Do Something Fun With Your Kids

Every morning I wake up with the same question: “Dad, will you play with me?” (I mean “wake up” to take literally here; this is usually the question that is asked loudly by a three-year-old hovering inches from my sleeping face.) And while I’m not proud to admit it, my answer to this question is secretly categorical. No even when I say yes. Because playing with young children is actually awful . But what if it isn’t? Yesterday I wrote about the benefits of mindfulness – knowing when you are feeling happy. But I can honestly say that few of my happiest moments come when I participate in creative play with my children. When I am an adult, I am distracted by dozens of everyday worries and responsibilities, it is very difficult for me to turn off my brain and get to know my children at their level, especially when this requires collecting “gifts” from Magna-Tiles and pretending that I am surprised by the 30th once in a row, toy cars are inside them.

In an essay for Slate, writer Rebecca Onion reveals the story of the expectations of adult and child play , noting that only in the last century or so did families in the developed world have the luxury of having enough time to relax; prior to that, “most American children had housework, just like their parents.” Even so, the idea that parents should actively participate in play with their children is an even more modern American invention, born in the postwar era of the baby boom, Luca says. She notes that the idea that parents should be “guardian, educator and artist all rolled into one” is not only historical, but also cultural.

Many parents find it difficult to play with their children , and this is probably because we were not made for it. Playing with the imagination has many benefits for brain growth ; through it, children develop an understanding of how to exist in a confused world. But parents have already learned these basic life skills, and to go through them again – perhaps dozens of times in a row, and woe to dad, who does not play this game correctly every time – well, in general, it is boring. Especially if we can look at our phones instead. But playing distractedly with your kids while reading Twitter is also bad news, as anyone an 8-year-old has ever lectured to about their screen time habits can attest. This becomes doubly frustrating: Children may say that you are half-ignoring them , and you start to resent that they interrupt the flow of the article you are trying to read. (You will also look like a big hypocrite if you actively text messages telling them the screens are ready to go.)

Yes, you probably need to play at least a little with your kids , especially this summer when the camps are closed ( reasonable anyway ) and you stay away from crowded parks and beaches. So here’s a clever trick I discovered when I recently bought a large (and cheap!) Batch of colorful air-dry clay : instead of trying to immerse yourself in your child’s incomprehensible games, find something that you both enjoy doing. and let’s do it together.

Let me tell you that we got many miles from $ 15 clay and the whole family was thrilled including 3, 8, and adults. We sat at the dinner table for hours, creating our own creations (or simply mixing as many colors as possible, in the case of the youngest sculptor), taking turns requesting songs from a smart speaker and chatting about non-events of the day (which usually involve an accurate reproduction of the plot of a TV show which I have never seen). This activity is fun for children and exciting (and reassuring) enough for us adults to benefit too. After an hour of painstaking attempts to recreate Super Mario characters in three slightly sticky dimensions, I feel relaxed, not distracted and agitated. And we have no problem keeping phones out of sight. Your play together doesn’t have to be clay (although I certainly can’t think of anything better). Your children may prefer to solve an “adult” puzzle with you, draw, or even do something physical, such as playing a ball. The important thing is that no matter what you do during the day with them, you can participate with enthusiasm. Leave the kids some creative solo play and buy yourself some air-dry clay.

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