How Playing With Your Kids Helps You (With Girt & Grace)

Do you play with your kids?

We recently had a speaker at our MOPS group that talked about the power of playing with our children (Cara Jakab, an author of "The Power Of A Playing Parent"*).  I don't know what I was expecting from her message, maybe just a "play-with-your-kids-all-the-time-so-you'll-have-a-super-close-relationship" theme.  That is great in theory, but not really practical.  I don't believe it's even healthy to keep your kids so constantly entertained that they are not able to entertain themselves.  So I went in not really sure if I was going to get much out of it, other than a nice dose of guilt that I don't play with my kids more often (I'm being honest here).

However, that is not what I got at all.  The speech was totally relatable and much more realistic than I thought.  But what stuck with me most was this:

Sometimes we keep ourselves so busy, with events or tasks at home, because we are trying to escape motherhood.

Not motherhood in a larger sense, because I think most moms truly love being moms.  But there are days, or even seasons, where certain aspects of motherhood are very overwhelming.  And instead of leaning into it, and leaning on the Lord to give us the strength to get through, we run away.  We escape with our phones and social media accounts.  With TV shows or books.  With moms groups or bible studies or trips to the zoo.  We escape with our to-do lists.  Anything to distract us from whatever mothering struggle we are currently facing.

But the thing that helps us remember what we love about this mothering gig is the last thing we think of when we are overwhelmed - spending some time playing with our kids.

I have experienced this first hand - I have had days where I am so overwhelmed, and nothing is going right, and I finally plunk down to the floor in defeat.

And down on the floor, eye-level with three pairs of brown eyes and one blue pair, I remember why being a mom is the greatest job in the world.

They show me a toy, or maybe crawl onto my lap for a minute, and I notice how her hair curls at the ends.  Or how long his eyelashes are.  Or what a compassionate little heart he has for seeing that I needed a hug.  And I fall in love with my sweet darlings, and motherhood, all over again.

As Jakab said at our group, playing with our kids brings balance because it slows us down enough to remember what a blessing it is to be a mom.  

And maybe it also slows us down enough to let the Lord work on our hearts too, through something as simple as a game of hide-and-seek.


I have a little confession - sometimes entire days go by before I realize that I didn't really do anything with my kids.  I'm not talking about eating meals with them, or doing devotions together, because I obviously do that every day.  I'm not talking about doing something together by going somewhere, like church, the library, the zoo, or the museum - because we do those types of things weekly too.  By "doing something with them" I mean getting on their level and doing something that has no other purpose than the joy of doing it - which is the definition of play. 

So my goal for May is just to sit down and do some sort of activity with my kids every day, whether it's reading several picture books together just for the fun of it, working on a craft, playing a game, or having fun with their toys.  I want to make this a consistent daily habit, which has been hard to do for the last several years between being too busy and organizing everything around nursing schedules - and let's be honest, just trying to juggle the needs of so many young kids.  But I feel like now is the time to make play a part of my routine, because it really is too important to let it fall through the cracks.

I also realize that I am not very good at goals that require daily participation unless I have some sort of accountability, so I'm going to be posting on Twitter (maybe Instagram) what playful thing we did each day to keep myself on track.  I'm going to do my best to focus on just doing something and then sharing it, rather than doing something so I can share it, but I'm hoping that having a little accountability will help me develop get-on-the-floor-and-play into an actual habit.  I'll update you next month!

I am using the hashtag #ourdailyplay if you want to follow along or join in!  

* I haven't read Jakab's book, but it might go on my to-read list - her talk was really good.


Update on my home renovation goals last month - I actually only accomplished about half of what I wanted to, which surprised me because I thought it was a pretty productive month before I looked back at what I had planned on getting done.

We finished painting all the doors, and I cleaned out the coat closet, but I never got to our bedroom closet.  I bought a dining room table (though it's not coming in until June - agh!).  But I haven't gotten a rug yet (hopefully this week).  We move Clarice out of the living room and into the nursery, but due to a delayed delivery of some furniture, her room is not finished yet.  Most of the delays were beyond my control, and if I've learned anything t's that this is just how it is when you are doing home projects.  Everything takes longer than you think.


On to the linkup!

Welcome to With Grit & Grace  – a monthly goal link-up focused on supporting each other as we work towards our goals! Please join us on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:00 a.m. EST to share your goals and progress for the week, month, or year. We are all about building a positive community; please remember to read, comment, and share the posts of others – and let them know you found them at With Grit & Grace!
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Emily said...

I LOVE this goal! I would have gone into the talk the same way as you. I want my girls to be able to entertain themselves and know how to PLAY. So many kids lose out on the free play and I give my kids plenty of it. But I can use that as my excuse on the days that I, too, don't actually do anything with my kids.

The hashtag is great for accountability. I am looking forward to following along! And maybe I'll join in. :)

LuAnn Braley said...

New subscriber from #withgritandgrace. I had my first child when I was 35, and I remembered thinking when they wheeled his little bassinet into the hospital room and I saw him in the flesh, I thought, "OK. What do I do /now/?" That was 19 year ago, and I am still learning how to be a better mom. :O)

Keri Snyder said...

Yes- love this goal! It is something I have been trying to be more aware of because I will definitely get caught up in the list!

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