Since I stopped working full time outside of my home in June 2013, I’ve had more opportunities to watch my kids play. Over the last several months, I’ve been blogging about play, which has made me acutely aware of what happens when I’m playing with my own kids. I’ve done a lot of thinking about what I’ve discovered through this process, and this is what I’ve learned.
Try what they like, even if you don’t
I’m not great at organized sports. I tried to avoid P.E. all the time in high school. But my son loves sports. He loves soccer, basketball or any other game that involves a ball and running. He and I have a lot of time together, and he asks me to play with him. Here's my thought process as I play. “Gosh, I’m uncoordinated. Are the neighbors watching and laughing as I fail at frisbee throwing again? I'm in 9th grade gym class all over again...He's having a blast and giggling so hard. He’s getting so strong! And he's getting out all of that energy that would otherwise be burned up jumping on the couch.” Get out of your comfort zone and lean into your child’s interests.
Introduce them to what you like
As a child I loved doing art projects, playing store with my sister, playing board games and putting together puzzles. I love that my kids are old enough to play board games now. I'm always looking to introduce them to a new one. I even attempted to play monopoly with them the other day because my daughter wanted to try it.
I love Pinterest because I would have loved doing the projects I find there when I was a child. And I love doing those projects with my kids now. It almost never turns out as nicely as the pictures but I'm not doing it in pursuit of perfection. I'm doing it to do something fun with the kids and to help them figure out what they like and don't like. I feel like I get to know them better as people when we do projects together.
Balance is important
It's important to play but it's also important to have a balance. I want them to know that I'm not just their mom, I'm also a person who has interests of my own. When they play independently, I read a magazine, crochet or do other things. I’ve actually written some blog posts while the kids are at the playground. I don't always want to play Candyland, and I think discussing these things is a great exercise in thinking about others.
There’s a time to play, and a time to work
Since the kids were little, we’ve tried to make sure they clean up after themselves when they’re done playing with toys. We have worked on integrating chores for the kids as well, like helping with laundry and dishes. We are working on keeping their own rooms clean and picked up. I want them to understand that we are all members of the family and need to take responsibility for the state of our home. They need to clean up after themselves. Sometimes we are better at this than others, but it’s important to keep trying. It’s all a work in progress, but it’s progress in the right direction.
I don’t regret for one minute my decision to stay home with my kids. I feel like I’ve learned so much about them and pushed myself to learn and grow in different ways, and I’m thankful for that. I’m glad we have the opportunity to play and learn together.
What have you learned playing with your kids?
This post was added to the Jenny Evolution Friday Flash Blog, check it out here!