RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!! THEY ARE ON THE LOOSE!!!
They are quick and ferocious, loud and restless, always on the lookout for their next meal.
No, the lions did not just escape from the zoo…
My children did.
My son has been released from school for the next three months, and my first thought is to seek shelter in a cool, comfortable bunker until the madness passes. I can already hear the conversations I will have exactly 1.5 million times over the next 90 days-
“No, you cannot have a snack. You JUST ate lunch!”
“Stop bullying your sister. ”
“So help me God, if you pick your nose ONE MORE TIME…”
“We don’t eat dirt. OR throw it. OR store it in our pockets.”
It all makes me want to give up before I even start!
As a mom, I am not a natural “play-er.” My perfect parenthood is where I occupy myself with cleaning, cooking, and play-date scheduling, while the children happily play together and entertain each other for hours. There is no need for me to get on my knees and push little cars around or chase my kids’ tiny bodies on the playground. They never need my prodding to play nice or share. It is heaven on earth.
I have yet to experience this euphoria.
What I have instead is a pair of children who struggle to manage their own emotions and the result is constant tattle-telling and complaining. It can be too much some days!
*Their punishment when they need to learn to love each other.
Fake it ’til you make it, baby.
I do my best to create a balance of self-taught play and engaged-mom play, but I am still learning. They play independently, but we also play board games, build Lego castles, read books, put on puppet shows, swing on the play set, color and paint and glue…then a quick glance at the clock reveals it is only 9am and I want to quit my job as “Mom” immediately!
If you are like me and the struggle to get on the floor and play with your kids is very real, or you just need some fresh ideas for surviving the summer, here are my tips for transforming the way you interact with your kids during “play time” :
1.) Pray and read your Bible before anyone wakes up.
You need your heart to be in the right place before you even utter “Good Morning!” to their sweet faces! Forget sleeping in- this prayer time is so vital: I pray for S.U.M.M.E.R. :
S: Sanity in the crazy moments
U: Understanding of their emotions when they melt-down.
M: More patience.
M: More-er patience.
E: Energy to engage when I need to.
R: Realistic expectations of how they should interact as a six and three year old.
And I try and thank God every morning for these adorable babes He trusted to my care. What a truly sweet time in my life, even when it doesn’t seem so sweet!
2.) Set a timer… For yourself.
You can set the timer on your phone for 45 minutes (or however long), tell your child that they have 45 minutes of “mom” play, then do just that! You must stayed engaged until the timer goes off. The result is amazing- they typically don’t complain when you leave the room and continue to play by themselves for quite awhile.
3.) Just say “NO” to social media.
Once you set your timer, there is no need to look at your phone again. You don’t need to know the time or who is on Facebook. Nothing that happens in the next 45 minutes will be more important that the one-on-one time you are investing in your child.
3.) No cleaning or chores when you play.
I really love to “pretend” like I am playing, when (really) I am just cleaning their room. Do you do this? I am really sneaky and say things like, “We can’t play kitchen when it is so messy! Let’s clean first!” Suddenly a quick “pick-up” turns into making beds while my daughter keeps asking “Can we play NOW?” Ignore the messy floor and the sticky rug and focus completely on that little face!
4.) Play music.
When things get stale and you are petting your 45th imaginary dog, stand up and ask your child to dance with you or put on a lip-sync performance! They will have fun singing and pretending. If you just need more of God that morning, play some worship music. It can completely transform your day!
5.) Banish guilt.
Some days I make time for the playtime I want with my kids, some days I don’t. On the days you are going 20 places at once, let go of all expectations and simply love on your kids. Never feel bad for letting them watch an extra movie or taking some time for yourself. It will all balance out in the end.
Let this summer find you rejuvenated and engaged in play! And when tempers flare and your grace is tapped out, find that cool bunker to hide in and recoup. I won’t tell 😉
*What are your tips for surviving the summer? Comment below and share your secrets to success!
Erica, you are a great mother. I could never ask for a better mom for my grand babies. Keep playing and keep on writing. ❤️
Erica Willis says
Thanks, Sheila! Love you!
Stacie Webb says
great stuff Erica! I agree, worship was a must in our house. Set the spiritual tone.
In the evenings I would have the kids spend an hour of quiet time in their rooms before bedtime. They could not play together. They could however play quietly in their rooms. They could play worship music or do puzzles etc. Just quiet play. This allowed the kids to wind down and allowed them prepare for bedtime. ( no tv) One night I remember my boy coming out of his room, tears streaming down his face, telling us he felt the presence of God. Nothing sweeter than seeing them experience Jesus!
A couple things I do remember to help on days I had errands to run was to make a colorful map of where all we were going. I would then give them stickers or a crayon to X out or draw us going to the next place. This helped with the ” are we done yet” question.
We also graphed a lot of things as well. I would make a veggie tray with new things and new dips and on a poster board I would write all our names and we would try them all and graph them ( this is not technical) just who likes what. 🙂 we would not do this in the kitchen- boring- we would do this on the floor in the hallway or outside. This is how we found news things they liked to eat.
One more idea, we had “reading corner. ” They had rooms that faced each other so we would shut their doors and allow them to sleep in the hall against their doors. With a lot of pillows and a laundry basket of books we got from the library. We would check out the max number of and that’s where the books had to stay. Something about not having to sleep in their own bed just made it interesting.
Hope some of these help!
Erica Willis says
These are all GREAT, Stacie! I love your creativity! Sometimes half the battle is just being intentional about planning a game or specific activity when the “I’m BORED!’s” come out. Love the idea of trying new foods. Joey and I already decided we are going to do a competition to find the best ice cream place, as voted on by our kids, once we taste-test them all. I think they will love it!
I love your honesty Erica! I too am not a mom that naturally wants to get on the floor and play with my child. Thankfully Boston is really good at entertaining himself and now that he’s at the age to enjoy board games, it makes it more fun for me to play along with him. Since we’ve been living a tiny condo for the past year it has definitely been hard at times to keep him busy and occupied at home. There isn’t much room for him to move around and play inside and our place doesn’t have close access to any place outside to play. Trips to the park have become a reward for good behavior. It’s usually, “if you can play quietly while mommy cleans up, then we can go to the park together!” Getting out of the house is such a big help!! I can’t wait to move and have our own backyard again. I’m not a stay at home mom so I don’t have the 10+ hours a day to entertain my child every day of the week, but like Stacie mentioned, I like to make scavenger hunts or things for Boston to look for when were out and about. Oh and he shares my love for Target! My sweet little boy could go to Target every day and it is definitely tempting for me to give in 🙂 And last but not least, water balloons!! He loves just filling them up and throwing them on the pavement to make a big splat!
ERICA! This is BY far my favorite post. My favorite is “m”: more-er patience. LOL!!!!
Coming from a working mom, this post makes me realize how important it is for me to be INTENTIONAL (yes, my word) about actually PLAYING with my kids when I get home. My EVERY BEING wants to tidy my house, wipe the counters down, pick up the toys when i get home but i bet if I just drop it ALL – set that timer- and PLAY, I would hear MUCH less whiny voices and needy-ness through the night.
I love how TRUTHFUL you are. I am the same kind of mom. I dont LOVE the role playing. I love GOING places- zoo, museum, water park. But sometimes I just have to suck it up and PLAY with those girls that, like you said, I have been chosen to care for.
I love the music idea too! And Stacie- the map idea- LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!! I cant wait to use that on errand days.
Thank you for posting this- I needed to hear this all today! LOVE YA!!!