I used to fall into the trap of just doing the basics and calling it a day. I made sure the kids were clean, they got their meals, they were taken to their practices and games, their homework got done, and they were in bed at a reasonable time. I concentrated on the essentials; life was too hectic to add anything else to our busy family schedule. However, day after day of predictability, and yes, some boredom with the routine, made me realize that my priorities might be skewed.
Whenever I took the time to enter my kids’ world, I was usually fascinated by their imagination and creativity, which in turn, sparked mine. What joy I had playing Poly Pocket, Hungry Hippo, and arranging furniture in the Playmobil doll house with them. They loved playing “restaurant” and taking our orders. We would always try to come up with the weirdest food! These are treasured memories I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t stopped and let them take the reins for a while.
Before you know it, your children will want to be off with their friends, and you’ll be left at home anxiously awaiting their return. Believe me, it will come all too soon, so take the time to enter your child’s world and see what fascinating discoveries you’ll make together!
Three ideas to incorporate play into your day:
- Word games (great for car rides):
- Would you Rather. There are lists online you can print to keep in the car.
- A to Z of Animal Names. Kids can even make up an animal if they tell what it looks like and what it can do. Make it more interesting by having each person list every animal named when it is their turn.
- Going to the Market One per person starts by saying, “I’m going to the market and I’m going to buy ___.” The next person repeats the sentence and adds an item. Take turns reciting the list and adding items. If someone misses an item, they are out.
- Make up a story.
- One person starts the story by saying one sentence and the next person adds a sentence, making the situation better or worse.
- Cloud pictures
- Find a face, animal, or shape in the clouds (my personal favorite).
The possibilities are endless. All it takes is your willingness to seize the moment and connect with your child on their level in a fun and imaginative way.
Kayla J.W. Marnach is the author of the Can-Do Kids Series, picture books that help parents, caregivers, teachers, and counselors have the toughest of conversations with children.