How much time do your kids get in ‘free play?’
Do we need to spend more time at home and encourage our kids to just play — to use their imaginations? Do we really need to perform all those Pintrest activities? Creating science projects, fancy art, or creative ‘fun?’
I don’t know about you, but my mother didn’t do all of that. Don’t get me wrong, we had plenty of fun as kids. We did art projects. We took trips to the zoo. My mom was the ‘Queen of Free’ – she capitalized on every free activity she could find!
In general though I spent most of my days after school outside. We dug holes to China. We made forts out of tree branches. We discovered tiny caves in the rocks in our backyard and grand adventures with our Star Wars and GI Joe action figures — (I had two brothers).
As a working mother, I was used to running to work; rushing to daycare to pick up; throwing dinner on a plate; and heading straight to books and bed time.
Now as a stay-at-home mom, I have all this free time with the kids. Is it too much? In the summer it wasn’t. We were outside having water fights, park trips, coloring with chalk, making up games or new sports. They would tear apart the sandbox, race scooters in the driveway or or build things with sticks and rocks.
Now it is winter and boy have we had a cold and snowy one!
We don’t spend time hanging out with friends after school. We all run back to our cars to get warm. We don’t just play outside because we are freezing.
So what’s a mom to do with all this free time?
I love indoor activities with my kids; but, I’m at a hard place right now. Peanut is only 20 months, so is more of a mess maker than a participator — and I’m not so great with mess! The older two love crafts, but Peanut is such a bother to them. He rips their pages, pours out their paints and steals their markers! The experience leaves everyone a bit out of sorts.
As an alternative, I have been encouraging make-believe or crazy indoor running games. I start a story line and send them off to play. In turn, they have been putting the toys away and building with blocks and then creating stories. Peanut still comes along like Godzilla, but now they use it as part of the story.
I know I probably sound like this is all roses. The truth is that it isn’t. With a 6.5 year old, a 4 year old and a 20 month old, you have to ‘work’ to keep them interested in their own game. You need to refocus them or help them change their game so they are all still interested.
I love sitting and listening to the crazy things they tell each other. They are so funny. It remind me of playing with my siblings and I hope they hold on to these memories.
What do you do to keep your kids engaged in free play?