Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"I gave you each other!"

This is what I say to my girls when the cries of "I'm bored!" or "I don't know what to play with!" get too annoying. "You have a sister to play with! I gave you each other!"

And actually, they're really good at playing with each other. I love hearing them have pretend tea parties and birthday parties, and run their little mom-and-pop general store outside, peddling in sticks and stones and dandelions. But sometimes it takes me refusing to pull out a board game or coloring book (or turn on a screen--grumble) to make them play by themselves. I think kids (mine especially, but I'm sure I'm not alone!) are getting too accustomed to having their days orchestrated by Mom and Dad, with activities and play dates, and the wide open spaces of children's play are getting limited.

I wrote about that for Vanderbilt's Wishing Well blog this month, starting with a typical scene in the Kelley house:

I was putting away the groceries one evening, overhearing the shrieks of my 3- and 6-year-old kids through the screen door as they played in the backyard. The baby was pulling snacks out of the bags on the floor, while I hurried to get frozen foods into the freezer after a way-too-slow, traffic-clogged drive home. My husband was, surprisingly, still not home, and despite all the food I’d just bought, I wasn’t quite sure what I would fix for dinner.

That’s when I heard the cries of my younger daughter from outside, rejecting her big sister’s efforts to push her on the swing, demanding that Mommy come push instead.

This is the sort of scenario when I, like most busy parents, usually feel a pang of guilt. Dinner can wait, right? A good mom would eagerly rush to her child’s side and push that swing, right? I should have been out there anyway, to make sure no one gets hurt or kidnapped, right?

I’m learning, however, to quiet that voice and remind myself that it’s okay for my kids to play by themselves sometimes. More than okay, actually. Essential.

Read the rest on Wishing Well...

1 comment:

Rachel Moss said...

I hear you! Just this evening I had the guilt/fear combo when my kids were playing in the backyard. They wanted me to play with them, but I was trying to get dinner ready. I played for about 60 seconds before heading back inside, but I questioned whether I had done the right thing.
Oh, and the main reason they were outside was because I declared earlier that we were not going to "watch something" tonight. It's so convenient to let them watch a few shows on Netflix while I make dinner, load the dishwasher with the day's lunch containers, and get lunches packed for the next day. I've really been trying to have a few "screen free" nights each week, though!


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