Today I am teaming up again with some other mom bloggers on a series called Ask Away Thursday. Anonymous submissions are thoughtfully answered by a panel of mothers who can offer different perspectives based on their experience. If you have a parenting question be sure to send it our way (email@example.com), and it may be featured in a future installment! This edition’s question: “How much time should I spend playing with my kids? Sometimes it’s really hard for me to because I’m just not interested in playing.”
I used to think I was a bad mother if I didn’t spend hours playing with my children every day. I felt consumed with guilt for “leaving them to their own devices” more often than not. While I certainly did not neglect my children, I believed I wasn’t loving them if I didn’t keep them entertained every minute of the day.
Then I got over the mommy guilt.
I realized that my children won’t need therapy if I haven’t been engaged in active, stimulating play with them for most of their waking hours. I stopped being worried that their brains would shrivel up if I let them watch a little bit of tv during the day.
There must be a balance between play and work in your home. As the parent, you should model to your children that work is important and necessary. You cannot always be the entertainment director when there is housework, laundry, and cooking to be done. Children need time playing by themselves, and with their siblings, so they learn to be independent and imaginative. If you direct their play all the time, they will learn that they should just let you do everything for them because you do it better.
Of course, it’s also important to spend quality time with your children. That doesn’t necessarily mean getting down on the floor and playing cars and trucks or dolls, though. Playing also involves things like cuddling up and reading a book, helping them do a craft, or pushing them on the swings. Even when we sit quietly and are passive, yet receptive and attentive to our kids while they play, they feel nurtured by our companionship. In this way, we validate our kids because they know they’re able to hold our interest without having to ask for it.
Your kids need to know that you can break away from a task once in a while to have a little fun. Make sure that you are joining in on their fun already in progress, instead of trying to steer their course of play in another direction. As adults we tend to impose our grown up standards of reality on children’s “sky is the limit” type of pretend play. Kids are constantly learning on their own from exploring the world around them and watching you engage in everyday activities, too.
Instead of setting a specific time limit for playing with your kids each day, I would make sure to spend quality time with them doing something they enjoy. Here are some tips:
- Offer simple toys and objects that make for more open ended, creative play
- Keep screen use to a bare minimum
- Create some art together
- Get outside and take a trip to the playground or run around outside in the backyard
How would YOU answer this question? Check out other responses by these awesome moms:
Crystal from Love More Live Blessed, a mother of three who loves crafting, cooking, and coffee. On her blog she shares recipes, budgeting tips, crafts, and fun kid stuff.
Monica from A Mother Loving Mess, a mother of five trying to survive. She writes about parenting, fun DIY’s, recipes, and more.
Rachel from Don’t Call Me Supermom, a SAHM of two who loves cooking, crafting, anything natural & organic, and getting a good deal!