Actively playing with your children is a huge part of being a mom these days. Gone are the times when you could send them outside for hours on end, only to return at the dinner bell. More children are staying indoors, and that means you have “littles” that get bored easily and demand your attention.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with kids experiencing boredom- it actually builds creativity and can teach them a thing or two about self-reliance. However, it’s good for parents to play with their children and make connections. Children learn through play, so they can pick up a lot about their world when you play with them!
That being said, I don’t think I’m the only mom that struggles with “playing”. I mean, my idea of fun and my children’s idea of fun don’t always align. No matter how much I love them, it’s natural to experience EXTREME BOREDOM from time to time.
I did okay with my girls when they were small. We would play house, have a tea party, or do hair.
But my son?
I have a hard time playing “boy”, and there’s only so many times I can make conversations with trucks.
I was reminded of this fact when I walked into the kitchen to find my husband pushing trains around with my son on the floor…effortlessly.
“How do you do that?” I asked in amazement.
He gave me a puzzling look and smiled. “What?”
I realized in that moment that I had become a stick in the mud when it comes to pretend. I felt deflated as the EPIC FAIL moment sunk in.
Am I really that old!?
“You know you don’t always have to talk when you play, right?” he said as-a-matter-of-factly.
…I guess I really never thought about NOT talking. Talking is my thing. I’m a writer for crying out loud!
How to Play With Your Son (For the Play-Impaired)
As I slumped in the kitchen, feeling defeated, my hubby told me not to sweat it. These things happen, it’s not really a big deal. However, he went on to explain two very helpful tips for me to remember when I played “BOY”:
1. Dialogue is a “girl” thing (for the most part).
2. Repetition is welcome.
Girls need stories in their play. They talk about their feelings and have a backstory and set rules. There has to be a reason why the dolls do what they do, or an explanation of why you picked out a certain dress. There’s roll playing and names and props..the whole shebang! For the most part, girls need communication (and that doesn’t change).
My husband assured me I was overthinking play. He insisted that I don’t really need too much dialogue when playing with my son. “Watch the boys play next time you are around them,” he said, “I guarantee they talk little.”
And he was right! Boys don’t need rules. They don’t need a constant dialogue. While it’s good to talk, it isn’t always necessary. Body language can actually be the primary way to communicate when playing with my son.
This is a game-changer for me.
My hubby suggested pushing a train back and forth or throwing a ball; something repetitious. Or simply build houses with legos, in silence.
There doesn’t need to be an entire backstory…it can actually be quite simple.
This is a relief because I can actually connect with my son without racking my brain on what to say or how to play “trucks”. We can toss a ball and he’s totally cool with it. Since I started doing this, playtime has been much more relaxing and not as boring. It’s been a complete eye-opener to the differences between boys and girls.
While not all boys may play like this, for me, I have noticed a huge difference when I started to tap into the art of silent play. We don’t always have to grab the trucks either- I can pull out a puzzle, a coloring book, or a matching game. All of these things are activities that we can do together, but I don’t have to overthink them at all. I can just enjoy being with my son…and isn’t that the point?
So mamas, try it. Try just “being” with your son and doing something repetitious.
You may find that playtime gets a hell-of-a-lot easier!
How do you play with your son? Share in the comments below!