Updated: May 20, 2020
We grownups sometimes forget the importance of play. In our noble quest to be mindful parents we can end up trying to fill our child’s every waking moment with educational stimulation & after-school activities.
Now with more of us trying to work full-time from home with our children also home on lock-down, the situation is begging more loudly for change. We cannot sustain entertaining our children 24/7.
But that's a good thing.
Children need good quantities of indoor and outdoor play as part of their daily routines. And while we should spend quality time interacting with our baby, child, or teen- they do not need us to continually interject or entertain them.
Play, in and of itself provides a wealth of education. Independent play is an integral part of developing creativity, critical thinking, confidence and a strong sense of self.
It is through independent play that their minds & bodies become engaged in life. It is how they discover the world around them. And how they begin to develop social skills like cooperation, sharing, & empathy.
Through play young children learn basic scientific laws such as gravity and cause-and-effect, even before they go to school and learn the terms. And life tools like spatial reasoning, problem-solving, and resilience. Play provides a positive outlet to express thoughts and feelings, exert physical activity, refine large and fine motor skills...and so much more!
Remember, what may look like idleness or nonsensical repetition to you and me is actually your child actively working at developing the basic foundations for everything else they will ever learn. Let that sink in.
By playing they are not being lazy. By setting aside much of the day for them to play alone or with their siblings or peers, YOU are not being lazy.
Don’t be afraid to designate some tech-free time to your child’s play. Give them a box, some art or fort making supplies. Or simply kick them outside for a while, and see what they create, discover & explore.
There are new studies that show the need and benefit of allowing your child to become bored. Because boredom provides the perfect opportunity to be creative, resourceful and imaginative.
So parents, make sure your child has plenty of time each day to play.
And after allowing your child plenty of independent play, reward them and yourself, with the joy of playing together.
Because we adults benefit from playtime as well.
Take advantage of a more flexible work environment and schedule, use the opportunity to be in the moment. Take a few minutes to dance around to your favorite song, go outside and get dirty, be silly, and have fun!