You don't have to commit to hours of playing stuff you can't stand to be a playful parent.
- Parker Barry
Maybe you think of yourself as more serious than playful. Perhaps your schedule is jam-packed with housekeeping, work, caring for other kids or getting family members from one place to another, leaving little time for play. Or maybe you just don’t want to play (or play AGAIN!) You can be a playful parent without spending hours a day immersed in co-play with your kids. If you want to become a more playful parent, these tips will make it a little easier.
- 1. Find your thing. I have zero interest in playing video games with my kids, but I love to bake with them or do science experiments in the kitchen. Their dad handles the gaming, but you won’t find him pulling out the craft supplies. Find a way you enjoy playing — sports, video games, crafting, dressing up, whatever — and connect with your kids that way.
- 2. Schedule it. If your schedule is booked solid, build play into it. When your kids ask if you can play, you can give them something to look forward to by reminding them when you’ll be able to play rather than just saying “not now.” It could be kicking the soccer ball around after dinner, playing a board game as a family while eating pizza on a Friday night or making and playing with homemade play dough after nap time. Schedule it. Look forward to it. Do it.
- 3. Be spontaneous. But don’t take that schedule too seriously! Being playful doesn’t necessarily mean playing together. Kids need to play independently, too. Take a 15-minute break to play if you can. Or just be playful around your kids: tell a joke, sing and dance, use funny voices.
- 4. Just laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine — especially when it comes to sweetening sour moods. Try incorporating a playful spirit into the parts of your routine that may be meltdown prone. Use mini-races to keep the morning routine on track — “Let’s see if you can get your shoes on before I finish filling up your water bottle!” — or make up songs to go along with your bedtime routine. (Your songs don’t have to rhyme or even make much sense. Just have fun!)
- 5. Fake it till you make it. Playfulness is like a smile — it’s contagious. Even if you don’t feel naturally playful, give it a try. You might find yourself enjoying it or finding your own playful style.