Your kids need you to play with them

Your kids ask you to play with them all the time. Or maybe they don’t but you have friends who play with their kids all day and you feel like you should too. The real question is, how often do your kids need you to play with them? Is there a set amount of time you should sit on the floor and play with your kids? Are there times when your kids need or don’t need play time with you? Shouldn’t your kids be able to entertain themselves? Try these ideas for squeezing in more quality playtime with your kids.

Understanding your child's signals

Do you ever hear “Watch me mom!” or “Look dad!” It can grow tiresome when you hear these types of phrases all day. But, they can also be a signal your child is looking for your attention. Other signals include acting out or tantrums. Kids aren’t always great at saying exactly what they want. They likely won’t tell you they want you to spend one-on-one time with them. They’ll scream, yell, throw things, and tease to get your attention. If you’re paying attention to the signals, you’ll start to notice when your child needs your time.

Consistency counts

You’re busy. With work and the necessities of life, you’re barely finding time to get dinner on the table. Maybe there’s no time for long play sessions with your kids. Thankfully, you don’t need to spend hours every day to help your child feel loved. Consistency is much more important. Tell yourself you’re going to spend ten minutes every day playing with your child on the floor. Or 30 minutes once a week. Whatever you can spare for pure playtime. That consistency counts. Your child will begin to look forward to their time with you.

Let them lead

As tempting as it is to take charge of playtime, it’s essential you let your child lead. Your child’s playtime with you doesn’t need to be educational. Just play. Let them pull you into their pretend world.  Play along. Ask questions about what they want you to do.

Make it silly

Sure, some kids might want to sit and quietly play puzzles with you. But, you’ll get your most “bang for the buck” when you choose high-energy games that make you both giggle and laugh. For younger kids, try hide and seek, peek a boo, or even tag. Tickle, chase, and play. Watch for signs that one or both of you are done, but use energetic play to connect with your kids in ways you might not otherwise.

Give it your full attention

It’s tempting to scroll your phone while playing dollies with your daughter. Don’t do it. She knows you aren’t paying attention. Make your playtime with your child as distraction free as possible. Put down your phone. Stop thinking about work. Don’t be in the middle of cooking a meal. Just play.

More ideas to help you play

You’re committed to spending more time with your child. But, there are only so many times you can play cars without going crazy. Here’s some fun ideas:

  • Dance together. Blast some music you both love and have a dance party. Sing along. Be crazy.
  • Find a board game they love to play. And then play it over and over again. Even when you’ve grown tired of it. Kids love mastering things, so if they feel like they’re good at something, they’ll want to keep playing.
  • Make something together. Try an art project. Bake cookies. Make a craft.
  • Go outside. Push them on a swing. Throw or kick a ball around. Make a sandcastle. Take a walk together.

Your kids want your time and attention. They want you to play with them. Take time consistently to spend time with them.