When I had my first child, it was a bit of an adjustment ~ being home all day. I was used to going out to work everyday, so I would get cabin fever. I’d stop by at my mom’s, or I’d go shopping. I was finding so many deals it was worth it ;). Of course, as Katrina got older it wasn’t so much fun. Toddlers and shopping do not mix. So there I would be, desperately shaking out more fishies or cheerios on her stroller tray to buy myself five more minutes before the melt down began. When number two arrived around Katrina’s second birthday, I realized the lunacy of going out for recreational shopping with two little kids.
Now I’m in the toddler stage again, and my older three are in school everyday. But I’m not reverting to past habits. I am content to stay at home and get some necessary tasks done. More importantly I’ve consciously decided to stay home so that Annika can have a chance for free and uninterrupted play.
Like most children, she is happiest in the morning and will entertain herself for an hour or more, playing with her “babies” and her kitchen. I work nearby, usually ironing and folding laundry, and she happily plays with all her toys. I’ve never been one for spending lots of time playing with my kids. I prefer to include them in my tasks when they need attention. I think it’s a really great skill for children to learn how to play on their own, without direction or constant intervention. This doesn’t mean I’m not interacting with her; she comes and shows me her baby, I comment to her how well she wrapped the baby up, and how she likes baking, etc. We also share coffee time together every morning.
I encourage her play by keeping her toys close at hand. Her kitchen is one step down from my kitchen (in our living room). Her dolls and doll carriage and doll bed are also there. I know it doesn’t look good with my decor, but this is her house too, and little kids like to play near their parents. If her toys were in the playroom in the basement, she would not play with them. The idea of separate, rigid functions assigned to rooms is silly. Life stages change, needs change and we need to be flexible in our family life. One day I might have a neat, well decorated living room, but for now I’m happy with kids who like to play nearby.
How do you encourage your children to play?