While as a parent, each of us works to put food on the table, clothes on the backs, and a roof over the heads of our children. We work at instilling values and developing character. We work to inspire our children to do well in school and extra-curricular activities and support their continuing education. We clean house, do laundry, drive and carpool, cook and do dishes, etc. All important. All priorities.
However, in the midst of all the ‘have to do’s’ in your life with your children, don’t forget one of the most important things you will ever do—and that is to play with your kids. Yes, play.
Get down on the floor. Shoot the marbles, build the Legos, put the Transformers together, or whatever activity is at the top of your kids “fun” list. Shut off all of the digital “things” and go outside. Take a walk together. Go to the park. Swing. Play baseball—make up your own rules, if necessary. Throw a football to each other. Shoot some hoops. Roller blade. Go skiing. Whatever it is that you do—do it with your kids. Let them see you playing, laughing, enjoying life outside of work. And let them see how much you enjoy doing things with them.
Life is full of “have to’s”. Include some play. It will be good for you and good for your kids. Some of the best memories for you and for your kids are the uninterrupted times you spend playing.
When our son was very little, I was teaching Montessori pre-school and he was in my class. I revered the head mistress of the school. One day, (when I was a very young mom and we were very poor) someone was knocking at the door of our tiny rent house. It was this head mistress whom I adored. I was down on the floor playing blocks with our son, Brett. (he was 3). When I invited her into the house, I began apologizing for the mess on the floor. She stopped me and smiled at me with her angelic smile and said one of the most impacting things anyone ever said to me regarding motherhood.
She said, “Cathy, someday he will be gone and you will have all the time in the world to clean your house and you will wish you had him back with you right there on that floor, playing blocks. There is nothing you could do that would be more important than what you are doing right now. Stay on the floor. Play with him. You are an A+ mother. Keep on playing.”
Well, that made such an impact on me that I understood prioritization right then and there. I can’t say that I always had my priorities in order. I look back and think of times I could have played more and worked less. But, I also know that I did get down on that floor to play with both kids, read books together, play baseball in the yard, ride horses together, and etc.
Play with your kids. You, too, are an A+ mom or dad. There will be plenty of time for lower priority things—in the future. Don’t miss your treasured moments right now.