Play. A word that I love but an action that I don’t feel like I’m very good at.
As I read through Sally’s chapter on the month of June I was so inspired. The chapter centered on the theme of play.
She writes, “Ultimately, play is a process that, though most commonly practiced in childhood, can be enacted throughout the entirety of life.” (136)
I wanted to play! I wanted to be good at it! I want my sons to play and to enjoy.
Now, I do think they are pretty good at play. They have big imaginations fuels by good stories and equipped with bins full of costumes.
But today is Monday. And all I see is to-do’s up to my nose and I see my children.
As I fed Haddon his breakfast this morning I asked the Lord how to do it – I asked Him for wisdom.
Here’s how he answered.
I created a game for all 3 of us to engage. I wrote out a name of a room in our house and a time on each strip; one strip read “play room – 5 minutes” and another strip “kitchen- 7 minutes.” There were 8 strips, each with a room and a time limit. I folded the strips and put them in a bowl. On our chalkboard wall I drew a simple progress path checklist. I told the boys that we were going to play a game and that if they won – we have to cooperate! – they could watch a TV show. So, one boy draws a slip of paper. We read it; we take that room to clean. We divide the tasks (Grafton, you pick up the costumes; Leland, you pick up the cars, and I’ll do the rest… 😉 and I set the timer. I also played some fun music!
The object of the game is to clean the room happily in the amount of time on the timer. If we all did that we got a piece of candy (a jelly bean). If they didn’t work happily, no jelly bean.
The timer was mostly to keep this activity a game and keep us moving, instead of me gettting focused on the details and and ending up spending too much time cleaning any one room. When we finished with the room, whoever didn’t chose the slip crossed out the box on the chalkboard wall, we all ate a piece of candy, and the other boy drew a slip of paper. Throughout the game, we encouraged each other – finish well!! stay strong!! instead of the typical mom-reminder ‘keep doing your job.’
Now candy and TV may not be your kind of motivation, so you do you. But it is ours and I loved the dark chocolate kiss I ate when I was finished with the room. They loved their jelly beans, too!
Thankfully, the game worked! We had fun and the house got clean-er. Every room was touched, and nothing was “perfect” or “pristine” but it was much better. Clothes were hung, beds were made, toys were back in their bins. I even wiped down the bathrooms!
The boys earned their show and while they watched The Magic School Bus and ate a healthy snack to compensate for the sugary treat, I finished my tasks and got dressed. Win win!
Y’all – the tension of the to do list and play is such a real thing for me. And today by the Lord’s great grace I thought of a creative way to play and work. I didn’t micromanage or lose my cool. Instead we encouraged each other to work well, we moved quickly, and in the end, both boys loved the game. and I got dressed today!
Now I might not be able to use that every time but hey! Today :).
Sally ends the chapter, “Play is not frivolous. Far from it. Having fun and finding pleasure in games, make-believe, and various forms of recreation is beneficial to our brains, our bodies, and our emotional well-being – and thats true for every member of the family, moms and dads included. … June is a perfect time to make play a priority of your family…. You will create memories that will be cherished and remembered at every family gathering – a wonderful legacy of fun, growth, and friendship.” (148)
Before the boys drifted off to sleep at nap time, they both said, “That game was fun.” Praise the Lord.