Are you a bad parent if you avoid playtime with your children?
Should you avoid playtime with your kids? Being real is very important to two point four and one of the risks in doing this is the likelihood that some readers won’t agree with what we have to say. But that is ok. Not everyone will think our trips are for them and some people won’t see the difference between what we do and what you can get at on a resort-style holiday.
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So, if you spend all day at work, where your boss or co-workers chip away at your soul, little by little, does coming home to “mummy will you play with me?” fill you with joy and guilt-ridden dread?
Play games with me
Let’s face it, play time with your children is not always fun. It can very quickly feel like a never ending meeting where every time you think it is drawing to a close, another scenario raises its head and has to be dealt with.
After several hours of building a train track, adding new routes, overcoming complex engineering problems so that 3 bridges can criss cross each other, the end is in sight when the train finally sets off on its maiden trip and one successful loop without incident is achieved. Job done? Not a chance. The track can only be declared safe for use after 322 loops, each one with its own paw patrol rescue mission taking place.
The other issue parents have to contend with is what “play games with me” actually means. For most adult sized people, this involves interacting, sharing ideas and working together. But for kids, oh no no no. Don’t make any assumptions. Here is a typical conversation during playtime
Son: “Dad, do you want to be Spiderman, Superman or Batman?
Dad: “Ah Batman please”
Son: “No I am Batman”
Dad: “Ok then Spiderman please”
Son: “No way, I am Spiderman”
Dad: “Ok , then I WILL BE SUPERMAN”
Son: “Yeah no, I want to be Superman too”
Sounds familiar? You won’t be the first parent to feel like a ‘spare part’ during this family play time and don’t even think about trying to steer the direction of a game. Not happening. Nope. Never.
One bonus of you participating is that someone needs to tidy up don’t they?
Invaluable for children’s social development
Whilst it can feel like this is your only role, just stop for a minute and consider this:
Children explore and learn about the world through play; a chance to learn, a way to release emotions, to feel safe and develop important life skills.
As a baby, the bond between you and your child came through feeding, contact, singing and holding each other. As they develop into toddlers and older children, developing that bond is all about play time. Watching how they use their imagine, structure projects or approach a puzzle is a fantastic way to see your child’s personality grow.
It is not easy as a child to communicate with adults in a clear and concise manner. Actually, a lot of time it is not easy for adults to communicate with adults in this manner. If children feel safe, which they do during parent-child play time, they are more likely to share their thoughts and feelings and grow a relationship built on trust and understanding. Try and remain focussed and don’t let your phone or emails get in the way of this time.
During play time, scenarios may arise that seem a bit strange to adults. It is worth noting that these might be related to incidents that have occurred at school or nursery and the child wasn’t sure about how to react. This play time is the opportunity for them to see how it should have been handled and look to their parents for guidance. This might be how to resolve conflict or how to make interact with people. Having a safe and trusting environment to do this is invaluable for children’s social development.
So the next time you hear those often repeated words, “will you please play with me?” try and take a deep breath, be prepared to give away an hour (at least) of your life and throw yourself head first into the sometimes crazy and weird imagination that your child has developed and of course by ready to clear up 700 lego pieces. Again.