Don't Forget to Play
I've been reminded a lot lately about the power of play, laughter and lightheartedness. I get so wrapped up with life and the pressure (often placed by myself) to parent perfectly and discipline and use every moment as a teaching moment. When your life is as busy as mine is, as all of our lives are, the time you have that isn't spent working and tending to the stuff of life often feels limited. It's easy to spend what little free time we have checking out, watching TV and barking more orders at our kids.
When what they really need is to play. And breathe. And move. And explore.
It's too easy to become irritated with the thousands of hey mommy, mommies and respond with a frustrated, "Whaaatt?" I am finding it makes a huge difference in the attitude of my kids when I'm able to respond playfully, with a smile, or a tickle, or a silly face, or a joke, or as my Alec loves, in a song. Lately, he's been singing everything he says to me in the tune of "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" from the Disney movie Frozen.
Get this, when I am lighthearted and not so serious with my kids they're a lot less stressed and misbehave less. Or maybe it's just me that's less stressed. It's hard to be serious when you start climbing on playground equipment designed for children half your size. Or in my case 3/4 your size!
It could be even that they are acting exactly the same, and I'm just perceiving their behavior differently. Either way, it sure feels a lot nicer than playing drill seargent!
The trick is you really have to let them be them.
Let them be loud (when it's appropriate).
Let their personalities come out loud and clear.
You may be surprised at what you find in them, and in yourself. When I took my littles to Helmerich park near 71st and Riverside a few weeks ago, my 8 year old quickly grew bored with the playground equipment and wanted to dig in the dirt. I just sat and watched him and reminisced myself. When I was his age, I spent a good chunk of each recess time digging a huge hole on the outskirts of the playground. I couldn't even tell you why. I wasn't trying to create something, or dig to China. I was literally just digging a hole, and wanted it to be the biggest, best hole you ever saw!
On the outside play doesn't always make sense, but it doesn't have to. It think it's the nonsense that sets us free. When your kids are toddlers, your life is filled with play and the park is a second home. But as they get older, it's easy to forget to play, at least it is for me. I'm finding a new freedom in my journey as a parent as I remember to not take things so seriously, and just play.
See you around town!