If you research the topic of child’s play, the internet is a myriad of conflicting opinions.
There are so many articles with differing viewpoints regarding the amount of involvement parents should have. Some experts tell us we need to play with our children all the time, to establish stronger connections and security. Others state we should not be involved as much, to allow children to develop independent play skills. We are also told they need a certain number of hours of outdoor play every day, a high level of physical activity, reading time, down time, no screen time, and play that is purposeful in order to develop gross/fine motor skills, creativity, imagination, turn taking or trust. It’s a minefield!
So, exactly how much involvement should a mother have? Many mums feel guilty that they don’t play with their children enough. With modern parenting, we’re expected to be present, effective and involved all the time.
Some mums are naturally creative, and enjoy baking, art and craft with their children. But for other mums, the prospect of pipe cleaners, glitter, glue and paint just sparks fear. Others worry that they don’t actually know how to play with their child. They feel silly and uncomfortable doing role play, or don’t enjoy repetitive games with unreasonable rules, or struggle to come up with ideas. If you fall into this category, don’t worry – there are plenty of other activities you can do! Children love attention, and will feel special and valued if you ask them to play, by sitting and doing a quiet activity together. Choose something you’ll both enjoy – some activities can actually be therapeutic! At Mumzworld, we like:
Board Games – depending on your child’s age
Play Doh Activity Buckets and Play sets
Zuru Oosh Sand Series
SmartMax Magnetic Discovery Sets
Easy card making with Melissa and Doug Stamp Kit
Children also enjoy participating in physical activities with you. It’s doesn’t need to be difficult. Throwing and catching, swimming, or going for a walk to look for leaves or bugs are classified as play.
As with most other aspects of parenting, it’s about finding that balance, and what works for you with your lifestyle and circumstances. Busy, structured family and school schedules, work, homework and housework all contribute to a natural decline in available play time. There is no hard and fast rule for exactly how much time our children need for play with us. Try to bring some balance to the situation. Some days are easier than others to find time, and some days you can barely get dinner on the table. For those days, it’s not the end of the world if you need to implement a little extra screen time or independent play – you can always catch up with parent play on another day. On quieter days, relax your schedule, prioritise your child and ask them to play! They’ll love it. As long as their week has a good mix of learning, exercise, social play and some precious play time with you, they (and you!) are doing fine.