Saturday, January 17, 2015

Gotta play!

It is funny. Having multiple children can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to my balancing act of my priorities. Of course one of my biggest priorities (and desires) is pending quality time with them – getting down on the ground and really playing with them. Yet my other priority of…pretty much accomplishing anything (be it work, make a call to set up an appointment, a trip to the market, COOKING MEALS, general pick-up of the house, laundry, working out, whatever) has to fit into the day somewhere too.

I know, I know, I know…the old adage of children don’t keep and you can leave your dishes and laundry and all that, but that only works to a degree. At some point, all that stuff really does have to get done. And it isn’t realistic (at least in my world) to save it all for during nap/quiet time or after bedtime. So unfortunately too often our play time ends up unfocused on my part. I will play a little, fold a little (all in the same room), play a little, pick up toys a little, play a little, make a call, and so on.

When it was just Nolan, this would have never worked. I was the only one around and we played for hours. It also took me FOREVER to get anything done, but with only one it didn’t matter as much…it is more of a balancing act now. With three, they so frequently entertain each other (the blessing part) that I can convince myself without much work that they are playing together, that it is important for their relationships and development and all that, and I busy myself elsewhere (the curse). I really do think that this is good for them. I really do think that I don’t need to be “entertaining” them 24/7. BUT…I too really do understand that MY relationship with them also needs nourishing.

All of this has really been at the forefront of my mind lately as I’m working through Chalene Johnson’s 30 Day Push. I have been looking at my day, my time management, my goals and how I’m going to reach them, focusing on attracting what I want, being positive, being the mom, friend, wife, person that I want to be and more. More times in the past couple weeks than I can remember in months, we have chosen to stay home and play vs. get ready, load up, and go on an outing. Sometimes our outings are all about them – the zoo, the library, N’s school, whatever - and those are awesome, but those are the times when I want them to discover and play independently of me. Sometimes our outings are not all about them – going to the market, running an errand to the bank or the post office, etc - and sometimes these are unavoidable. And honestly, I’m ok with that too. I think it is important for them to understand how things work, what goes into making our lives happen, picking our healthy foods together, and yadda yadda. But again…not times for me to really get into play with them…obviously.

So…enter conscious change.  Last week for the first time, I pulled out the dried kidney/pinto/black beans for the girls to play with and they played for over an hour and a half. Two other days this week, we have had lengthy, delicious (and of course nutritious) play-feasts. Nolan has LOVED me “cooking” for him and serving him multiple course meals and calling him “Sir”. The girls have really started to get a hang of the play kitchen thing too. I have had to actively avoid getting too involved in the picking up as we go along, but the kids have actually been pretty amazing about helping me clean it all up when we are done! More time has been spent cuddled under blankets on the couch or in beds reading books, and more. It has been awesome.

Honestly, it has so much fun. But I know how easy it could be to slip back into our old habits. I guess that is part of why I’m sharing this. Perhaps putting it out into the world will help hold me accountable to my goal of sticking with it, playing more and being more focused in our play. Maybe you are a momma (or a dad) who struggles with the exact same thing…or something similar…and reading this will bring it to your attention and can help you too. I know for me, until I was really thinking about my days and my goals, I didn’t even realize how out of balance I felt.

Here’s to playing more in 2015! (with a few seconds set aside for photos. Hehe)

This is what an hour and half in looks like.
Nolan saw the beans sitting out and has since asked to play with them about four more times. :)
My little Chefs.
One of the many feasts they prepared.