If there’s one thing all kids can’t get enough, it’s their love for play. This obsession with playing is great because, as it turns out, it’s mainly through play that our peewees learn about the world around them.
It’s also very often through play that kids connect with others. When little Sam realises his classmate loves digging for worms just as much as he does, he’ll want to hang out with his newfound BFF all the time.
The same logic applies to how kids connect with adults as well. Very often, what differentiates an adult who’s good with kids from an adult who isn’t is how playful and goofy they are willing to get.
When you get playful, you are literally entering your child’s world ― instead of dragging them into yours. This works like magic when you’re trying to foster stronger bonds with junior. When you are more connected with your child, you will see amazing results. You will be more in tune to his or her needs; you’ll able to get through to them and even discipline becomes easy. Because, who doesn’t want to make someone they really adore happy?
When you get playful, you are literally entering your child’s world ― instead of dragging them into yours.
Dads, for some reason seem to do better at being playful than mums. Maybe it’s because most men are just more laidback or are still connected to their inner child. Another possible explanation is that mums take on the role of primary caretaker from the get go and are too busy juggling responsibilities to place importance on playfulness.
Indeed, how does one, in the world of bills, responsibilities and work stress, find ways to be playful with their children? Here are some very easy ways to incorporate a sense of fun and humour into your everyday life.
#1 Master the art of being silly
It’s definitely easier to do this if you were born with a silly bone, although make sure you don’t “misplace” it after motherhood beckons. Otherwise, it’s a skill you’ll have to hone over time. Shed the serious mum persona every chance possible and put on your funny hat. If junior’s sulking over his “yucky” dinner and you’ve tried everything in your power to get him to eat, make a silly face at your little fella to break the tension or give each food a silly name. E.g. “Why don’t you want to try Mr. Bonkers the bean?”. Your child might still not take a bite, but they’ll probably burst out laughing. Knowing it’s not the end of the world if they didn’t try a new food might also encourage them to do better next time. Plus, you don’t end up turning meal times into a war zone, which is always a good thing.
#2 Show genuine enthusiasm
Kids love to do the same thing over and over again. Adults on the other hand don’t. So we hear you when you say it’s hard to show the same level of interest after playing hide-and-seek every day for an entire week – and especially when your kid hides in the same spot every.single.time! So, how do you remain present in an activity you’re doing with junior, even if you’re not feeling it? You’ll need to exercise your excellent parenting skills ― find ways to make it interesting for you as well. If blowing bubbles is your cutie’s go-to activity this month, then find more interesting places to blow them, buy different types of bubble blowers, or better yet, make your own bubble soap! Fun for junior, fun for you, fun for everyone!
#3 Inject fun into everyday tasks
Fun doesn’t have to be confined to only play time. Little ones are playful all day long ― so can you. Sometimes, you can even make it work to your advantage by tapping into your tyke’s competitive nature. Race junior to see who can put on their shoes faster every morning – no more dilly dallying and everyone starts their day off on a positive note. Long car rides driving your kiddo crazy? Crank up the music, start singing or play car games. Sometimes, it can even be as simple as giving a dramatic reading of The Gruffalo during bedtime. As you can see, you can be playful anytime, anywhere ― it’s all about being creative.
Wash the dirty dishes, answer e-mails and WhatsApp messages later, mummy, because you should always answer “yes” to playtime requests!
#4 Be available always
An unavailable mother is a mother who misses out on a lot in her child’s life. If you keep replying, “mummy is busy, not right now” whenever junior asks to play with you, at some point you’ll realise he has stopped asking you. As much as you’re entitled to your “me time” and you have responsibilities that need to be taken care of, always find time to be present for your peewee. Truth is, they will only want to play with you for a few years before they morph into brooding tweenagers. So, make the most of these precious years, you will never get them back. Wash the dirty dishes, answer e-mails and WhatsApp messages later, mummy, because you should always answer “yes” to playtime requests!
#5 Be flexible
Mums are known for doing everything by the book. Keeping to a routine and rules is what makes us so great at our jobs. However, when you enter your child’s world of play, there’s only one rule ― there are no rules! Let junior take the lead in choosing the activity and how it should be carried out ― it’ll encourage them to be creative and hone their leadership skills. Even if the game seems to be going nowhere (in your opinion), resist the urge to insist that it should be done your way. Who knows, when you let go, you might learn a thing or two about free play and how it can also boost your creativity!
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