It’s been a long day at work and a long drive home. We are getting back later than I wanted and I am freaking exhausted. You know the kind of tired where your whole body feels heavy, your eyes are watering because of all the yawning and you just want to curl up on the couch and never get up. Yeah, I’m that kind of tired. And the last thing I want to do is engage in a dinosaur battle, build an elaborate train track or play duck duck goose with a dozen stuffed animals. But I do it anyway. But how?? It’s my 10-minute secret. And because we are such good friends, I’ll share it with you…
Due to my profession as well as my own personal struggles with my son I have studied and participated in many parenting programs (including professional behavioral therapy for my son). I have read countless articles and books. And I have spoken to many other professionals in the field. And one thing most all of them have in the common is some sort of parent-child playtime component. Play is so important for kids (just google the benefits of play for kids) and when you add a loving parent into that it becomes even more powerful! Yet, if we’re honest, playing with our kids is something that we rarely do and certainly not something we really want to do (or maybe that’s just me??). Sure as parents we enroll our kids in sports, dance, and other clubs. And we take them on great vacations and other fun outings. And that’s all great, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m talking about is getting back to the basics… simply playing with your child, specifically child-led play. Child-led play is just what it sounds like it. It is when the adult lets the child take the lead and decide what and how to play; we are just along for the ride. How many of us are actually doing this every day? I know I’m not! Unless I am intentional and committed to making it happen.
While playing with our kids takes time and probably isn’t on the top of our to-do list (as much as feed, bath and get the little human to sleep at a decent hour) it is important and reaps major benefits. Spending daily quality time playing with your child (even for a short amount of time) strengthens the parent-child relationship, fulfills a child’s need for attention, builds self-esteem, teaches social/emotional skills, increases positive behaviors and engages the mind and heart of a child. Now that’s some seriously good stuff from just playing! And again it doesn’t have to be a long time. 10 minutes is perfect. Come on momma, you can do anything for 10 minutes!
Tips for daily parent-child play time:
- Give it a name. When this time is labeled it will feel more special and will become treasured by your child. Call it whatever you want… Mommy (insert kid’s name here) Play Time, Special Play Time, Fun Time. Me and my son call it “Special Skyler Time” and he loves it!
- Do it the same time every day. Knowing when it’s happening helps you to be consistent and helps to create a routine for this time. It can also be a helpful motivator when you put it after a less preferred activity. For example… First homework/dinner/bath, then Special Play Time!
- Use a timer. Using a visual timer (Children’s Countdown Timer is an awesome free app to use) helps children see how much time they have and makes ending the playtime easier. It also helps me get pumped up and be more energetic while playing because I can see it’s only for a few minutes.
- Let your child pick what to play. If it were up to me we would play card games or color but that isn’t usually what my son chooses for our time. So even though I don’t want to play dinosaurs for the millionth time, I do. Remember it’s about them not us. And sometimes he’s super sweet and lets me pick what we play!
- Have fun!! I know your tired momma! I know you have a to-do list a mile long! I know there are a million other things you could be doing. But for just 10 minutes let it all go, muster up all the energy you can and have some fun with your kiddo! It can be hard but it is so worth it. And who knows, you might actually end up having some fun.
I challenge you to give it a try this week. Have 10 minutes of parent-child play time every single day and see what happens. I know it has had huge benefits for me and my son (as well as many families I work with). After a week, come back and let me know how it went. I’d love to hear from you! (To comment click the title & scroll down.)
Until next time, Let’s Live Bright!