One of the most wonderful parts about being a mother is seeing the world through my children’s beautiful perspectives. Their vivid imaginations and creative minds constantly inspire me to approach life with more curiosity and openness and to do every thing I can to encourage them to stay mentally, physically, and emotionally connected with the world around them. While there are definitely some very interesting and enriching shows on TV and games on the iPad or iPhone, it can become far too easy to rely on these passive forms of entertainment when you are a busy parent. As part of my commitment to being an active part of my children’s growth and development, I keep an ongoing list of playful activities that are creative, educational, physically-engaging, and don’t involve staring at a screen. Here’s just a few.
Look for bugs, have a picnic, play in the dirt, sand, or water! There are so many opportunities to play outside and an open, outdoor space like a backyard or park is a particularly good place to let our children channel their energy into healthy physical activity. Running, swimming, doing yoga, riding trikes or bikes, and going for a walk provide an opportunity to get fresh air and sunlight while building important physical skills.
Work as a Team
Especially when they are toddlers and in early school years, children love to be helpers and including them on some of my daily tasks allows all of us to experience the joy of collaboration. If I notice that they seem intrigued when I am preparing food, washing the dishes, or any other activity that may seem commonplace to me, I find a way to include them on the task. It may mean that the task takes a little longer some times, but it is a wonderful opportunity to teach my kids skills that will help them nurture and care for themselves as they get older and become more independent.
There are tons of creative ways to make the inside of your home a fun and interactive play space for your kids. Build a fort with blankets and pillows, read books together, make “costumes” out of normal pieces of clothes worn in unusual ways, play a board game, put a puzzle together, throw a birthday party for one of your children’s toys, dance to music, play hide-and-seek, or create an indoor scavenger hunt. It’s often the least expensive, simplest toys that allow kids to be the most imaginative. Empty boxes, beads, yarn, pots, and pans can provide hours of entertainment when they are used as items in make-believe play. Even normal activities like taking a bath or making a snack can be fun when you approach them with a sense of playfulness.
For days when the weather doesn’t permit outdoor play or when you and your kiddies are feeling like doing something that is more calm and introspective, creative projects are an excellent way to encourage your children’s imaginations and artistic expression. I love seeing what my kids can create when I give them some simple craft supplies like markers, crayons, construction paper, child-safe scissors, finger paints, glitter, magazines, and glue sticks. They can spend hours drawing, painting, coloring, and making collages and it is always so interesting to hear them describe what their creations mean to them.
Go on an Adventure
For a child, any excursion can be an adventure. Because the world is still so new to them, going to the zoo, to the library, or even into your own backyard can be full of excitement and learning if you frame it that way. The best way to get your kids to be excited about an activity is to be excited yourself. Tell them everything you know about how the library works, the animals you observe, or the things you notice in your backyard. Ask your children what they notice and encourage them to engage by having discussions about what their experiences make them think and feel. Nothing is more beneficial to your child’s emotional and intellectual growth than letting them know that you are interested in their experience.
I’d love to hear the unique ways you and your children stay entertained and engaged. Share in the comments below and be sure to follow The Philosophie on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for more great tips on creating a happy, healthy life for you and your whole family!