Be the parent who plays
Did you know The United Nations rights for Children includes the right to play? Along with lots of other very important rights, 54 to be precise; ‘Children have the right to relax, play and to join in a wide range of leisure activities.’
Children don’t say ‘Mum I’ve had a hard day’ they say “Mum, come play?” what do you do when your child says this? It’s tricky you could be in the middle of dinner, working from home or just needing to drink a hot coffee but I truly believe that when you can, you should sometimes stop what you are doing and play. I’ve recently read how important it is to make eye contact while breastfeeding babies instead of texting (brexting – yeap that’s now a thing!) we are being encouraged to engage with them during this precious time to create that everlasting bond. From this young age till old age, we need to continue strengthening our bonds and playing will help.
To be present is a challenge that’s for sure, we all have so much going on and so many things we need to do and up until this point we have mastered and excelled at multi-tasking. This skill; to always do more than one thing at a time which is often looked upon as a requirement for business and even for motherhood is where we sometimes to fail our children. They require the opposite; they need our undivided attention (sometimes); they need us to play.
Sit on the floor and join in on what they are doing, make chores into a game or my best piece of advice is get out of the house, then you will not be distracted. Let your child guide or choose what they would like to do, be a tourist in your own city have you been on a roller-coaster or patted a Kangaroo lately? I write down a list of things that I would like to experience with my child for example; a nature walks, check out a new playground or a beach you haven’t been to in ages. This is handy when you aren’t feeling inspired or feel like you have already run out of ideas. You could make suggestion to your child, based on any free community events.
If you find it difficult to think of ways to engage with your child why not enrol in a weekly class for younger children try; music, art or swimming one that you can participate in. If your child is older this could be more of a challenge as they might already have their activities (and friends) booked in. I would suggest gifting them (or even ask for this as a gift from them) a class to do together as a birthday present something like a trapeze or skateboarding lesson or cooking class (bonus life skill here). Perhaps start a hobby together; why not learn a new skill, sport or volunteer together.
There might be people who are thinking but my parents never played, we were told to go outside and come back at lunch. And this is a fair point to not put pressure on yourself when you do need to get things done or need a break we, as adults certainly can’t play all day everyday but I think the big difference here is families were larger, communities were tighter so kids would play and learn with others. I’m also not saying that you need to arrange every part of their day, please do not go filing up their childhood with too many activities. Unstructured play is often when the magic happens, let the imagination run wild, let them be bored and don’t feel like you need to entertain them, I would like to see you join them and this is what this blog is about.
We cannot expect our children to give us their attention, their undivided attention away from their busy playing, learning and exploring life if we do not give the same respect. This is a tough one as we have been told for most of our adult lives to do more than one thing at once. So next time you hear the ‘Mum come play’ see if you can stop what you are doing and join them. Next time your child isn’t listening or looking at you when you are trying to talk to them, ask yourself did you stop and ask them face to face or were you in the middle of sorting washing whilst yelling out from the other room.
It is World Children’s Day; 20 November, normally if someone had said this to me, I would have said ha, its children’s day everyday but now as a Mother and a Business Owner who wants everyone to play daily I have looked into what this means;
‘Children have their rights denied every single day. We want to build a world where every child is in school and learning, safe from harm and able to fulfil their potential, and we know you do too. It's time to put children back on the agenda.’
Sign the petition and use #GoBlue to show your supportive posts to call on world leaders to commit to fulfilling the rights of every child and acknowledge that these rights are non-negotiable.
When people see me playing chases or sliding on the slides at the park and I get some puzzled looks or judgement and truth be told, when it comes to all the decisions I make as a Mother my answer is always the same; in 5-10+ years my child might not want to play, cook, sleep with, hug me so I will lap it up now while I can.
Playfully skip and dance daily,