Saturday 19 March 2011

What Kind of Play Parent are You?

I was looking at the kids play room the other day and thinking about the kind of play that I partake in with them.  I realised that I am quiet picky in the sort of play that I do and mostly I only want to join in with the stuff I enjoy.

Is this wrong? No I don't think so.  The important thing is to engage with your children and actually make an effort to play and do things with them.  Yes we should be encouraging them to undertake a wide variety of activities but many of those can be self-led, with siblings or peers, with other relatives or at playgroup/ school.  So as Mums or Dads we do not have to feel the weight of the world on our shoulders and feel obliged to take on all roles.

Take a look at this photo -

Can you guess what I like to do with my kids?  I think these shelves belong to me rather than them.  On them we have board games, puzzles, play doh and craft activities - all things I love to do with my kids! Don't worry, their playroom also features baby dolls, a playhouse, cars, trains, lego, make believe area, dress up and so on.

I tweeted the question  'Tell me, what kind of play do you actually enjoy with your kids?'.  I was amazed at the amount of responses I got, it was very reassuring to see how different we all are.  From these tweets I have devised a few categories of play parent (just for fun!).

First up we have the Discovery Style Play Parents. My dh is one of these, off he goes on a nature trail with the kids to see what they can find.  JJ asks a question about something historical well then it is onto the PC to look it up and discuss all the ins and outs. @Suburbanmummyuk  fits into this bracket and said 'I like being in the garden discovering leaves and worms and getting dirty!'

The next category is also a favourite of mine, Little Mummy Style Play Parents. We tend to involve the kids in whatever it is we are doing, be that cooking, cleaning, laundry or gardening.  The other day when Miss E was off with chickenpox we had been doing some cleaning and I gave her the option of sitting down and playing together or tackling the next room. She choose the cleaning, it just shows that you can not predict kids! Another couple of parents who slot in here are @kateab 'I like practical things - they love helping me cook and stuff. They are good peelers!' and  @jomag_mrsp 'baking cakes/cookies and dancing to my ipod tunes'. Hannah at @MetalMummy84 agrees that music is the way to go! 'I love dancing with my 2 year old. She will press play on her music and say "Dance" and I have to swing her round the room!'

I bet you can not guess the kind of tweeters who are going to fall into this category? The Get Crafty Play Parents are an active lot and you can find them making, getting messy, modeling playdoh, painting or other such activities. I asked @nurturestore what is your favourite kind of play? Cathy said 'Ooh hard to choose but I'd say playdough, fab for mixed ages - we love our ice cream play dough recipe'. Click on the link for nurturestore for that great recipe. Rebecca at @twobecomefour is waiting for the time when she can join this group 'at the moment I'm just loving the cuddly, tickly play (if you know what I mean!) with the twins. can't wait to get crafting with them though! X '

My girls with their playdoh, on Thursday morning!

Now this next kind of play, just baffles and bores me if I am honest.  So I tweeted and asked if anyone actually enjoyed this kind of play with their kids and I was inundated with responses.  So here we have the Imaginative Play Parents. 'I do!! :0)' said @missielizzieb. @christinemosler said 'I love the imaginary play stuff when we create a world of our own and leave this boring one behind!' and @clare_anderson commented that she is 'pretty rubbish at arty stuff and it doesn't hold his interest. Anything using imagination is good in our house! We love making up stories and pretending to be fireman or space men! I don't dress up mind!'.  Oh, spoilsport Clare, that might have made a fun post!

@scrapbookerry  added 'we do lots of building happy people farms and trains have lots of stories round them' and I think that @Wanderlust_lust idea is beautiful 'I like making up bedtime stories in which my kids play a central role. They luv it as well. They are usually adventure themed.'

I am happy to do building tasks, like making a lego house or cafe and I enjoyed making this train track for Miss E when she was off ill last week but then it is over to the kids to do the imaginative bit!

Play out of Home Parents. I did not receive a tweet from anyone who fell into this category but this was me when JJ was small and I was a first time mum.  I think the change from a pressured career where you are constantly on the go to being a Mum meant that I did not have the confidence to play at home much,. So many of JJ's play experiences where from attending toddler groups, play parks and soft plays.
and the superheros of all play parents has to be The Jump right in and do it all Play Parents. These are the people who just love to play.  I think Dad's often fall into this category.  In fact Liz Fraser wrote a good post on this just the other week. Examples of these super players are @WhimsicalWife  'I love art/crafty stuff or Lego or den building :-) I build completely OTT dens, think sheets tied to bannister's and doors and tunnels and LARGE scale ;)' and @Mum_TheMadHouse 'We love board games, dens and creative play. In fact I just love being able to be a child myself.  I am getting in to lego, but the marble run baffles me!'
So where do you fit in?  One of these groups?  A superhero of play who does a bit of everything (and enjoys it, that is the part that characterises them! lol) or something else completely?

If you have read this and are looking for some good ideas for play then head over to
Nurture Store where Cathy holds a Friday play academy each week, Red Ted Art where Maggy will take you on an amazing craft journey or I have been recommended to visit Play Activities too.

Happy Playing, Mich x
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