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How To Play With Your Kids
This is not going to be one of those articles that tell you how to set up a tent in the living room or put on a family Olympics in your back yard. If you have an urge to do those things there are plenty of resources. This is for the rest of us. Do you groan at the thought of playing Monopoly Junior? Are you Marco Polo'd out? Have you ever forgotten to seek for a hidden child? Let's face it, not all of us are cut out to roll around on the carpet pushing Tonka trucks with our kids. It's time to stop feeling guilty about it.
Sure kids love an adult who acts like a child, but they love you no matter what. And it's my contention that kids also love honesty, so the more you can be yourself around your kids the better and if that means no rousing games of tag in the cul-de-sac, so be it. You don't have to act like a kid to engage with your child. Providing a safe place for kids to play, explore, and create is your first responsibility.
Think about it. Childhood looks very different in the past fifty to seventy-five years than in any other time in history. Except for the very privileged, most children a hundred years ago worked hard to contribute to the family subsistence. The fact that your child gets to go to school everyday should mightily outweigh any twinge of guilt you feel about not letting her dress you up like a clown princess.
Have Fun Your Way
Who says playing is all about kids' stuff? Do you love music? Introduce kids to your favorite artists in your own way. That may mean setting them down with some smooth jazz and a frothy cup of hot cocoa, or it may involve belting out show tunes in your pajamas. Love to tinker around the house? Make a game of it by assigning a child apprentice duties. Play guitar, paint, make up stories.
Leverage your strengths and passions, be silly, sing, dance, do what comes naturally. When you share something you love with a child you both benefit. On the other hand, if you detest board games, don't force yourself to play because in the end no one will have fun.
If You Must
If your child is begging but you absolutely cannot take another full game of Monopoly, remember that everything is subject to negotiation. Agree to play for a specified amount of time and then set a timer. If something is very important to your child you need to give a little.
Go out of your way to make play dates with children your child enjoys so that she has someone to play with. Remember too that there's nothing wrong with a child learning to play alone sometimes. We don't want to raise little people who need someone else to entertain them every minute of every day. That's what TV and Nintendo are for!
We may wish to be all things to our children, but we're only human. Remember, the best parent is a happy parent!