Here's what happened when I promised myself to play more.

Last month I wrote a post about how I’d made an important promise to play more with my children. You can read more about that here. I felt like the days, weeks, months were flying by and let’s face it, I feel like as soon as they get to teenage years they possibly won’t even want to hang out to watch a movie. So, I want to make the most of their childhood. I have let far too many distractions get in my way.

So how did it go?

Well, we haven’t picked the easiest time to do this to be honest. But when we were on holiday it was amazing, I put aside my book and didn’t have time to chill or relax much myself and I just really played with my children. A lot. We built sandcastles, went on paddle boards, buried our feet in the sand and every evening we played a board game plus on the journey instead of just switching off, we played the card game Are We There Yet? In fact, the children stopped playing before I did! I think that’s why I enjoyed the holiday so much. I felt like I spent much needed quality time with my children. You can read more about What are family holidays REALLY like here. 

But what happened during our normal day to day life routine? 

It became A LOT harder. The time of year we picked was a hectic one- but then when isn’t?! But in particular, we’ve had a lot of end of term events plus a family wedding to prep for. I found myself really stressed and barely able to keep on top of anything. But what I should have been doing is putting aside even half an hour a day just to play. And I wasn’t for a while. We got back off holiday and I had excess washing to catch up with. In the day, I had my little 4 year old at home and we did do some puzzles and games which was fun and I think he really appreciated it, but once my eldest came home he wanted to do a lot of crafts, and in peace without his brother disturbing him. I found myself giving them quiet activities to do because of this and then by the time that was done, I’d sit and do speech therapy with my youngest and homework with my eldest then it was time for dinner, clear up and bed.

Although we did dance together one evening and we did watch the first half of the England vs Croatia semi final World Cup game which my boys enjoyed as a treat. We also did story time each night. It was just so difficult around the school routine to find that extra half an hour.

At the back of my head I knew I needed to play more but I just found it so difficult finding the time. 

I ended up trying to make games out of folding socks and other chores. I felt so guilty that making pack ups, homework, housework and laundry came before playtime. I was just so stressed trying to find extra time to play. Perhaps it was because I picked a busy time to try and do this but isn’t life just always busy? Surely there is never going to be an ideal time to stop playing? Surely this is the whole point of the promise I made to myself; our children are the most important thing that we will do and have in this life.

I will always have family events to plan for, like this July I had my older brothers wedding which took up a lot of time and preparation. We also had a holiday last month which produced an insane amount of washing, which we had to do as soon as we came back.

Now, we’ve got the school holidays which should be the perfect time to play.

However, life has taught me one thing; I will never be bored again because there is so much to always do. From laundry, dinner, homework, cleaning the house, to prepping for future events whilst trying to do my blogging, everything is a juggling act as an adult. There is no perfect time to put a slot aside for playtime, but we have to make that time. 

To start with, I found this challenge so easy and I found it really enjoyable. Then I started to stress, I started to worry that I didn’t have time to play that day. I was forgetting what was really important and that is my children. They are the most important thing to me and I will continue that promise and I will continue to find ways to make games out of the mundane tasks in life just so that life can be more fun with my kids. Parenting could be more fun, chores could be more fun, everything could be more fun; if we find a way to make those things playful.

So perhaps one day I won’t have a chance to play a boardgame with them but I need to stop feeling guilty about that and instead I need to break out the socks, chucking them all over the floor and get my kids to help match them up like a game of 'Odd Socks'. I need to find new ways to play that work around us as a family so that I’m not stressing about not getting things done but that also not feeling guilty about not playing.

I think there is a lot we can learn from children.

They find the fun in everything and make it playful. At the wedding, my Sons were just playing with what was around them whilst waiting for the speeches to be done and I looked at them both and I thought about how I need to follow their lead. We need to do more things as a family and find fun and playfulness in the areas of life that you wouldn’t expect it to be. We can make dinner time fun, by getting them to help cook and to play a game with setting the table. There are so many games and play to be had out of every day things and so I need to stop stressing about actually sitting down with the toys and ball games with them because sometimes I don’t have time for that but I need to put my focus on then making what I need to do enjoyable and appealing and include the boys in them and maybe I might even find that more fun myself so I will continue to play more in all areas of my life. I might even get more time then for the board games if they are helping with chores and everyday life jobs. I can’t feel guilty about the days that I can’t achieve proper play with toys, but what I need to do is really hold on and cherish those moments where I do get the chance to play and we have fun family time because it is so important for us all.

How much time do you get to play with your children each day or week? Do you have any tips on how to get more playful with your children? Pop a comment below, I would love to hear from you all.

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