Have you played today? Even if you sat on the floor and “played’ with your child, was it play for you? Or were you thinking about the incomplete task list and chores that needed to be attended to?
Play is so important. For a developing person, for an adult person, play is so important.
Play is how we communicate and engage with our children in early childhood. Play is how they will learn about themselves and their internal lives as well as their social world, cause and effect, language, you name it. The simple act of rolling a ball with your child engages eye contact, communication, a reciprocation of giving and receiving, as well as gross motor function and eye hand coordination. SO MUCH STUFF!!
Play is so important.
How you play with your child matters as much as that you are playing with your child. Developmentally, play changes as your baby grows. It becomes more separate, and more active as your baby does. But, even though they may seem to be fine playing without you (and sometimes individual play is valuable) they still want you and still need you close.
Sometimes, the mere act of you watching, without comment, their play is what your young child needs and wants. This can be especially hard to do, because it can be difficult to simply sit and observe your little one at play without commenting, joining in, or becoming distracted by other things that need to be done. But the act of observing teaches you so much about who your child is becoming, and it allows your child to feel your focused connection while being fully in control of their play space.
Being a parent is difficult and it is incredibly energy depleting much of the time, so there are absolutely times that you need to take a break. Do it. If you allow yourselves those breaks, you’ll likely find that you’re more able to be present and engaged for all of the play that your developing and growing child needs.
Even better, you might find it’s exactly what you need, too.
An Inexhaustive List of Various Kinds of Play:
Knocking down things you’ve built
Creating stories together
Searching for: ladybugs/spiders/butterflies
Collecting leaves, flowers, twigs
Tracing hands or other body parts
Seeking out construction sites/ fire stations/ etc.
Finding (red) cars
Building a fort
Camping out in the living room or the backyard
Pulling out kitchen tools and making “music”
Play is so important, but also, it is therapeutic. Do it for the soul of your child, and also for the soul of you.