I had a few people reach out to me about my last post about playing with my kids at the beach. See the original post here
A few of you shared sentiments that you would love to have more time to play with your kids in your everyday life, but there is never enough time. I agree. I don’t have enough time. I never get all my chores done around the house. I most certainly don’t have time to finish everything I want to do. I don’t even have the energy to clean up the messes they made that day, let alone add one more thing into my schedule. But for me, my look changed one day. Tempest asked me to sit with her and said “just sit, don’t get up” It was then I realized between work, school, and housework I hadn’t sat and played with her in over a week. I knew this wasn’t the parent I wanted to be. I didn’t want to sit by while my children kept themselves occupied and out of my way. I wanted to be in their with them.
So, I decided to make a very big effort to live the life that was important to me. I didn’t want to be so preoccupied with if the dishes were done that I missed playing with my children. Here is my top 3 things that I have been working on to incorporate play into my everyday life more.
1. Make chores into games
My daughters love helping. They aren’t very good at it, but that is ok. Let them help with what they want. But also demand they help. If my research tells me anything, it is that kids as young as one can help around the house and believe me, I’ve done a lot of research. I’m a bit of a research junkie (and I use “a bit” here as in the Dead Sea is “a bit” salty). So, get them involved. This not only means you are spending time with them, but it also means less to be done around the house.
But this isn’t just about getting them to help, it is about making chores into games. My children love to play basketball with their blocks as they pick them up. Or see who can pick up the cars the fastest. Anything that makes household work feel like fun and not chores.
The girls favorite of this is called “AH! It’s a monster!” This happens every time I vacuum. They run in and out of the room I am vacuuming screaming “AH! It’s going to get me!” and then proceed to either run out of the room or jump on the bed for protection from the vacuum monster. Sure it takes me an extra minute to chase them down with the vacuum, but it’s worth it for my kids to have fun. Plus, my floor probably needs that extra second of vacuum time
This is one of these things that I always know, but I never really “know,” Things work better when I schedule them. The more things I have to do, the more need I have for a schedule. But parenting always seems to be the one area that goes out the window first. When I get busy I don’t take time to stop and think about what needs to be done, I just keep going. This is how I end up doing little meaningless tasks and nothing I actually want to get done.
Instead, I have stopped and written out an entire schedule. Anyone with small children knows my schedule will never work. It will constantly be off and interrupted. But the point of it isn’t to follow it to the letter, its to prioritize what needs to be done, and what is the most valued thing for me to do.
Our scheduling now includes time to play with the kids. Ten minutes each day I spend with each child in our mother/daughter alone time. Scheduling it means it is on the top of my list and not something that can wait until tomorrow. It’s only ten minutes, I can find it. My kids get attention, I get to see how smart and loving they are.
3. Stop Competing
This is the area I am still really working on. As I mentioned in my last post, I want to be seen as the cool mom. The mom who has it all together. The mom who can do everything. For me, this included having a house that is spotless, being put together and physically fit, having kids that are beautifully dressed, and always well-behaved. I am not all those things, at least not always. I have good days where I think “I finally have this figured out” but most days my house is a disaster, my children are running around naked, and I haven’t showered in a week. I had to let go of the idea that my house had to be Better Homes and Garden cover quality. I don’t have to have the fancy wonderful, everything looks pristine life. I have to do what works for me. And guess what? Other’s don’t have that life either. If you know someone whose house always looks like a magazine cover, they have a secret they aren’t telling you. Or at the very least they don’t live with two toddlers. When I stop competing, I realize I don’t have to have everything perfect to be happy. I let my floor have crumbs and I frequently have laundry piled up in front of my washer. My children have dirt on their faces and clothes (if they are wearing any). I am still working on getting over the embarrassment and shame of not having the legos color coded into their own individual baskets.
When we let go of these ideas that we have to be perfect, we have more time in our life. And we aren’t afraid to say “The dishes can wait for tomorrow.”
So here it is; the three best tips I can give you about making your life about playing. I haven’t perfected these. I will keep trying. This is my promise to myself and my children.
Do you have something that helps you remember to play more? Please add it in the comments. I would love to hear it.