My New Play Guidelines

There are times when I will not play with my children. Seriously, there are children’s games that I simply do not have the patience for. For example, I will never be a person who can play ‘pretend’ with children for hours on end. I simply can’t stand it. I will not have tea parties with them or play dress up.

I’ve started to feel that there isn’t anything wrong with admitting this. If play is supposed to be fun, then I need to be having fun too. And I don’t have fun playing ‘school’ for an hour with a five-year-old and nearly two-year-old. There are some parents who do enjoy these activities. That’s great, but it’s not me.

Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of activities that I do enjoy doing with girls. We do play together. But I’ve stopped trying to force myself to enjoy all their games. Instead, I make sure that I participate in games that are fun for me too. I enjoy colouring with the Bear, for example. And I love exploring and discovering nature with them – like a recent trip when I helped them catch about 20 leeches from the lake.

Here are my new play guidelines:

1. If I’m not having fun, I don’t push myself to endure the activity.
2. I make an effort to do things with the girls that we all enjoy.
3. I try to come up with activities that they love, but are combined with getting things done. Hence, bath time for the stuffies. Pete (the sheep in the picture) is Banana’s favourite. He gets filthy as she drags him everywhere. So I made the animals a bubblebath in the backyard and the girls washed their animals. Ta-da, playtime that also accomplishes something. Best activity ever!

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8 Responses to “My New Play Guidelines”


  1. 1 chase your dreams movie July 26, 2013 at 9:03 am

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  2. 2 espresso machines July 20, 2013 at 6:48 am

    Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Very useful information specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this certain info for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  3. 3 Koala Bear Writer August 23, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I struggle with this too! My daughters want me to play with them, but I don’t have fun doing what they want to play. I can do it for short times — like the other day when my 3-year-old wanted me to play play-doh with her — but then I lose interest and want to move on to something else. I struggle with this sometimes, feeling like a bad mommy for wanting to read blogs instead of spend time with my daughter. What you said about everyone having fun makes sense, though. Some things we do together are fold the laundry (they like to play in my closet or bounce on my bed while I’m putting clothes away) or clean the bathroom (they can “wash” the walls or the tub with little washcloths or play with the bath tub toys). And I like colouring and painting too. So maybe I’ll work harder on finding ideas that we all like to do. 🙂

    • 4 Mama Tortoise August 23, 2011 at 11:30 am

      Thanks for commenting! It’s sad that we (society) think that a ‘bad’ Mommy is someone who wants to do things that are separate from the kids. When, really, I think it might be worse to be a Mom that wants to do EVERYTHING with the kids! It’s striking that balance so that we all enjoy each other.

  4. 5 Michelle August 3, 2011 at 4:06 am

    What timing! I was just discussing this with a friend yesterday. What is it that makes us feel like “bad” parents when we don’t enjoy playing with out children? I don’t need to play house or school….been there, done that in real life. Pretend play is a huge part of being a kid, but it is definitely not something that I enjoy. There are so many others things that I love to do with my boys – art projects, baking, reading, card games, Lego, exploring the great outdoors and other outings. The boys seem to understand this now and will engage each other in their imaginative scenarios (to which I may occasionally play a minor role or provide a prop). I love your guidelines – it lends itself to the saying “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” Play should be fun for everyone involved…or it becomes a chore.

    • 6 Mama Tortoise August 3, 2011 at 9:52 am

      HI Michelle,

      Yup…. if Mom isn’t happy…

      It’s interesting that kids eventually learn what we will or will not play with them. The Bear and Banana have learned what play I will participate in and what play I won’t participate in. My mother always told me that a child’s favourite toy is a parent – it may be true but it doesn’t mean that I need to be available 24/7.

      Thanks for commenting!
      -Laura

  5. 7 Chrissy August 3, 2011 at 3:16 am

    Love your blog, always reading the latest post, always so delighted and feel so connected to the ideas presented here.

    In our house Dad’s the one that does most of the pretend play, playing for hours with action figures, wrestling with pillows and teddy bears, playing chase and hiding games. And me, I’m more of the one to do crafts, read books, puzzles, and get them to help with baking, cooking, cleaning (which can be like play for little ones). I like that my play with them is genuine because it is what I like to do too. I like that my children learn that you can do different things with different people. I like that my children play together and don’t always need an adult to play along. And I love that we all come together to play in active ways (at the park, in the snow, in the water, etc).

    • 8 Mama Tortoise August 3, 2011 at 9:48 am

      Hi Chrissy,

      Thanks for commenting! You’re so right to point out the importance of doing different activities with different people – that Dad does the wrestling, for example. Play should be genuine and parents shouldn’t feel guilty when they aim for this.

      -Laura


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