Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Play Day

PhDinParenting's Carnival of Play is going on until the 15th! Check out the other posts!

"A child's job is to play."

I don't remember where I heard/read that, but I do remember that when I did first come across that idea last year, it was life-changing for me. It doesn't sound life-changing, I know, but it did. It has made me a much more relaxed mom.

Since then, when Margaret gets into various cabinets making a mess, pulls down all my books from my shelf, scatters all the junk mail, and unravels all my yarn, I remember this: what she is doing is EXACTLY what she's supposed to be doing. It's easier to not get frustrated when I use this perspective. She's supposed to get into things and have fun. It's her JOB.

And she's rather good at her job.

So today I did a little experiment: I wondered what would happen if I played with Margaret the entire day. I expected my day to just be a never-ending energy sapper, but I quickly learned that Margaret really does enjoy her free-play time. In the morning after some play time, I noticed that she was more interested in my wide variety of knitting needles than me, so I decided I'd back off and let her play with those on her own, but I would sit nearby available if she needed me- and she did come to me when she wanted to nurse. I observed these periods of playing by herself over the entire day, and I discovered I had a lot of free time- more than I thought I would.

I don't know a lot about play and the scientific studies around it, but I'm going to assume that her individual play time without me is normal. It's either that or a sign that I've been ignoring her too much. I'll have to read Playful Parenting.

I also watched McKay with her in the evening. I was working on cutting up some vegetables for dinner and she was at my feet indicating that she wanted to be picked up by tugging on my pant legs. I asked McKay to come get her and instead of just coming and getting her like I expected, he turned it into a little chase game where he sneaked up and stole her away. She has a lot of fun with her daddy.

I also learned more about where she is at developmentally. She loves to mimic- even trying to snap during a song. She brings books to me to read and once I've done reading it, she'll flip through the pages mumbling to herself- I assume she's reading. She's also fascinated with whatever book I'm reading and will flip through my books despite the fact that there are no pictures. She also loves to sing and dance with songs. Also, we had more EC success since I was so attentive to her all day. At one point, I went to help her off the potty and she signed "potty" and made the potty sound telling me she wasn't done, and sure enough, she wasn't!

Our Play Day was a lot of fun- and it wouldn't take much to make every day a Play Day and still get some of the chores done especially since I don't really get them all done on normal days. It was a great little experiment and I think I'll try it more often.


  1. Great post!

    I've read Playful Parenting and he uses the analogy of a cup. When you interact with your child through play, their attention cup is filled. Then they are quite happy, or maybe even prefer, to go off on their own. As I recall the point is that sometimes we defer play because we don't have time. Then we end up spending more time dealing with behaviour issues or what have you than if we had just spent 20 minutes on the floor with our kid in the first place.

  2. You must have had such a fun day!

    I've never had a Play Day, when I play with Soren all day but we often do a Tune-In-Mom! Day, which is when I forgo the distractions of books and internet. On those days, I try to make myself maximally available and only do tasks that he can be included in (he loves to help with the dishes!). I spend a lot of time talking to him and listening to him on those days and it feels wonderful!

    The best thing about Tune-In Days is that I don't actually get less done. My important household tasks are all things he can be included in (dinner, dishes, tidying up). I just substitute some of my more frivolous pursuits with playtime.

  3. Great post - and what an adorable kiddo! She has such beautiful eyes and a sunny smile! I think you are a wonderful mother, and I hope to use some of your advice when my husband and I have children someday.

  4. What an awesome idea! That sounds like so much fun!


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