When is the last time you became a kid for the day? One of the things that Jo Frost taught us, during her time with our family, was to take the opportunity to make play a priority. I know that I’ve said this before, but I cannot emphasize enough, the joy that kids get out of seeing their parents take off their parent suits and be a kid for the day. No matter the age, your child will always remember the day that mom or dad became one of them.
If you have little ones, the most important thing to remember is to get down to their level. Walk on your knees, get down on the floor, or whatever it takes to get to their eye level. It is an amazing transformation that takes place when your toddler has full access to you, instead of just your knee caps. Sometimes, just laying on the floor and pretending to be asleep, then surprising them when they get close to you, can keep them entertained for quite awhile. It is only a matter of creating simple activities that allow them to have your full attention for the day.
Elementary aged kids are still young enough to enjoy imaginary play. One of our favorite things to do is camp out in the living room. We make a tent out of sheets, grab sleeping bags and tell stories around an imaginary camp fire. We pass the story stick and weave some pretty incredible tales, while munching on popcorn. When it is bed time, we all sleep under the tent…even mom and dad! If you don’t have a whole evening to spare, try playing dress up for awhile. Have a silly fashion show or pretend to be superheroes. Just getting to hang out with you will be a special treat in itself. Take the time to do it before they become teenagers who think you are an uncool know-nothing.
Older kids can be so preoccupied by their own lives, that they don’t realize what a great play mate that old mom or dad can be. Challenge your tween to a video game showdown or round of candy poker. It is harder to get the older kids to suggest bonding activities, so it may take some creativity. If you take a moment to think about what they enjoy doing, you might be able to incorporate it into a parent/child activity. They may call you a dork if you challenge them to a rap off, but they will always have that memory to look back on… and they may even smile when they think about it!
It is possible, at any stage of childhood, to make a play date with your child. Feel free to share your own play ideas below and then head over to About.com to find some other great blogs about the importance of play. Remember, take an interest in your child, while they still have an interest in you. Before you know it, they will be off to start their own lives and the days of play will be long gone.