Hi! I’m Susie Robbins, from Resolve to Play. I am passionate about all things play, but mostly about making play accessible to everyone. This means that I champion the style of play that is affordable in terms of both money and time.
Play should be fun for everybody involved, in fact it is a hard rule in our house that if one of us is upset by another’s play, then we stop – it must be fun for all. Now, this probably goes without saying for the kids, but do you ever consider yourself in this equation? Do you ever spend ages setting up play opportunities for the kids for them to only play for a few moments or to ignore it completely? This can so easily breed resentment and an unwillingness to do it again. Or perhaps you’re a working parent who is always needing to rush out of the door to nursery and work and simply can’t find the time to play? Or you’re a stay-at-home parent and feel overwhelmed with all the other jobs that you need to fulfil, perhaps the dreaded parent guilt is creeping in and overall you just feel really time poor? If this is familiar to you, read on!
So, how can we avoid this? Thankfully very easily – PHEW! Here are my top five tips for building play into your everyday.
1) Use the time that you already spend together, even if it is job time. Breakfast, dressing and bath time can be great opportunities for playing. There is no escaping these jobs, so why not make them fun and give you all a happy and feel-good hormone fuelled start to the day? You can set up a dressing treasure hunt or relay race by placing your child’s clothes around the room and timing them to see how quickly they can find the items and get dressed.
2) Use what you have already, with a little imagination you can repurpose most household objects for play. Empty loo rolls can become skittles, if you want to sneak some learning in then you can write letters or numbers on them, ask your child to find the total of all the skittles they knock down!
3) Involve your children in jobs that you must do, like cooking or cleaning. Children thrive on responsibility and absolutely love to mimic the actions of their adult’s. Even if you are not up for having your toddler chop vegetable with you, bring them into the kitchen, give them a pan and a few dry pieces or pasta and a spoon. They will love being in your space and you can chat together about what you are both ‘making’, this is the perfect opportunity to share some new concepts and vocabulary.
4) Set a time limit. Good play does not need to be long play. You can provide some good quality playmate-ship in five or ten minutes provided you are wholly and fully present. Put your phone away, turn
5) Don’t underestimate the power of play, playing is connecting. If you have had a difficult day (or week or month) with your child, play with them. Take a short amount of time to really be with them, I promise that you will both come away from the experience feeling refreshed and connected.
Give these tips a go, remember that playing together does not need to be a monumental event. Slot it into the opportunities that you already have, and by doing so you will remove any extra and unnecessary pressure that you may feel about time. Use what you have, to hand, there is no need to go out any buy anything new or expensive. Children are incredibly resourceful creatures and can dream up a world of possibilities from a single plain cardboard box – allowing them to do so lets them build some really valuable skills. Finally, remember that there is no wrong way to play, throw yourself into it and watch your child’s joy unfurl.
Susie Robbins is founder of Resolve to Play, she has a mission statement that ‘playing is learning, play is enough’ and is passionate about providing play opportunities and ideas to all families. For more information, please go to www.resolvetoplay.com