There came a point in time where I discovered something about myself and my parenting. I’m not a player. I don’t often enjoy getting down on the floor to play with my kids. But it didn’t start out this way, it took a lot of evolution to get to this point.
When my babies were little, I played with them a lot! In fact, I think a large reason why around 9 months is my very favorite stage, is because I could sit on the floor and play with them for hours and hours. When I have full control over the playing situation, I’m great at playing! My favorite activities at this age are learning activities, such as going through animal noises while playing with our animal toys, or nailing down colors by categorizing all of the toys in the living room into color-coordinated piles or rows. Activities like this are very fun for me!
The problem with playing with older kids, like my four-year-old, is that apparently I don’t play correctly. My son’s favorite game to play with his action figures is “fight”, so naturally there are good guys and bad guys and a fight going on, but I get scolded often because I’m playing wrong. He’s in full-on imaginative play and knows exactly how he wants things to play out, so when I play with him, I’m actually interfering a bit. So at some point, I just kind of stopped playing with him.
Don’t worry, there are still times where I’ll sit down and build train tracks or play board games with him, but our overall playing time has definitely gone down over the years. I’ve also come to figure out ways to join in on imaginative play that are suitable for us both. For example, when he wants to play “fight”, I help him sort and set up the good guys and the bad guys and line them all up so they’re ready to fight, then I let him do the actual fighting on his own. This works out great for both of us!
Another way I have made an effort to play with my kids is to buy them toys that I would actually like to play with myself! Win-win, right? Below is a list of some of my favorite toys or types of toys that I prefer to buy for my children so that when they want me to play with them, I’m much more inclined to do so.
Anything stuffed animal related: I can totally understand why some parents may have a dislike for buying stuffed animals. But as for me, well, I really truly don’t have this problem. In fact, I initiated the purchase of 90% of the stuffed animals in my house! They are just way too adorable to pass up, especially anything Slumberkins!
Something that has a clear purpose: Like I said, apparently I don’t have a good enough imagination to correctly play with toys with vaguely-defined purposes. So toys like the SpinAgain or a pretend camera or phone are more my jam. There is a clear way to play with them and I don’t have to worry about getting in trouble for doing or saying the wrong thing! These baby toys are great for keeping around and using for later years too!
Useful toys: I’m not sure if there is anything cuter than my two-year-old pulling out her miniature broom while I’m sweeping the kitchen. It’s teaching her large motor skills and gives her an insight into the whole “chore” world. Full disclosure: as you can probably tell, I tend to be the more organized, things-have-to-be-done-perfectly type, so my two-year-old has three designated spots she’s allowed to sweep, and is far away from my pile! Another fun fact: my husband totally highjacked the dust pan set and it is currently in his shaving drawer to use after trimming his beard. So gross...but dang useful!
Group activities: A while back, my in-laws bought my kids a big humongous music set. We’re talking SO many instruments. I have pretty strict rules about these musical toys because a lot of the time they drive me nuts, but there have been some really fun times when everyone in the family grabs an instrument and we all jam out for a time!
So I may not be the most fun mom on the entire planet, but I love my kids more than I love anything and I occasionally buy them awesome toys. So, I’ll call it a win for now. Do you enjoy playing with your kids? What are you favorite toys/activities to play with them? Is there anyone else out there like me?