Have we forgotten how to play?

Jyotsna Tokas

A friend recently admitted to me, that she often finds playing with her children ‘boring’. She admits “If I have to spend another afternoon playing aliens and spaceships with tinfoil wrapped around my head, I will scream,” she told us.

My husband is amazing at immersing himself in child-play. And he says that making the effort to completely lose yourself in playing with your children (which, as he points out, you only get to do for a few years, say 5%, of your life) is really, really worth it.

But although I love baking and doing all sorts of creative activities, I admit myself, there have been times when I would rather have done anything but pretend a squirrel wearing a pink wig in a pretend café.

I’m not sure it’s that playing with my children is ‘boring’ (they are far from boring), but more that I have forgotten how to play. Maybe it’s self-consciousness, maybe it’s adult cynicism, or maybe it’s just having too many competing things to do and think about. Whatever the reason, I often find it hard to get into it.

I have found that when I do really properly play with my children (aged 3 and 2), it is one of the most joyous and magical experiences available to a person. I find that I do completely lose myself in their enthusiasm, and imagination, and obscure rules. And the sight of mummy bouncing around pretending to be a ‘princess rabbit’ brings them such happiness.

The value of playing was really brought home to me the other day when a friend’s son, who is seven, came around to play and declared himself bored with all my son’s ‘babyish’ toys.

It really should go without saying that playing with your children is a good idea. When I think that my children may soon get addicted to the modern technological culture of Facebook, iPads, and electronic games, it makes me feel really sad.

It’s time we parents should make it a “child’s play” to play with your kids whenever we get time from our super busy routines.