Certain aspects of parenting sound like a walk in the park before you have kids of your own. It’s not until you’ve lived through them that you find out you were completely wrong. Let’s take a look at some of the absurd ideas we had B.C. (Before Children)…
Maternity leave sounds like three months of sleeping in and hanging out B.C. Surely one little baby won’t take up all your days and nights, right? You won’t know how wrong you were until you are covered in spit up and puke and you learn what pulling an all-nighter truly means. What’s even better? You get to do it for weeks on end!
Staying home with a sick kid sounds like a bonus day off B.C. You wish you had kids of your own solely so you’d have an excuse to get out of work. But the first time you spend the day with a snotty, pukey and/or feverish little one you realize this is no vacation. Going to work would actually be much less work.
B.C., arriving somewhere on time is a given. It’s polite, and really, how hard can it be? However, when you’re on someone else’s eating, sleeping and pooping schedule, punctuality becomes a long-lost dream. You’ll get there when you get there and everyone else will just have to live with it.
No Kids in Public
Remember going to dinner and listening to the screaming kids at the next table? You thought to yourself that would never happen to your family. After all, a restaurant is no place for a baby or a toddler. Guess what – once you have a family, you realize you need to eat even when you don’t want to cook, so braving restaurants with kids in tow doesn’t sound like such a crazy idea.
Growing the Family
“Siblings are so cute! I’ve already had one baby – how hard can it be to have two?” You say to yourself B.C. Then, when Baby #2 arrives, you quickly figure out that your workload doesn’t just double – it multiplies. You forget what the words “sitting down” and “relaxing” mean. The good news? You’ll get to rest again in about ten years!
It’s hard to find anything parents agree on. Every family has its own thoughts on issues like sleep schedules, diets and discipline. But here’s something 76% of parents have come to a consensus on: they wish their kids had more time for play.
Guess what else parents agree on: They played more as a kid than their own children (82% agree), and kids spend too much time with electronic devices (88% agree!) This is all from a recent survey by the Minnesota Children’s Museum.
Parents say playtime is getting lost in the shuffle as kids join more and more activities and families get busier and busier. But it is time to get serious about playtime!
Playtime stretches the imagination. A spoon becomes a pirate’s sword, a tupperware container turns into a rockstar’s drum, and a blanket can be a queen’s cape! Starting around age two, kids can turn everyday objects into something new and exciting. Exercising the imagination is crucial to young children’s development. As Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said: “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
Playtime builds social skills. Whether an adult is guiding playtime or kids are playing on their own, they naturally learn about people’s feelings and how their actions impact others. Playing with friends also teaches kids to regulate their own emotions, which is a much-needed skill later in life.
Playtime gets kids active. I don’t need to tell you that kids are spending more and more time in front of screens and becoming less and less being active. A recent study in the Journal Pediatrics says preschoolers are not getting enough exercise; kids are active for about 48 minutes a day, when they should be up and about for at least 2 hours. Playtime is good for the body just like it’s good for the mind.
What can we do as parents to promote playtime? It starts by saying no to over scheduling our kids. They don’t need to be in every sport, club or class. Sometimes a chunk of time with nothing planned can be just as beneficial.
What are those favorite toys your kids can’t resist? Keep them handy to encourage playtime.
And, as parents, we can lead by example. Turn off the TV and turn on the imagination! You may find you need playtime too!
Parents of preschoolers dread rainy days when the kids are stuck inside with nothing to do. But why not turn April Showers into learning lessons for kids? I was on WCCO, demonstrating a few art projects and experiments that demonstrate the science of spring! Click here to see the full interview.
Learn more about the experiments and spring crafts by clicking below:
Rain in a Jar
Making a Rainbow
Types of Clouds