Making parenting playful in our house

Here, as promised from a previous post, is the start of a list of things we’ve started doing to make the parenting more playful in our  house. We certainly don’t have a monopoly on fun ideas so feel free to add to this list or add your comments. Finally, since our kids are still pretty young (the oldest is 6), some of these ideas might not carry as much weight with older kids. But here goes ……

1. Singing while we do almost anything – either made-up songs, childrens’ songs, or “adult” songs. Especially good for transitions (getting ready for bed, tidying up, getting ready to leave).  A trick I learned from Waldorf teachers is to keep the melody in the pentatonic scale which has 5 notes instead of 7. Whenever I sing in this scale, it has an almost fairy-like effect on children. They turn to me and follow much more attentively than I imagined possible.

2. Rhyming – this works anywhere, anytime.

3. I Spy – Especially good while stuck somewhere – waiting in line, at the doctor’s office …

4. Story-telling with them as protagonists

5. Kicking a ball in the direction of travel

6. Tossing things (socks while putting away laundry, etc)

7. Follow the leader

8. Playing Tag while waiting for a bus

9. Rope or a scarf to play tug of war, drape it over their heads, pretend bull-fights, flap around

10. Turn them into Pokemon (or whatever character they are currently into) – we tell our son that he is the pokemon trainer so he has to explain things and teach things kindly to his little sister (his pokemon)

11. We go through phases when we use the tactic of carrying out ongoing (yawn) “conversations” between our kids’ tongues and bodies when luring them to eat something they don’t like but need. i.e. the tongue says in a high pitched voice, “don’t worry about eating that stuff, just give me dessert!” The body replies, “no I’m feeling weak; don’t let me get sick; eat that broccoli instead” etc. etc.

12. Similarly, when going through a teeth-brushing-resistance phase, we put on an imaginary voice for the sugar bugs resisting the construction workers (the toothbrush) saying, “Look out, here they comes hide; hide; oh oh he’s rinsing his mouth;  hold on for your lives; aaaaaaaaaaa (when they get rinsed out and go down the drain); we’re gonners…… etc.” Our kids always get huge grins of satisfaction out of this one although for me I find it a real drag sometimes because it’s usually the end of the day and I just want to get the job done.  Yet I know that if I just summon up a bit more energy and creativity it will turn into a fun activity and go a lot more easily than it would have otherwise.

Life is short and the time with our small children even shorter. If we can see the struggles of the early years as temporary and enjoy the many small moments of fun and humour I feel it will add to our long-term relationship with our children, our own love of life, and our ability to get through even the most frustrating day.

Happy Parenting!

This entry was posted in Happiness, Peace, Play, Time, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Making parenting playful in our house

  1. Belinda says:

    Thanks DJ. I love these ideas and had not thought of many of them.

  2. Anika says:

    We sing to help us walk those last few blocks home, or play alligator and fishes (you can imagine how that would go) or pretend to be galloping/cantering/old horses or I do silly walks ahead of them to keep them coming. We sing going-home songs if we can (country roads, sing your way home, etc).

    The kids are infinitely more inspired to clean up if I join them. Sometimes, if they are more tired than usual, we pick things up with our toes or our elbows, or one person is the cleaning general telling each person what to pick up next, or we pick up only things of one colour at a time…

    Changing into pyjamas is fun if they get a bit of naked time to dance on the bed or jump around the room before getting into their pj’s.

    If they say something really ridiculous and outrageous in anger and you can see the humour in it, just laugh with joy at the time rather than waiting till they’re in bed to laugh at it. It will lighten the mood and maybe even get them laughing too.

    We also play I-Spy at bus stops, and sometimes I tell them stories that I know from memory. Stories are amazing, as they are instantly transported from the rainy tired uncomfortable experience of waiting for the bus into fairyland; I think we get a few eavesdroppers on these too, and they seem to like it as well.

    Food can be made fun too, by cutting jack-o-lantern faces in apples, or arranging vegetables in the shape of people or faces or giving each child the number of almonds that corresponds to their ages…

    Bouncing rhymes are great for toddlers, but older kids love them too. Sometimes I have all of mine– ages 6, 4, and 1 on my lap at the same time and we are all singing a rollicking “Rough Road” till they are all on the floor under the 1-year-old in a big laughing heap.

    Go on a tire swing with them.

    That’s all for now; look forward to hearing others!

  3. Brian Powell says:

    love all your strategies and input on parenting – where do you find the time?? I appreciate your enquiry around raising boys and male energy. I work with a lot of families in child protection and have worked with a lot of men around raising men’s consciousness – at the end of the day, in spite of my coming of age in second-wave feminism and great strivings towards gender neutrality, males have different energy than females and we must find ways to nurture that energy in positive ways. A big piece for me is how the genders integrate/reconcile/balance their opposite – this is a crucial piece I feel, and parenting is key to laying out the capacity for integration.

    Your thoughts?


    • Edgymama says:

      It’s great to get all this information, but my question still is how do we help our sons side-step the boy code? Do we sequester them away from society? No that won’t work anymore if it ever did. Even kids who live in the country or in isolated communities who used to be somewhat sheltered from the onslaught of mainstream media now have easy access to it through the internet. Do we monitor the peer group like crazy and keep the conversation going about what they’re seeing, how they’re behaving, what they’re feeling – I think this is the only answer – as difficult and challenging and exasperating as this can be.

  4. Belinda says:

    Hi Brian,
    Thanks for the compliments. We are two mama’s here – and that just barely allows us to find the time. Nice to meet you here, again. And wonderful to hear your perspective. I do feel that males generally do have a different energy, though there’s a wide range and cross-over within each gender. Integrate – reconcile – balance….? Yes, this is a big piece. Any tips? I wish I had more to to contibute. I do however, believe that this work starts in childhood.

  5. Belinda says:

    Wow, now here’s a conversation finally brewing!!!! I’m thinking we can’t side-step the boy-code, but may in fact need one. The question is is it just a boy’s code? Who among us: boys and girls yearn for a hero’s journey? If what Brian suggests that males have different energy, and he’s definitely not the first to suggest so, then what if not all males have the same different energy, what if plenty of females have male energy and vice-versa? Can there not be codes of honour and behaviour that might be flexible and adaptable and speak to the highest values we, as pacifist, progressive parents, aspire to teach our cildren?
    I say yes! The art is to steer away from the bland, homogeonized, polarized gender codes represented in much of media, and consumer culture, and instead embrace….please someone else finish my sentence!!!!

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