I recently read a lovely post over at Childhood 101 about a quiet day spent at home playing. At the end of her post, Christie asked a question…
“How much time do you spend truly present in playful interactions with your child or children? How do your structure this time into your daily or weekly routine?”
Hmm… well… let me think about this….
For someone who thinks that play is the most important way a child can learn, I don’t really ‘play’ with my kids very often.
It’s not that I don’t play with my kids at all, ever. Or that I don’t value their play. It’s more that I don’t feel I need to be constantly, actively, part of their play.
I don’t just walk away and l ignore them all day or turn on the electronic babysitters…. On the contrary, I try to be available to my kids as much as possible (though I know I could do better on this, actually I could do better on loads of parenting things but I digress…). I try to provide them with interesting, and appropriate toys and materials and safe, child friendly spaces to use and explore them. I try to encourage and enjoy their play and exploration as much as possible
But for the most part, I am busy doing my ‘work’ -house work, writing, designing, crafting as well as playing with them, while they are busy doing their work – the world of playing and learning.
Our work often over laps.
Almost every afternoon someone helps me to make dinner. Even Muski is an expert veggie chopper! All three kids like to help clean. Izzy’s favourite job is to clean the toilet and Zoe likes to wipe down the kitchen cupboards. The girls can sew in a straight line and Muski likes to collect all the scraps.
Sometimes I join in with their work. Sometimes I join in spontaneously because what they are doing looks like fun to me! Sometimes I am asked to help, or to play a specific role. I’m often invited to be the audience, or play the roll of the witch (I always get to be the baddy). Muski often asks me to build legos with him or to help him set up the train tracks. I love to join in a good dance and playing with our huge animal collection is a favourite activity of mine.
Sometimes we work side by side. Often we all sit around the table with the water colour paints, all working on our own thing. Or we sit together at the big desk in the study – I work on the computer and they draw or write or create next to me.
I love that our worlds overlap in this way. I don’t feel pressured to play games that don’t interest me or to entertain my children all the time, and they are free to learn from my work or invite me into theirs. We learn from each other and play and work together.
Despite the fact that my answer to Christie’s question is probably a little different to some, I love it that made me think and reflect on what I do, how I do it and why, and so I had to share!
Everyone is different, every child and family is different, so what feels right for us (a family who’s kids have never been the only child, a family who’s older kids are the same age with the same interests) won’t feel right for everyone. But isn’t it exciting to read and hear and learn from how everyone else handles this parenting gig!?!?