Over the past two and half years I’ve found lots of different ways to entertain my children. When they were babies simple things such as talking and singing to them worked, as well as pulling silly faces and making funny noises.
Like most parents we also invested in a cot mobile – which we never used – along with a variety of toys that made sounds or had flashing lights on!
Now that our children are almost three, I’ve been looking at the ways in which I keep my children entertained and I’ve been questioning it. That’s not a bad thing, by the way, more of a look at what I can do help them to develop and learn things differently.
I’ve been guilty of constantly finding ways to entertain them. When I’m in the shower I might set up a crafty table for them with pom poms, glue sticks, coloured paper and other things on for them play with. Some days I might get the lego out for them, some wooden puzzles or maybe even some crayons, their toy castle or their wooden train set.
If we’re not going to play group or music group, I’ll always plan in advance what we’ll be doing. If the weather is dry that usually means we’ll go to the park or play in the garden, but if it’s raining I’ll usually have an activity or two in mind.
It’s got me thinking lately though maybe I should be leaving them to play independently on their own more often. They do entertain themselves occasionally if I’m cooking or something. They’ll talk to each other and pretend to make each other cups of tea – in between fighting like all siblings of course!
When I go to play group or music group the girls always stick close to me. They never wander off. They’ll point to a toy they want and I’ll encourage them to go and get it rather than me getting it for them, but they’ll always stay by me. I like this because it means I always know where they are! The amount of times I’ve seen frantic mums searching for their children has been plenty and I’m always grateful I’ve never been in that situation!
I know they’re still young. They’re not even three yet and I’m so proud of how far they’ve come. When I first took them to play group they would just sit on my lap! They now wander off to get toys and then return to play with them next to me. They dance along to the songs at music group and have played with other children on occasion too.
I remember reading an article not so long ago about how centuries ago, women would just sit in the street chatting to their neighbours whilst the children all played together and made their own entertainment. I think days like have long gone. Or is it just me?
I always find the summer the easiest time of year as it means we can just play in the garden and park. We can get the paddling pool out and splash around in the sun for hours!
There seems to me to be so many ‘organised’ activities around for children nowadays. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, because on occasion they’ve been life savers in keeping me sane when my children become bored, but am I guilty of entertaining them too much? Is that even possible? I know all parents enjoy playing with their children, but should we be ‘leaving them to it’ more often?
The amount of times I hear ‘Mummy, play with me’ or ‘Mummy, kick a ball with me’ in a day – well I lose count! It’s good that my children want me to be involved and I’ll never say no to them, but should I leave them to their own devices more often?
The thing is when I do they tend to just sit and watch TV! Unless of course I get an activity out for them, then they’ll play with it until they get bored and then sit and watch TV!
I think I’m guilty of always thinking that they should be doing something. Playing with something, learning about something, not just sitting down and doing nothing. I don’t know why!
The past few days I’ve changed the way I play with them. Rather than setting them an activity I’ve sat and left them to it. We spent one day drawing and cutting out pieces of paper with scissors for hours! This was followed by them playing games on their iPads. I’m not against this as there are some great learning apps available (post about this coming soon). R knows all the shapes, pentagons, hexagons etc and M loves doing puzzles and shape sorting games on her iPad. I won’t let them play on them too long, but on the days where I’ve left them to find their own entertainment we’ve definitely had more fun! There’s less stress and tantrums. Less instances of being bored and more fun whilst I watch them use their imaginations! R drew a baby the other day. I’d never seen her draw that well before!
What do you think? Do you entertain your little one a lot or leave them to it?