Tempers were short. Especially mine. The girls had been sick and cranky. It had rained for several days. We were moving to a new town. My husband had been gone for 10 days. Real estate showings interrupted nap and dinner times. There were boxes to pack. Everything seemed so serious.
A friend from our Active Parenting class called to invite the girls and me to lunch. “I don’t know if you want us, Tammy. No one in this house has a sense of humor right now.”
“Remember from class? Every day a little play. Are you remembering to have fun?”
What a friend to remind me of the important stuff. In the thousands of tasks I thought I had to do, I wasn’t doing anything fun with the girls. So, off we went to make cookies. We sang and acted silly. In a matter of 30 minutes, all the crabs left the house. Cooperation and cheerfulness were restored by just a little play. How simple it can be, and so hard to remember.
Once a situation or relationship begins a downward spin, it seems impossible to turn it around. We wait for the dreaded “crash and burn” of tempers flaring. I’ve learned that the advice in “every day a little play” can create positive relationships with children and help anger and tension melt away. Play needn’t be as complicated or as messy as baking cookies.
Five minutes of focused fun can turn a situation around.
The boys in my kindergarten class were being uncooperative about their lessons. Tasks were not being completed, or silly antics kept pulling the concentrated students off-focus. I asked one of my students why he didn’t want to work on a math lesson. Kelly looked up with big, blues eyes and said, “All we do is work, work, work. When can we have some fun?”
Oops. Out of the mouth of babes. I had forgotten (again) about a little play. “What would be fun, Kelly?”
“If you’d play soccer with us.”
Out we went for 15 minutes of soccer. It was Kelly who stopped the action and said, “I’m ready to do some math work.”
I resolved then and there to have some fun everyday with my students and to make sure I laughed with them everyday. We had treasure hunts, played catch, sang songs, popped corn, played word games and did parachute activities. When I made sure to have some silly fun and not be so serious about all the work we needed to do, I found my kindergartners becoming harder workers and more cooperative.
Take a little trip down memory lane.
What was a fun activity that you and one of your parents shared? Close your eyes, and visualize the fun experience. How did you feel about your parent at that moment? How did you feel about yourself?
Take at least five minutes a day to do something fun with each of your children. After each experience, jot down on the calendar what you did and how it went. This will help you see what is working and what is not. Using the calendar may also help you make a habit of “every day a little play.”
Remembering to play can save the day.