Playing together is a great way for you to connect and develop a bond with your child, plus it’s often the perfect opportunity to teach them patience, problem-solving, social skills and creativity. If they have a problem at school or need guidance, it might be easier for them to open up to you in a play environment and ask questions.
No more feeling guilty (and no excuses!): Here are 5 play activities that you should try at least once with your kids. Did we mention that they also have unexpected benefits for you? More on that later!
1. When they’re BORED, try a BOARD game.
Board games should be part of every kid’s education! Usually reserved for the Christmas holidays, they are a great alternative to watching TV in the evenings – especially if you make it a ‘family night’ and order in some pizza and snacks. If you’re a single parent or have one child, you can even invite friends and relatives around to join in the fun and make up the numbers.
The choice of game is up to you (and depends on the age of your child). You can either choose from classics like Monopoly, Battleships, and Snakes and Ladders or let them pick something more modern like a game based on their favourite TV characters. Just remember that the key to healthy competition is to make up before the end of the night.
BENEFIT FOR MOM(S): The chance to bring out your competitive side!
2. Who said craft projects are ONLY for dads?
No longer reserved for fathers and sons, practical projects and educational games are now taking off as a gender-neutral activity to teach kids STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, maths).
Mom’s can also roll up their sleeves and get involved with old school craft projects such as Airfix modelling, teaching them to paint, designing the family Christmas card or honing their practical skills with exciting woodwork projects such as making a bird box or a name sign for their bedroom door. These are all great ways for them to get creative and learn new skills.
BENEFIT FOR MOM(S): Leave the cooking to someone else!
3. Develop their imagination with CREATIVE play.
Ideal for entertaining children when the budget is tight, creative play is all about the power of the imagination. This could mean building a tree house in the garden or making a den out of nothing more than a bed sheet and a clothes rack. Whatever the scenario, let your children lead the game and try to enter into their world and play by their rules.
Creative play and role playing games are an important part of engaging their imagination, which allows them to explore their sense of self and develop their own personality. Whether it’s dressing up as cowboys and Indians or indulging in a fantasy world where your child has superhuman powers, embrace your inner child and join in the fun!
BENEFIT FOR MOM(S): Play the ‘silent’ game for some peace and quiet!
4. Get off the couch and spend the day outside.
Perfect for limiting screen time, outdoor play encourages your child to embrace exercise and have fun in the garden or at the park. Try games like tag and playing on the climbing frame, or invite the family and arrange a sports game such as football, tennis, cricket or basketball. These are all good exercises that use large muscle groups and help their physical development.
If you want to sneak in some exercise, you can also try a game of following the leader on scooters or push bikes. Whether your child has recently learnt to ride a bike or is in the process of learning, this can help them master the basics and fine-tune their balance, coordination and gross motor skills. All you need is a decent kids’ scooter or balance bike and a day of good weather.
BENEFIT FOR MOM(S): A fun way to get some exercise outside of the gym!
5. They’re never too young to start work.
Don’t worry we’re not suggesting that you take them with you to the office. Instead, try letting your child follow in your footsteps at home by helping bake cookies in the kitchen or digging in the garden using junior size tools and appliances. They will probably love acting like an adult and spending time with you, while you secretly get on with some of the jobs around the house!
It’s also an opportunity to learn about the world around them – for example, asking them to guess the type of fruit or vegetable, teaching them the names of flowers (and bugs!), or showing them how to prepare healthy food. This last idea is perfect for fussy eaters and can help them build a relationship with the foods they see on their plates. However, after the mess they make in the kitchen, this is the one activity that you might only want to try once!
BENEFIT FOR MOM(S): Get more done around the house (with a little helper)!
If you’re pushed for time or feeling overwhelmed with work, remember that playing with your child is probably one of the best stress-busters out there, and can also be a chance for you to exercise and unwind after a busy week. To burn some calories at the same time our favourite is to choose an outdoor activity such as bike rides and sports for you and your child – it’s more rewarding that spending time at the gym or taking a spin class!