Kids are built to wiggle, bounce, jump and run... to play! With busy family schedules, multiple responsibilities and increasing desk time at school, it's easy for the balance to shift so your kids have more work and less play. Playtime is important for every child. It helps with creative development, behavior, and cognitive skills, and is the stress relief kids need in an increasingly demanding world.
Turning off the television and electronic devices on school nights helps in many ways — kids get their homework done without interruption, families are more likely to sit down to share an evening meal together, and you will create extra time for play.
After dinner, set up a game that kids and adults can enjoy together. If you have the luxury of space and mild weather, try croquet or badminton. You'll have fun, and everyone will get some exercise after the evening meal. Hang up a basketball net and shoot some hoops. Start a game of tag with the entire family — the more players, the merrier the game will be! Cooler evenings indoors are ideal for a game of cards, a board game or old favorites like charades. Turn paper-airplane making into a shared sport. Teach your kids how to fold the paper and have a competition to see whose plane can fly the farthest.
Welcome your children into the kitchen when you're preparing meals or doing other tasks. It's a wonderful way for parents and kids to spend time together and another opportunity to snatch some playtime. Kids can color and draw, play guessing or word games, or work on a craft while the parent is present to encourage and praise.
Turn must-do's like cleaning their room into a giggly game. Have a race with them to see who can pick up the most toys, hang up the most clothes or find the most dishes to return to the kitchen!
Look for other opportunities to include your children while you take care of duties. Raking leaves can turn into a fun playtime when kids help and enjoy the irresistible urge to dive into the leaf pile. You can sing, dance and tell jokes together and still manage to fold laundry or change bed linens. Add a new bath toy and let them splash and play while they scrub away the day, or try a game of hide-and-seek before you find them and herd them off to bed for a story before lights out.
Snatch extra moments to play with your kids whenever possible, and designate some specific playtime for weekends. Your house will always need cleaning, but childhood is fleeting, and that taste of fun is a better investment of time. Grab some sidewalk chalk and challenge them to a game of hopscotch, give them a taste of freedom on a bike, or ditch the vacuuming and play a game of kickball together!
Give your child a handful of crayons and some paper and let them play quietly nearby while you tackle home-office chores.
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