Playtime is Rewarding

We strive to continue supporting our patients beyond their fertility journey and into parenthood. One of our resources for this support is our on-staff parenting coach Tiffany Paul. This was originally published on her website, reposted here with permission. 

Maybe you think you don't like to play with your children.

Maybe you think it's boring, or you don't remember how, or you just can't get into the flow of it. Maybe you try, but are easily distracted by your phone, your dog, the lint in your bellybutton.

I get that, I really do. Sometimes playing with your children is the l a s t thing you want to do. Sometimes you are TRYING to play with your children but they keep yelling at you in a language you don't understand because you are breaking rules they never explained to you.

But! Play is so, so critical for children. It truly is the work of childhood and is how our littlest ones learn best. AND it can be an incredibly rewarding way to connect with and get to know your kids. If you aren't playing with your kids, you aren't really getting on their level. If you aren't getting on their level, you aren't connecting. If you aren't connecting, you aren't feeding their emotional needs and you are almost sure to have more spin outs, tantrums, and resistance. See what's happening here? Playing with your children is one of the best tools we parents have in our toolboxes to keep things calm, happy, and peaceful.

So here's a tip; start small. Consider just being playful. Don't force yourself to play in a way that is mind-numbing/torturous for you. Instead, look for ways to engage with your kids that are fun and cheerful. Make faces at them through the car window while they watch you pump gas, play peek-a-boo with your cart rider in the checkout line at the grocery store, race your older child to the car after school. Aim to make each child laugh at least once a day. You'll be amazed at how fun this personal challenge can be.  In a week or two, once you are seeing the benefits of being a little silly, think about stepping it up a notch.  Again, this doesn't mean you have to sit through a three hour tea party if you don't want to, instead invite them to play with you. If you enjoy cooking, ask your child to play cooking show with you. Make up a name for the show ('Dad and Daniel's Delicious Dinner Show' is fine!) and talk to your pretend studio audience while you whip up your ingredients. Exaggerate, yuck it up. Or, if you are feeling crafty, invite your child to join you in a project and just chat with them while you work together. Be silly if you can and try to keep things light...make your knitting needles talk to each other, show them how to spread glue on their skin and then peel it off after it dries. Go slowly, be relaxed, have fun together.

See what happens. How does it feel to engage with your children this way? How does it feel for your child?

xo, Tiff