Sunday, January 29, 2012

Play Time

As I sit here typing this, my daughter is across the room from me, playing with various pillows and blankets. She has been re-positioning them for the better part of the last 10 minutes. Making herself a little nest basically, on her own volition. We look at each other every couple of minutes and blink and scrunch up our noses at one another (Victoria's newest sign of happiness is what I call the rabbit nose).
This is a very normal event in our household.
I was reading my good friend Ruth's blog and her post on play and found myself nodding and smiling along as I read. She is one of the most amazing moms that I know, and we have very similar takes on parenting. Like her, I find it is extremely important to let children explore the world around them on their own, to let them enjoy the freedom of coming up with their own play, and letting their imagination go wild.

I know that I sometimes surprise other parents when I let my daughter play by herself on the floor instead of constantly giving her games, interacting with her and basically being a "helicopter parent".
Seeing that Victoria is so young (she is 10 months old), I'm sure many parents would claim that she doesn't have the use for imaginative play or the need for that kind of private play yet.
But here I am watching her make herself a nest, bring her stuffed dog over to it and starting to play peekaboo with it... all the time checking in with me, but perfectly content to do all these things on her own without my guidance, and I know that she is learning to become a secure and happy child who can play and learn on her own.
It is easy in our world of parenting classes, books, and never ending scrutiny about how we raise our children, to want to spend every single moment with them, teaching them new things, making sure they are entertained, and being the absolute best parent society expects us to be. However it is often that we end up overwhelming our children, especially our babies, with the latest flash cards, best baby toys and classes; we give them so much interaction that they don't have the chance to simply explore the world on their own terms.

Don't get me wrong, I have the same issues as any parents. I do want to take Victoria to swim lessons, music classes, and I am already thinking ahead about when she will be able to take dance classes.
But I try to reign myself in and instead give her opportunities to simply play. I will throw on one of Victoria's favorite CDs and will give her pots and pans to bang on instead of dragging her out to a structured play session where she might not have as much chance to explore the different sounds the big bowls make compared to the frying pans. I take her swimming with bigger girls and hold her and let her kick in the water, getting comfortable with mommy close by.
But while I might still consider taking classes with her at some point, I will never stop giving her moments where she can play on her own and explore the world without mommy directing her play.

Give your children those environments where they can just roam and explore everything within their reach without having you constantly interrupting them. Yes they might end up chewing on the dog's leash, but really, is that such a bad thing?
Being able to play without being told what to do is good for their soul, their ability to control their body and their emotions as well. And, let's face it, you need that alone time as well; to resource yourself so that you can truly be the best parent that you can be!

Beneath the Rowan Tree

1 comment:

  1. I am so SO SO with you! I think about this a lot and I try to encourage the boys to play outside as much as possible with very few toys. A few trucks and a couple kid shovels (along with sticks, rocks, mud, and such) can occupy them for hours and it never fails to make me smile when I see them playing creatively. yesterday they made "soup" for the chickens with seeds and grass and stuff...then collected "flowers" for me -- those 2 activities were about 1 hour of the afternoon. I was so very happy :)

    Anyway...all that to say - I think that creative play alone is so very good for them, but I have to be careful to mix it with enough one on one time with each of them. They spometimes play so well that I stay out of the action too much -- need to get down adn dirty more often!