kids. In fact, your kids need time on their own, too.
If it is necessary that you have some quiet time to get some tasks and chores accomplished, turn on a timer. Tell your kids they have to play quietly by themselves until the timer goes off.
Be realistic about how long you set the timer. Young children won’t be able to play quietly for long periods of time.
My toddler and preschooler can handle about 15-20 minutes at a time.
You can structure your children’s play and provide activities such as sensory bins that they can play with. Try to encourage your children to play independently if possible. Unstructured play is important for their development and fosters more imagination and role-playing.
2) Providing continuous entertainment
Guess what!!! It’s OK for kids to be bored! Yes, really. We live in a society of constant entertainment that it’s even difficult for me to sit quietly with nothing to do sometimes.
When kids have the opportunity to be bored, it encourages them to problem solve and think on their own. Don’t provide them with every answer and solve all their problems.
Lots of screen time is unhealthy for kids. If possible, encourage your children to play outside. Let them experience what nature has to offer for them to interact and play with.
3) Indulging your kids
Being a playful mom doesn’t mean giving your child every toy and gadget there is. All that accomplishes is overwhelming your children and making them feel entitled.
Like I pointed out earlier, it is important to be intentional about the toys and experiences we provide our children with.
You are the gatekeeper of your house. Make careful and wise decisions about what comes into your house for your children to watch, interact and play with.
Be the Playful Mom You Always Wanted to Be
It doesn’t take special knowledge or talent to be a playful mom. It just means consistently doing these five things:
- Taking advantage of fun-filled learning opportunities
- Being available and accessible
- Spending Quality Time with Your Kids
- Getting Down on Their Level
- Providing Meaningful Toys, Books and Activities
If you can master this list, you can rest assured that you will be the mom all kids desire. A mom that interacts and plays with them in a fun and enthusiastic manner. You got this mama!!