Give me five minutes

We like to do play activities here, naturally.

The knack is to get the right balance for today, 2nd October 2009. This is different than just the right balance. Everyone talks about balancing their lives. Mostly I take them to mean they want equal amounts of time, effort and energy on each thing. I don’t see balance like that.  There are days when you have to do more of something say errands or stay home with a sick child. There are some lovely days when you can sit for a long time to do a project together or the children take a longer than expected nap and you get things done.

We do need some checks and balances to make sure we are getting in the right things for us and the children. It’s easier to think in blocks of time but over time I’ve developed a feel for the right fit of things for my family.

Play with your child need not be just play together with you leading but adult parallel play. You are doing something and they are playing nearby. There’s a lot of mummy guilt about doing this.  ” I should be entertaining engaging my child.”

There are times when you just need a moments peace to stop and this should not make you feel bad for grabbing that magazine or book and reading for a few. In fact it is good for your child to see, firstly you have other interests besides them. They’ll be naturally curious to what you’re doing and probably will come look, try to take, eat etc. Secondly, it gives them independent time to develop their play skills. Their world is pretty much mapped out. Their routine, their toys. There are not a lot of choices. Here is a prime time to play in an unstructured way.

This is when they find things and experiment with play. They are usually safely nearby for you to witness and intervene. It’s now that they start learning patience, perseverance. It’s where they innovate and imagine. They put into practice ideas they have been developing and remembering from books you’ve read together plus the DVDs and TVs you’ve watched. It’s when they ask the questions because in that silence they can think or sing, or dance.

Since many of us are at home with other things to do as well as be with our children this is a vital skill for us to develop. Some take a certain time each day and focus on an activity where they do it together; reading or craft. That’s the child’s time with the parent. The parent then needs to get some chores done and what happens to the child? For this, Id’ say this is the perfect time for some independent play, depending upon the age of the child to what you do. Children can be independent and engaged and close by. It does require us to think about what they can do and give them plenty of opportunities to hone and improve this skill. The ability to concentrate on one thing is a difficult job for all of us. Here we have small moments in time to allow this skill to develop. We give them the chance to play by themselves for longer and longer periods of time.

They are engaging themselves.

You may use the TV for these brief 10-15 minute chores because the kids will be totally captivated and entertained. I just hope you can mix it up a bit more and incorporate opportunities as well for your children to learn how to entertain themselves without relying on a screen. I’m not adverse to TV. We have one and use it. I like to have a few ideas up my sleeve because you know kids , just when you figure them out they change up the rules.

The skills of independence, imagination, perseverance and patience are all options available to help encourage at home in the small moments. Just like manners and respect is caught more than it’s taught. You can tell a child ’til you are blue in the face to eat with their mouth closed or not push passed anyone but if they see you doing it then all the talking is for nothing. These are the skills worth working on. Timeless skills that will serve your children well in all situations.

There is a drive to be always doing to give them a head start. It must be right to get them to do things earlier like read or ABC or write. While some children will naturally excel in these areas we must not neglect or rather we must remember these other play activity skills give our children the chance to really soar and excel in all areas especially emotionally. And we all know how emotions are so close to the surface in the under 5s..

We as parents have the responsibility to read between the lines; ask questions; seek out research; be skeptical and above all have our child’s long term interests in view.

Here’s one thing we do…..

We use Treasure basket play as a baby activity that changes all year round. What’s in your treasure basket? Find out how to make your own via my ebook or

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Do you have five minutes? Share what happens during that time.

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  1. […] almost seems wrong in many eyes to set up an environment for unstructured play. But for most of us we have our default go to activities, actions and behaviours. It’s all to […]


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