We were at the park. There was a playground, a large field, basketball courts, and a skate park.
The girls should have been running around, playing, and laughing right?
My girls were sitting in the shade of a tree, feet from me, pretending to watch TV.
Pretending. To watch. TV.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Not only were they refusing to leave me alone (children, this is why we are here. For you to go play and for mama to have an adult conversation) but they were refusing to play! PLAY! The most basic childhood skill there is.
I had to sternly tell my children, more than once: “Go run around the field!” “Play on the swings, it’s fun!” “Run down the skate ramp, it’s fun!” “Do an obstacle course!” “GO AWAY AND PLAY!”
Why am I having to convince my children that running around with minimal adult intervention or supervision is fun? Why are they fighting me on this?
This is the hard realization, friends:
It’s my fault.
It really is. My girls are 8, 6, and 3. Admittedly they have way too much screen time (it’s summer and it’s hot!). They can’t walk to the park by themselves, we live in one of those areas (and let’s be honest here, folks: one of those times) where people will call the authorities on them if they are out without a tall person. It’s a different time from when I was their age and was able to be gone all day with just my bike and my best friend. (Yes, I know how old I sound, thanks.) That means if we can’t all go together because of mom’s work schedule, there are days we just don’t make it to the neighborhood park.
I have been a stay at home, work from home mom since Eleanor was born. They are used to me being there, doing everything for them, giving them instructions on what to do and how to do it to ensure they are entertained. I was so focused on being sure they could do laundry and dishes and sweep the floors and keep their rooms clean that I forgot to teach them how to have fun.
I trusted my kids to be able to teach themselves how to have fun. I forgot that part of my job as MOM, in addition to teaching them how to clean up after themselves, use their manners, and make good choices, I also have to teach them how to have fun.
It seems ridiculous, and it kind of is. I remember being a kid and my mom not being able to get me back in the house! But if you think about it, it makes sense. And it’s probably a good thing for all of us – I need to remember how to play, too. We can’t expect our children to do anything that we don’t model for them first, right?
Summer may be over, but the beauty of autumn and the holidays has begun. What will you do to teach the art of play to yourself and your children today?