Parent-Child Play: What Gets in the Way?

Can I Catch You Laughing?

Dear Fellow Moms,

I know you’re busy. It can be hard to get everything done when running a household, and even crazier if you work outside the home on top of that!

Yet you can find time for play with your kids.  They need it. . .  and so do you.

How much play you and your child need is largely dependent on how playful your household is, overall. A lot of meaningful connecting can happen in passing: a quick tickle or “I’m gonna get you!”; a spontaneous silly face; a quick spin to the music.

In this picture you see my son when, in a five-minute moment, I was goofing around with the camera, trying to catch him smiling when he was strapped in the back of the car in his booster seat.  Isn’t that laugh infectious?

Some days, a minute or two of this kind of play may be all that you can squeeze into your day. Other days, your child may demand more, depending on his or her developmental level or how she feels that day, emotionally or physically.

But when too many days go by without play, do stop and deliberately schedule a play break. Some of the most magical moments will only happen when you stop everything and focus deliberately on your child.  I shared a moment like that in one interview on barriers to parent-child play. Aimee had  begged me to play, and I resisted at first because I felt too busy. Finally I simply took a moment to lay on the floor and watch her during a ten minute coffee break. We connected  in a special way that I still remember vividly, sixteen years later. Now that’s one powerful ten minutes!

We have some of our most playful moments at the dinner table.  This past week I told my husband I needed to take my vitamins, because they help my memory. He said he hadn’t noticed that helping. I said,  “Um, that’s because I keep forgetting to take them.”

Well, as a gray-haired lady who has gone blonde again, that set off a chain of dumb blonde jokes from all of us, including my 13-year old daughter who had some pretty good ones!  Funny, spontaneous moments: I love them.

You don’t want all your parenting memories to be those of exhaustion and frustration. Take some time this week to create family memories of joy and intimacy to counterbalance that.

Can you lighten up this week and laugh. . . even at yourself? Let me know what makes YOU laugh with your family!


You Can Too, Mom!

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