A couple years ago I was enjoying a conversation with a kindergarten-teacher friend of mine. As a teacher myself, I was excited to hear about her first few days with her very first class. I don’t remember much of our conversation now, but the following statement has stayed with me to this day:
“My biggest struggle is that I have to teach them how to play pretend.”
She had all sorts of fun centers set up in her classroom: kitchen, dress up, cars, etc. and her students didn’t know what to do with them! How very sad and disturbing…
In my five short years as Mommy, I have learned a few things. One is that I can’t (and shouldn’t, and don’t want to, and won’t) fill their every waking hour with stimulating activities and bright, educational toys. Also, I can’t give them my undivided attention all the time. And… that’s OKAY. GOOD, even. Children need to learn to play on their own, to solve their own problems, to create fun when they are… (I hate this word)… bored.
One of my very favorite things as Mom is to “hide” and watch my children playing together. I’ve even been known to be busy or just plain ignore their requests for help (not all the time, of course), like when they ask for newspaper hats… it’s much more entertaining to see what they’ll come up with on their own. Dancing newspaper capes, anyone?
Okay, so maybe I could have rescued my son from the beauty shop chair, but then I wouldn’t have any good pictures to show his future bride!
Every once in a while, if I squint just right, I even catch my older children nurturing my younger children. What a bonus for play time!
My oldest starts kindergarten tomorrow. Although I worry a little about her asking too many questions or getting sassy or wanting things her way all of the time (ahem)… I do NOT worry about her not knowing how to PLAY!
Give your kids some space and give yourself a break. Let them play!