Do you ever plan on working out but keep putting it off, then when you actually do it, you feel so good after? Playing can be like that. Sometimes you may want to get dinner ready, fold the laundry, make appointments, or drink a coffee, whatever is on your to-do list, it can wait 5 minutes. When someone small says “Will you play with me?” Say yes. just say yes. Don’t say “in a minute” or “not now” or “okay but only for a little bit then I have to do things”. Just say “Yes.”
When you play with your child, you are setting off those feel good sparks in their brain. You are strengthening your bond. You are teaching to take turns, share, learn new words, providing experiences they wouldn’t get if you were doing the dishes.
So say “Yes” and play for 5 minutes. This may turn into 10, 15, 20 minutes or more. Your child will appreciate the time you give them and won’t realize just how long or short it was.
In 5 minutes you can…
play a game of catch,
have a tea party,
make funny faces at each other,
play patty cake,
play a board game,
push cars around,
make pretend soup,
have a dance party,
When those few minutes are up you can slowly back out of the game and encourage your child to play by him or her self by setting up a stuffed animal or doll in your place. You can also weave the playing into wherever you are by asking your child to finish making you tea and bring it to you while you finish an email, have them push a car around the laundry basket and check for lost socks, set her up with a mixing bowl and spoon while you make dinner.
Just to be clear – we can’t play ALL the time. Someone has to be mom. This post is just meant to be a check in. A reminder of how important it is for children to play and how even just a few minutes of your time takes up a big space in their brains.
Now, go play!