"I am not my child's playmate, I am his parent" a mother announced in our playgroup. Many in the group echoed her thought with similar comments such as, "It is not my job to entertain him all day!" My first thought was, "I can tell you as the mother of an only child I am my son's main playmate." My second thought was, "Wow. Play is really important to me and my son. Am I doing something wrong?"
We can all understand the sense of exhaustion these mothers felt. However, what was lacking in that conversation, and what is lacking in some current discussions about play, is the distinction between play and entertainment. Entertainment and play are not synonymous. 3 Ways To Help Your Kids Build Self-Esteem & Confidence
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Entertainment is one person presenting their creative work to another while play is collaborative and interactive. Entertaining our children is exhausting, but play is not to blame. Play is the act of entering into the creative space either by yourself or with another, ordering it into something new, looking at it and then re-entering the world with new knowledge. Play is the creative process. Play is energizing.
Entering the creative process is a skill that is needed by both adults and children. While play comes naturally to children, it is seen as suspect in adults. If you doubt this, think about the typical answer to the question, "What have you been doing lately?"
Most people will say how hard they are working or how busy they are. What would you think if someone answered the question with "I've been playing around." Let's face it, for most of us the first answer is more appropriate, more acceptable, more laudable, and the playing is seen as a waste of time if not downright lazy. 10 Ways To Keep Your Kids From Growing Up Too Fast
The hardest thing about playing with my son was giving myself permission to do it. You see, I am a recovering "very serious person." I wasn't always a very serious person, in fact, as a child I was quite silly. Somehow along the way I learned that in order to be taken seriously, I had to be practical, down to earth, slightly cynical, realistic…
Then I had my son and I realized that I did not want him to be raised in a "very serious way." If we are to see the return of play in our children, we need to embrace and honor their creativity by embracing our own. Play cannot be a dirty word.
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As adults, many of us aim to be working or consuming entertainment all the time. In doing so, we subtly downplay the value of play and think that our children need to be eternally occupied in productive pursuits. Music: The Way To Better Sleep For Your Baby
Lately, many wonderful articles have been written about the vital importance of free play in the lives and development of our children. There are few things more important in infant development than time to freely explore and engage the world in an unstructured way.