Our lives are just getting busier and busier. In fact, it’s becoming harder for us to find time for play in our day to day. Many parents work part-time or full-time, some are studying and some are single parents without a support network around them. Today I’d like to share 8 simple tips for making more time in your day for play!
We all know that play is really beneficial for our little learners. It’s at the very heart of their learning and development. It’s how they make sense of and learn about the world around them! Play is very much focused on the process rather than the outcome and it’s up to us as the parents to make sure they have plenty of time during their day to slow down and just play.
Making time for play is absolutely crucial for raising happy, confident, knowledgeable little learners.
So what can we do to support our little learners and provide them with a childhood full of playtime? A childhood full of slow, simple days that allow our little learners the opportunity to just be?
Just slow down!
Family schedules are JAM PACKED with extra-curricula activities. Many families spend weekends going from activity to activity especially when they have more than one child. There’s swimming lessons, gymnastics, art classes, music groups, sport – so many different activities added to our calendars and making it harder and harder to just slow down.
In our home, our children don’t do any extra-curricula activities. It’s quite nice knowing we don’t need to be anywhere at any particular time outside of the school day. This means we aren’t rushing around and can wind down and enjoy slow, quiet afternoons especially after a big day at Kindy or School.
By being able to slow down (and sometimes being able to say no to others) we are prioritising our own family time. When we’re at home, our children are often engaging in their own child-led play which is when the magic truly happens.
Schedule it in
Sometimes it’s easy to prioritise everything else. The housework, errands, visiting family or birthdays and events. So when we’re feeling like we’re getting a little too busy or that we have too much going on, we just schedule playtime into our calendar.
It sounds a bit silly doesn’t it? But having time set aside on our calendar means we are honoring that playtime. We will often schedule adventure days onto our calendar too. These are days when we go and visit our favourite beach, a new play ground or go on bush walks together.
Nature is our greatest playground! When we need to slow down and make time for play, we often head outside. We might take a few inside toys outside to make them exciting again, or we simply just open the door and let them go and find their own fun.
Do the chores together
Quite often, I catch myself saying “Just let me finish this” when our children want me to play with them or want me to help them get something that they need for play. By having your little learner help with the day to day chores (and all those wonderful practical life skills) we’re able to get through those jobs much faster but also have fun and bond while we do it! Once all of those jobs are done, we have more time for play!
Leave your phone out of sight
This is a big one and one that I struggle with a lot, especially as a business owner. I feel like I’m constantly distracted by my phone so I turned all notifications off and often leave my phone in another room. Sometimes I even leave it at home when we go on adventures or down to the park so that our little learners have my full attention.
Embrace toy rotation
Sometimes when we have too many toys out, our little learners find it all too overwhelming. They end up feeling bored or like they don’t know what to do or what to play with. This also makes pack up time much harder because it becomes a really big, overwhelming task.
In our home, we do toy rotation. We have a limited amount of toys out and everything else is packed away. This means our little learners become totally engrossed in their play because there is less choice, less options and less time spent trawling through tubs or tidying up a big mess before they can even start to play.
Be less entertaining
I am SO guilty of this one. I love setting up invitations to play or preparing planned activities for our little learners. But they’re so capable of creating their own play! It can be really hard to find the right balance for your family. We have gone from preparing planned activities every single day to only prepping something special once a week maybe.
This means our little learners are becoming more creative in their play because they’re directing it totally on their own. They’re following their own interests and needs in a way that makes sense to them. I simply sit back, observe and engage when the opportunity arises.
Just say yes!
This is my favourite! The dinner can wait. The washing can wait. Replying to that email can wait. Having a ‘yes’ day is really quite special and something I love to do every now and then.
Want to paint your body with paint? Okay, let’s do it! Want to visit the zoo? Yep! Let’s pack some snacks and go! Want to watch cartoons for 2 hours? Yep! If that’s what you feel like you need today, we can do that too.
Childhood is really fleeting. It’s over in the blink of an eye. So my one goal as a parent is to make the most of that and make loads of time for child-led play in our days!