Well, if like me you live in Wales, you’ll be half way through half term by now Yippee!
You’ve probably done the cinema, soft play and visits to Gran’s, you’ve bought half of Asda’s toy aisles and your home is a complete and utter mess.
Like most mums you’re probably willing on Monday and praying there’s no inset day you’ve forgotten!
Well done you for getting through the toughest few days, now it’s time to chill out.
So, here’s 3 ways to help you through the next 3 days!
1) ENCOURAGE BOREDOM
Sometimes, we give our children too much choice, and this can overwhelm them.
We think giving them lots of toys or laying out different types of creativities to do that we’re keeping them occupied, but this can have the opposite effect.
Their choice of what they want to play should be for them to freely choose but if you follow your child’s every desire and whim, then no sooner than getting the paint brushes out, they’ll be onto the play-dough shouting ‘Finished, what’s next?’ continuously flitting from one activity to another.
Sometimes we just have to let them just get on with their own business of playing.
We can’t do this if we keep providing things for them to do. They have to learn how to amuse themselves and become creative.
So, think less is more when it comes to play, less intervention, less toys, and more freedom and imagination.
Toys today are designed to do everything so our children don’t have to think. Dolls now talk, wee, eat, and cry, cars and trains move by themselves powered by batteries, electricity, and computers, nothing is left to imagination anymore. Even physical books are replaced by e-book readers, so there’s no need to even read the words on the page with audio books. Everything is already done for them, but is this better for our children?
We’ve got to allow our children the privilege of boredom so they can discover imaginative play again. There’s not much left to the imagination anymore, so when children are left to play out in the garden, they say there’s nothing to play with. We had no kids TV channels when I was growing up and certainly no computers or phones to ‘play on’ we played out in the rain with fresh air. And I look back fondly on those memories of the ‘good old’ days.
But even today, children can have just as much fun playing in the garden, having picnics in the park, or playing with a cardboard box than they do with a computer. They have to be given these opportunities and experiences though.
The absence of a TV, mobile phone, or computer can make our children feel bored because they’re used to this type of stimulation, and they can’t play alone or even with each other anymore, they just don’t know how to occupy themselves without these props, so they say they’re bored.
I have an answer for that; ‘Only boring people get bored.’
2) CHORES NOT CHOICE
My children learnt early on never to utter those words ‘I’m bored.’ As soon as they did, they knew I would find them a list of things to occupy them, such as cleaning jobs or homework.
On hearing what I had to offer to alleviate their boredom, they suddenly remembered they ‘d lots to be getting on with and got on with it!
Ironically, we help alleviate boredom by allowing them to become bored. This means occasionally removing toys and electronics. This is not a punishment, so to prove that to them, we have to join them in this practice too. This is probably something we’ll struggle with more than our children; I mean can you actually imagine a day without your phone, computer, or TV? You’d fall so behind on the soaps, social media, and junk email!
Boredom would eventually disappear, however, and our children would come to realise all there is naturally around them. They may struggle at first to find things to do, but given the alternative, such as cleaning their bedroom, they’d soon find something to do which is more fun.
What could you be doing that’s more fun instead?
3) JOIN IN
When was the last time you had some real fun playing with your child?
As grownups we have so many rules and we often try to impose these rules on our childrens play. But there’s no rules to playing. We may feel we have to take them to soft play or the cinema so they can ‘be occupied’ or ‘do something’ but what fun is that for us?
Do YOU really have fun watching animated films or watching tired, teary, toddlers fighting over the balls in the ball pit?
Us Time should be about engaging in fun together, it’s not about spending money or going anywhere in particular.
A spontaneous walk in the woods spotting squirrels is just as good as any day out. You can find adventure anywhere when you look for it and you can relearn from your child how to enjoy doing that too. Stick or conker collecting, climbing trees and finding objects hidden in the clouds, are all fun, free ways to engage with your child.
Regardless of what we do with our children, if we’re having fun, then we’re playing.
It’s not the activity that counts, it’s how we feel when we do it.
Genuine play always feels good as it replaces control for freedom, anxiety for laughter, and learning for entertainment.
Stay Present, Em x