One of the best parts about being an OT is that I get to play… all day long! Of course, there are times when I’m sitting at a table with putty or games and worksheets but play is usually much more fun… and much more effective. I love planning and implementing play-based therapy; not only is it fun and exciting but many areas of development can be worked on through play, regardless of your child’s age or ability
But for many (including me), play doesn’t always come naturally. And that’s ok! So, if you’re finding it hard to connect in this way, try these tips for being more playful:
1. Be Available – A playful parent always makes time for play. Leave your list of chores or, in my case reports and invoices, and let your kids know you are choosing them over everything else. Even if it is just for 8 minutes. They will feel valued, you will have fun, and it’s a good way to de-stress.
2. Devices away – Start with 10 minutes of screen free time. Tablets, phones, gadgets – all go on a shelf. That includes your own phone/laptop/tablet. And just playing a quick game of ‘It’, or ‘What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?’ gets everyone up and about. With my older kids we often do a quick game of Bananagrams.
3. Be Enthusiastic – if you’re going to play or read or build, then do it like it is the most exciting thing you have done ever! My eldest used to collect stones, and the joy in his little face when I was super enthusiastic about his collection, asking him questions, and citing my favourite one, was priceless. By being excited, you inject energy and joy into your playful interactions, and gives your kids a sense that being passionate about something is amazing. Which it of course
4. Focus – Be present – Be in that moment with them. Whether it’s building a Lego stegosaurus, or talking about the latest forex updates (my 16 year olds’ obsession), go with it.
Be there with them. I have no clue about it, but he loves explaining it to me. It’s his chosen topic and I let him direct our interaction.
5. Be Silly – playful parents forget their age and join their kids in the fun. Be creative, let your imagination run wild, dance, act, sing – just be silly.
A playful parent, is a happy parent.