Let Them Play!

A couple years ago I was enjoying a conversation with a kindergarten-teacher friend of mine.  As a teacher myself, I was excited to hear about her first few days with her very first class.  I don’t remember much of our conversation now, but the following statement has stayed with me to this day:

“My biggest struggle is that I have to teach them how to play pretend.”


She had all sorts of fun centers set up in her classroom:  kitchen, dress up, cars, etc. and her students didn’t know what to do with them!  How very sad and disturbing…

In my five short years as Mommy, I have learned a few things.  One is that I can’t (and shouldn’t, and don’t want to, and won’t) fill their every waking hour with stimulating activities and bright, educational toys.  Also, I can’t give them my undivided attention all the time.  And… that’s OKAY.  GOOD, even.  Children need to learn to play on their own, to solve their own problems, to create fun when they are… (I hate this word)… bored.

One of my very favorite things as Mom is to “hide” and watch my children playing together.  I’ve even been known to be busy or just plain ignore their requests for help (not all the time, of course), like when they ask for newspaper hats… it’s much more entertaining to see what they’ll come up with on their own.  Dancing newspaper capes, anyone?

Okay, so maybe I could have rescued my son from the beauty shop chair, but then I wouldn’t have any good pictures to show his future bride!


Every once in a while, if I squint just right, I even catch my older children nurturing my younger children.  What a bonus for play time!

My oldest starts kindergarten tomorrow.  Although I worry a little about her asking too many questions or getting sassy or wanting things her way all of the time (ahem)… I do NOT worry about her not knowing how to PLAY!

Give your kids some space and give yourself a break.  Let them play!

4 Responses

  1. Hooray for you! Your kids will grow up with imagination and creativity. I sure wish more moms felt the way you do. I raised my daughter that way and she’s raising her kids that way, too.

    I’ve given you an award! Come on over and check it out.

  2. What a great post! I will do that too sometimes, hide around the corner and listen or watch my children play, I love it!

    I came across your site from Moneysavingmom, and I love it!

    Off to read some more!

  3. I actually had this problem with my oldest daughter. I had to beg her to play Barbies or kitchen or dress-up with me. She just had no interest in anything that would involve her imagination.

    Fortunately, I learned the error of my ways – WAY TOO MUCH TV – before the other kids were born. Now, with a virtually non-existent amount of time spent watching tv they all pretend play together. Even Isabelle has found her imagination. As I type this, they are creating and participating in their own olympics. And for some reason, they are all wearing bathing suits.

    This was a fantastic post and you are so right, children do need to play as often as possible, especially without some electronic device telling them how to play! I wish I had read this post 8 years ago. Thanks for the encouragement to continue on though!

    By the way, how did the first day of kindergarten go?

  4. Now that my one year old and her older sister, 4, are able to play together it is great. They both learn so much from each other and I LOVE to watch–and then get right in there with them! The pictures of A putting barretts in L’s hair cracks me up because that is totally A & A.

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