Playtime

I've learned something since becoming a parent - I'm no good at playing.  This revelation has also explained another conundrum that has bothered me for years: why it is that some women just can't seem to sit still and are forever looking round for something to be doing.

This week's #WASO theme is 'play', and it's something that consumes a lot of our time at home.  But here's the thing - I'm terrible at just sitting and playing.  Within seconds of sitting down to play with the boys, my head is suddenly filled with a hundred and one little niggling things that I really need to do right now!! 

Is this what is going on with many of the middle-aged women I know?  Are they still responding to a long-established need to be doing something . . . anything . . . else?  Or perhaps they are trying to silence the siren call of the many, many little jobs that seem to need doing at any given moment, even if those jobs have long since been completed?

I know I've developed the twitches already.  Only the other day, a friend came round for coffee and I couldn't stop myself fluttering around the house, moving laundry about, tidying toys, twitching cushions and throws.  It took a huge effort of will to make myself actually sit down and talk to her, even though I was incredibly glad that she'd come, and looking forward to our chat.

When OB says "Sit down Mummy!  Carpet Mummy!", as he does at least 20 times a day, I immediately begin thinking of the washing up.  And believe me, I'm not a tidy, houseproud woman!  But the truth is that just as the boys have had to be taught how to play, so have I. 

I know, I know how important play is in these children's social, emotional and intellectual development.  I really do know.  So I sit down on the carpet and try to join in with the endless rearrangement of toy food onto various plates, fake-drinking a million cups of "Mummy toffee" (is it possible that I drink too much coffee?!), and nom nomming my way through the plastic pizza.  Yum.

Meanwhile I'm fighting the sound of the laundry screaming at me from the kitchen.  Sometimes I even have to resist the urge to tidy up the toys while the boys are playing with them!  And yet, once the boys are napping, or have gone to bed for the night, do you think I spend my free time cleaning and tidying?  Not much!

It's even worse when I've put some thought into it and actually prepared some fun activities that we can do together.  Toddlers never seem to want to do it the way you planned it!  We're usually about 10 seconds in when I start feeling frustrated because they aren't doing it right.  What a nerd I must have been as a child!

There's been a poem going around on the internet about how the cleaning and tidying can take care of itself while our little ones are little because they won't be so desperate for our company for long!  Well, I've tried it and believe me, the cleaning and tidying doesn't take care of itself, but the other part is true.  I know a day will come when I would give anything to sit down on the floor with OB and chomp my way through another slice of plastic toast.  Perhaps then I'll have to console myself with tidying away people's coffee cups a bare nanosecond after they've taken their last sip.

In the meantime, I make yet another resolution to go with the flow - to find the fun in megabricks, plastic food and rebuilding the train track 50 times, and to embrace the results when their imagination, curiosity and creativity makes mincemeat of the fun I had planned!



Comments

  1. I really get where you are coming from. I struggled so much with the endless playing of 'bin lorries' and that was compounded by stress and tiredness I think. In the end a therapist helped me to see the light and ordered me to be a slummy mum, cook baked beans more often and just spend time. Despite my anger at his advice, I have to admit it worked.
    This is a lovely post. Thank you for writing it.

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    1. 'Slummy Mummy'! I love the concept! :)

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  2. When we think about how well play works to align thinking and establish norms in no crisis situations, maybe we can start to think that play iS work, and it will feel easier to slip in to it! And of course there is the bonding...

    But yes, me too. Play gets infested with 'the list'. In single parenthood there is no escape from "The List'. Mx

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    1. I must admit I cheat by encouraging loads of playdates, and making full use of grandparents when they are able to visit - I find other adults are so much more enthusiastic about play than I am! But, yes, the bonding . . .

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  3. I too get easily distracted when playing...
    Give me crafts, dancing, baking any day, but pretend play, especially cooking and drinking those tiny cups of pretend tea, no thanks!
    I love the concept of Slummy Mummy, and think we all ought to embrace it as often as possible!

    Many thanks for linking up with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out x

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    1. Thanks for hosting WASO - such great idea :) I love blogging to a theme!

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  4. I can't play, I'm rubbish at it. I was great at it as a kid but now I struggle with 'pretend', ii think I always knew ii'd struggle with this, hence adopting siblings, they'd always have someone to play with, well, that was the plan :)

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    1. Such a great idea - ready-made playmates! At the moment I have a similarly-aged foster child so they play well together, but he'll be moving on soon and I won't have any more children similar in age to my son, so he'll be an only child to all intents and purposes.

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  5. love the honesty - i too can get plagued by the to do list and become a fleeting and flighty and lacking in concentration play-er. I love playing, though. still battling at times with the controlling elements which is really frustrating and I want to break up the train track 50 times.

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