Thursday, October 4, 2012

Prescription for Play

The cold that has been hovering over me, kept barely at bay with Vitamin C, has finally settled in. It has coincided with the first truly chilly, blustery day here in MN and I would like nothing more than to head to my bed right now. I have a feeling the children wouldn't be overly impressed with a 4:30 pm bedtime though, so I'll just drink some tea and feel sorry for myself.

I heard a woman speak yesterday at my MOMS Club meeting that describes herself as a Parent Coach. I'm not sure quite what to make of her. She has good credentials on paper and had some really great information to share, but it was all a little scatterbrained and she threw in a lot of pseudoscience. Big turn off for me. She talked a lot about the value of play in young children's development and issued a challenge to give your child 15 minutes of uninterrupted playtime a day for two weeks and report back to her with any noticeable changes.

I decided to take her up on the challenge. Although I am physically with my kids a lot of the day, I know that a good percentage of the time I am distracted by other tasks, thoughts, devices, etc. I actually think that Brighton will really benefit from this 15 minutes of my full attention she will know she can count on. It will certainly allow me to feel less guilty about then telling her she has to entertain herself for a bit so I can cross some things off my to-do list.

Anyway, I started yesterday while Pacey was in speech therapy. I sat outside on the sidewalk with her and we played My Little Ponies. The Parent Coach emphasized that it's really important to get involved in what your child finds most ponies it was. It is kind of entertaining to watch her imagination at work but I confess it got a little old after awhile. She wanted the ponies to run races, but (to no one's surprise) her ponies always had to win.

Today Pacey had school in the afternoon instead of the morning, so I had plenty of time to "do my time." Brighton wanted to play ponies again, this time including a set of ponies that Chris bought for her that came with a set of styling tools (comb, mirror, hair dryer). This toy has been a HUGE hit and she spent a good 30 minutes playing hairdresser. It's so tempting to just sit there and zone out while she carries out her little play scenarios but I really made an effort to be present and join the game.

Hard at work

This is what I wished I was doing

Freshly coiffed Twilight Sparkle
It's too soon to tell whether it's making a difference, but it definitely shows me how attached to my iPhone I am. After five minutes or so I was itching to pick it up to...I don't even know. Check Facebook? Check emails? I think it makes me feel more connected to the outside world when I'm spending so much of my time with the kids, but I could really do with cutting back. This two week challenge will be good for me for sure (but oh how I hope tomorrow is something other than ponies).


Kerri said...

Yeah, I am not much in the playing department. The entire time I am thinking of other things I could/ should/would rather be doing. Like napping!

Just wait until she gets into Barbie :)

I am still trying to figure out how one becomes a parent coach, tho

Elsha said...

I'm interested to hear how this goes. I'm good about reading with my kids, or talking to them, but I don't really do any imaginative play with them.