This morning I spent half an hour lying under my kitchen table with Sam and, his best train friends, Thomas and Percy, playing “table tunnel”. It was whilst I was down there, surrounded by sticky things, a shrivelled up piece of lettuce and dog hairs that I thought; when was the last time we actually just played?
It took every ounce of determination I possess not to immediately grab the broom and start sweeping, a manoeuvre which, for some reason, always seems to end up in a full blown clean of the ole kitchen. This time, however, I figured that the lettuce could stay there for just a bit longer so we could simply play.
And that we did! We made up songs about being in a table tunnel. We clapped hands together, there was definitely some tickling and one bumped head (mine!), we had a great time and, despite it being somewhat cold and dirty, it was lovely!
Sam and I lead a very active life! We’re always dashing here, there and everywhere to this playgroup and that play session, which we love, but it does mean that often, when we get back, I’m then distracted. I come home to the remnants of breakfast, a dog who needs to be walked, there are meals to prepare, my phone is beeping and, once I walk through my front door, it feels like there’s always a job that needs to be done, pushing mummy play on to the backburner.
Plus, let’s be honest here, play can sometimes be downright boring! We’re currently at that stage, before imaginative games properly kick in, where, for us, play basically means let’s do something and then do it again, and again, and again. Repeating the same thing over and over about a million times. Of course I know that’s how he’s learning but it doesn’t exactly make for the wildest amount of fun I’ve ever had, and, keeping those levels of enthusiasm up can be exceptionally tiring! Especially when you’ve accidentally bought decaf coffee…
I’ve also found that play can feel a bit disheartening sometimes too. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve set up a wonderful and creative activity; corn flour paints, gloop or some other pinteresty mum activity, only to find it immediately snubbed. Rejected without even so much as a try.
I had so many imaginings when Sam was tiny, ideas of sensory play, arts and crafts and beautiful moments of creativity, however, I’ve since discovered you need a child who is interested in those kinds of things to really make them work! Initially I did feel sad about this but I refuse to lose all hope! Rest assured I’ll keep on trying and am definitely holding out that perhaps, one day, Sam might sit still or want to get arty with me. Watch this space… for quite a while!
For now though, I simply need to take him as he comes, push things with him, chase things with him and, in today’s case, crawl under things with him. But, more importantly, I need to find the time to do so. To remember the dishes can wait, the text messages can be answered later and all chores can simply be put on hold, whilst I allow myself to be led by my child and follow his lead on play.
I’ve had this quote, by Fred Rogers, stuck up in my kitchen for a good few months now, reminding me of the importance of play:
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning but, for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
And it’s something I want to be a part of too!