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!