Soul-Fed Mama: 3 Ways To Be A More Playful Mama
I don’t think of myself as a particularly playful person. I don’t like to feel silly, I tend toward serious, and I often have a running list of things I need to do, which makes taking time to play seem counter-productive.But living with a small child has taught me quite a bit about the value of play. I watch Bean learning new skills, practicing social interactions, blowing off steam, exercising and connecting with others through play. She doesn’t care when I feel uncomfortable or have other things to do - she wants to play with me anyway. The more often I relax and play with her, the easier it is for me to do it next time.I’m learning, finally, that it feels good for me to play, too. So now, when she says, “Mama, let’s play a game!” I say, “OK! “what do you want to play?”Here are three ways to introduce some play into your your life:
Start the day with play
I’ve noticed that the way I engage with my daughter first thing in the morning makes a difference in her mood for hours. On the mornings when I’m jealously guarding my coffee time and holding her at arm’s length, things spiral into bad pretty fast. She whines and clings and gets oppositional. We both end up frustrated and mad.But on the days I start by getting down on the floor for a book and a wrestle, going for a walk to the woods nearby, or going out in the yard to check in with the chickens and the garden she’s more willing to entertain herself later. I might not get to finish my coffee until later, but the delay is worth it.I suspect it is the combination of getting a little exercise and getting some one-on-one attention from me that makes this work.Here are some ideas to start your own day with play:
- Put on some dance music while you make breakfast or get dressed.
- Spend 5 minutes doodling in a journal each morning. Use a pen in a happy color.
- Go for a walk around the block with a camera and challenge yourself to find at least 3 new things to photograph.
Engage the imagination
A friend of mine tells me she motivates her easily-distractable boys out of the door in the morning by turning the getting-ready routine into a game. One of them loves dinosaurs, so she tells him he’s a tyrannosaurus and his eggs are going to make him strong and fierce. She encourages roaring during breakfast. The other boy loves trains and he gets to be the conductor who tells them all when the train (the carpool) is leaving and what they need to do (“Shoes on! Jackets on! Time to go! Woo woo!”)This morning my daughter decided she was a kitty (she even drew on her own whiskers). We were having a really hard time getting out the door until I joined her in her fantasy. I gave her a nice tummy rub and a scratch behind her ears and then found some rain boots and got them on her by telling her the story of Puss in Boots. I may have changed the story to include a ride in the car and an adventure at school. She was into it.I apply this theory to overcome procrastination in my own life by imagining where I want to be in a month, a year, or five years. I get really specific. What will my life look like when I have achieved my goal, or finished this project? How will I feel? What will I tell people about it? Making a vision board with images cut from magazines is also a great way to engage your imagination.
Distract with the tickles
If I’m paying attention, I can see a bad mood coming. Both mine and hers. When I see my daughter sliding into a bad mood, I can often interrupt the slide with something unexpected. Tickles are great. Laughter releases endorphins and it is impossible not to laugh when someone is tickling you. I make sure to stop when she says stop, but she always asks for more. It is like a re-set button. We can then go on in a whole new mood.When I feel myself sliding into a bad mood I use a similar interruption technique. I stop what I’m doing, get up, move around and change my perspective. You can give yourself a dose of endorphins by taking a quick brisk walk, running up and down the stairs a couple times, or having a dance party. I guarantee you’ll be smiling after that! Where in your life can you introduce a little play today? PS: For some more playful ideas, check out The Playful Family Kindle book* by Shawn Fink. Do you know you can read Kindle books even if you don't own a Kindle? Just download the free Kindle app on your phone, tablet or computer. Easy!* This is an affiliate link. Thanks for your support!
This post is part of the 31-day Soul-Fed Mama series. Find the rest of this series here.
To get posts like this delivered directly to your mailbox (along with my free ebook and a monthly newsletter), you can sign up right here.