Hello! I’m very excited about this post! I have a friend named Stephanie Surjan who is a fellow mom blogger and she offered to do a guest post for me as I recover from giving birth to our third baby and first son, Joseph Patrick. This post is all about how to be a more playful parent and I know you’ll find her suggestions very helpful! Please check out Stephanie’s blogging website for more great blog posts about motherhood, self-care, and gentle parenting!
Is Being a Playful Parent Important?
It can be challenging knowing how to be a more playful parent if it’s not your norm, especially if you are experiencing mom burnout. It’s hard to practice a new skill (being playful) if we are always running on a low rank. That is why I am going to share what I do to help foster playfulness in myself as an adult. Below you’ll read bite size tips to conquer the play with your child.
Playing is a huge part of children’s lives and it’s how they express and process experiences (just think play therapy). Playing with your child opens those gates into their world and thoughts. I believe that a parent that plays regularly with their children can more easily understand what their child is going through and address life stressors before they become a behavioral problem. (Gentle Parenting techniques also help parents be in tune to their children’s emotional needs).
11 Tips to Being a More Playful Parent
If you are like most adults, your playful mind is a bit rusty. Having a child that wants to continuously play with you though will slowly but surely strengthen your creative muscle which inherently will make you more playful.
I can’t say that I really enjoy all the games my son usually wants to engage in, but with time, it has become easier. Using these 11 tips below has helped me be a more playful parent:
- Change your frame of mind. Tell yourself as a mantra: “I am a fun parent” and you will start to act accordingly.
- Don’t over schedule yourself. You can’t have fun with your kids if you are constantly stressed over a busy schedule.
- Practice self care. A happier you is a more playful you too.
- Put a timer on. I will usually do either 30 or 60 minutes. This gives me a chance to stop everything else and fully focus on my child.
- Break the “rules” sometimes. Go have ice cream for dinner one evening, or let your kid do something you otherwise would not allow. Sometimes the norm can make us stagnant. Spice it up!
- Get down on their level. Eye contact at the same height can be comforting for a child who desires 1:1 attention with their parents.
- Show interest in what they are into at the moment. Ask questions about their toys, shows, or activity they are engaging in.
- Do something spontaneous. Try out a new playground, change up your usual routine one day or take them out to dinner when they think they’ll be eating at home.
- Be present when playing (put your phone away). This can be hard, but a timer helps so you don’t feel like playing with your child will never end.
- Be physical with them, like wrestling, pillow fights or chasing. Similar to getting to their level, this type of play can be fun for both parent and child. The bond will fill the emotional cup of your child who wants to play with you most of the time.
- Don’t worry. They love you for you! Most importantly, your child already thinks you are the best parent in the world, so the only expectations that exist are the one’s being set by yourself (and that of social media…..)
Being Fun is Really a State of Mind
There are two points of view to each reality: the positive and the negative. The way we speak to ourselves will greatly impact how we feel about our days. If you continuously focus on everything else you want to accomplish when your toddler comes begging you to play with them, it will be harder to genuinely engage in play.
Instead, think of all the positives that come with playing with your child. For example, I will sometimes say to myself: “the dishes will always need to be put away, but I’ll never get this day back again to bond with my child”. If my son wants to play something I really don’t enjoy, I will give myself an amount of time (20-30min) that I fully focus on before encouraging we do something else.
5 Main Issues that lead Parents to Struggle with Being Playful
It’s fun to have children at home. We enjoy watching them grow and as parents, the labor is truly one of love. However, our modern life is complex and sometimes 24 hours just doesn’t seem like enough time to achieve everything we want for the day. Playing with our children can at times seem superfluous when faced with responsibilities such as paying the bills and keeping the house in order.
Being playful then has to become a choice. These are 5 common reasons you might be struggling with being a playful parent:
- You are distracted by adult life stressors.
- The feeling of not knowing how to play can be intimidating.
- There could be pressure to always include “learning” activities into play (this is not necessary).
- Parents often feel tired.
- Children sometimes want to play the same thing on repeat for long periods of time.
It’s Not just You
We are human, and with that imperfect. Even if you really want to be that fun parent, that doesn’t mean being fun ALL THE TIME. You can be boring at times, tired at times, or simply distracted and that is OK.
The important lesson to remember here is that you will always be the perfect playmate in your child’s eyes. I try to have a meaningful 30-60 minutes with my toddler once a day. Sometimes it’s more. Sometimes it’s less, and that’s OK. The secret to becoming a playful parent is practice. Play is a muscle, the more you use it, the more it will become a natural part of who you are.
Written By: Stephanie Surjan | Mama Questions
I hope you found this post just as helpful as I did! Thank you, Stephanie! Mamas, What is one take away you have after reading this post?
Until next time,
The One Blessed Mama,