Why I Don’t Play With My Kids

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It sounds terrible doesn’t it.  “I don’t play with my kids”.  What a horrible, checked out, selfish mother.  She must not love her kids.  Her kids must not be bonded to her.  But I think I’m not alone and I think that there are many mothers out there forced to play Dora for the millionth time while the dirty dishes are piling up or they just want to read the last chapter of that book and they’re sooooo bored.

Yes, I don’t play with my kids.  First, I should clarify what I do do with my kids beyond caring for their needs.  I read to my kids, I take them for walks and to the park and splash pad.  I help them put together their marble run.  I teach them (of course, since I homeschool), I set up and help them with crafts, I snuggle in my bed with them in the morning and giggle, I roughhouse, I sing to them, I cuddle them, I bake with them, I tell them about when they were little, I comfort them, I push them in the swing, when they were babies I played peekaboo and patty cake and occasionally I play a board game with them.  I do many things with my kids and much of my day revolves around them, but I don’t play with them.

So what do I mean what I say “I don’t play with them”?  I don’t sit down and play Barbies. I don’t act out Frozen.  I don’t play tag at the park.  I don’t play in the sand with them.  I don’t line up cars with them.  I don’t play with the barn with them or the dollhouse.  I don’t pretend to fight monsters with them.  I don’t play restaurant.  I do activities with them but I don’t play like a child with them.  And I believe my children are better for it and I’m happier for it.  My children play independently for hours, since they were babies.  They come up with great imaginative games and I have freedom to do housework and do my own thing, yet we have a wonderful close relationship.

Why don’t I play with my kids?  There are a number of reasons.

1) Frankly, it’s boring.  I love hanging with my kids but it’s insanely boring to play Barbies or to drive cars around or pretend to have a tea party over and over and over.
2) I have things to do.  There’s always housework and laundry and cooking and preparing school materials and things I like to do such as crochet.  There’s paperwork and things to research and well, life is busy.
3) My kids don’t need me to entertain them.  They have learned to entertain themselves and can play for hours and hours without me.  This gives me time to do the things in number 2.
4) I don’t like to inject my adult perception of the world into my kids’ play.  Their minds are so pure and innocent.  I find I just can’t play on the same level as them and feel my adult experiences influence things too much when I try to play.  I’d rather leave them to their own child minded, pure, imaginative play.
5) My kids don’t want me to play with them.  If they catch me watching them play they get embarrassed.  They want to play without any judgement, good or bad, from adults.
6) Play time isn’t teaching time.  There are times for teaching, but pure play should be fully child led and full of exploration, not me trying to show them something or teach them something, taking away the chance for them to discover it themselves.
7) My children play longer, with more concentration and focus, without me.  When I’m involved I often have to interrupt the play to make dinner or deal with something or because I’m bored.  Without me they are free to play for long periods without interruptions.

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I do like to listen to my children play, their play makes me smile and often laugh, but I try not to let them catch me watching.  And I have the advantage of having my kids 18 months apart so they have a ready playmate.  Daycare also brings in new friends to play with.  I’ve worked hard on creating an environment that promotes play.  Open ended, battery free, quality toys, an organized playroom, toys that engage, limiting the toys so it’s not overwhelming, a safe outdoor place to play.  Play is very important to me.  So important that I feel my children’s play is better without me in it, only there when needed and creating the opportunity and environment for it.  I’m like the stage hand, in the background of their performance.

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Safe, Edible Slime

Having a 2 year old who likes to taste an array of weird and gross things, I really appreciate sensory play recipes that are safe to ingest.  Though I don’t recommend letting your little one chow down on this slime (plus it doesn’t exactly taste wonderful) if they were to try a sample, it won’t hurt them.

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This slime is just so fun to play with.  It’s gooey, slimy, shiny, squishy, stretchy, wiggly, bouncy and it doesn’t stick to your hands so the mess is limited (bonus!)  And, you only need 2 ingredients!

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What you’ll need:

1 tbsp Metamucil

1 cup Water

Food colouring (optional)

Mix the above ingredients in a large microwavable bowl (larger than you think you’ll need).  Put it in the microwave on high for 5 mins.  It should boil over the top of the bowl.  Remove and let cool slightly.  It should be gel like.  If needed microwave for another 3-5 mins.  Dump onto a surface to cool – careful, it’s really hot!  Once cool to touch, it’s time to play!

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This kept my daycare kids entertained for an hour!  A whole hour, it was amazing.  We put it in a ziplock bag after for them to take home.

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Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook for lots of ideas for play, articles on play and learning and more!

www.facebook.com/pumpkinsandme

Real Tools

My daycare kids and Pumpkins love to play doctor.  This play is enhanced with the use of real doctors tools.

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I had to sneak the photo so I wouldn’t disrupt their play.

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Waldorf promotes using natural toys that aren’t too realistic to inspire the imagination and to not awaken the dreamlike state of the child whereas Reggio encourages the use of real tool for children.  It’s up to you which way you lean for your family.  Here is a wonderful Reggio inspired blog that discusses real tools:

http://www.playathomemomllc.com/2013/12/creating-play-spaces/

I purchased our doctor’s kit tools from Amazon.  Click the picture for the Amazon link.

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I also put in some medicine measuring spoons and medicine dispensers that look like a needle I picked up from the grocery store pharmacy section.

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What are some other real tools you could give to your children to enhance the depth of their play?

Great sites for inspiration

http://theimaginationtree.com/

http://www.playathomemomllc.com/

These two sites have tons of great activities you can do with children from babies to preschool.  They’re  more in the Reggio Emilia school of thought on education but they compliment the Montessori activities.

When I decided I wanted to do Montessori with my children, I was overwhelmed.  There are so many materials (expensive ones too) and ideas that I didn’t know where to begin.  What activities do I focus on with my daughter?  What materials should I purchase?  What ones can I make?  I didn’t know where to start.  But I found this “curriculum” (if that’s the right word for it) http://www.montessoriathomebook.com/Home.html/  I ordered the e-book (at only $10)  and it’s AMAZING!  It has everything I was looking for.  The philosophy of Maria Montessori, what I should buy, what activities to do at what age, other materials that are great, books, even aps to download for children.  And tons and tons and tons of DIY activities.  There are also links to blogs and stores.  I highly recommend it for anyone who is thinking of doing Montessori at home.

This morning we played with the Magnetic Mighty Mind.  It’s great for working on shapes and matching.  I like the magnetic set because the pieces stay in place for little hands.  I gave her a cookie sheet to play on.  The set comes in a tin and you can put the cards in the lid and work on it as well.  I was surprised because last time she played with it she didn’t get the matching concept, but today she was doing it.

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