As I look back on the pictures of Benedict from his first year of life, I'm suddenly very aware of the fact that not too long ago, he couldn't roll over on his own. When we first moved into our townhouse last summer, he could barely crawl. Now, just a few months later, he's standing on his own and taking a few brave steps.
As his development continues, his latest preferred activity is building towers with blocks and knocking them down. He can stack three blocks if we let him work on his own, and five blocks if we prevent him from immediately knocking them over. Getting down on the floor and building towers with Benedict is a lot of fun. He gets so happy when he knocks a tower over and starts clapping.
Each day with your children is a great gift. Make time for playtime.
Playing with your children is you giving them your time. Your time is the most precious resource and legacy that you can give your children. This time together is a chance for them to direct what you both will do. Benedict will choose simple activities based on his age, so although putting blocks on top of each other might not exactly be a thrill or an intellectual exercise for me, it's what he wants to do. So we do it. It's also ok to be a little silly. When Benedict was very little, I had a hard time adjusting to making silly noises at him. As the youngest child in my family, I was never really around little kids, so I was embarrassed to say silly things in public and speak at different pitches. Yet, that's what we do as parents. We meet our kids at their level and we celebrate them.
Talk to your kids while you play. Playtime is the perfect setting for finding out what's really going on in their lives. Their guard is down, it's a relaxed setting, and they feel more comfortable opening up with their true feelings and emotions. This is the time to listen and engage. Make them feel safe with you. A small investment of time now can pay dividends later. Playtime is also a great time for teaching. Share lessons, values, and inspirations with them. Encourage them to dream big and dream boldly.
When playing with your kids, remind them that they're loved. There are way too many kids out there who don't hear "I love you" from their parents. They're abused, neglected, and not valued. There might even be a few peers in your child's life who are telling them that they're not loved or that they're not special. Reinforce your love with physical touch. Never be too embarrassed to give your kids a hug and a kiss.
Give yourself permission on a daily basis to waste time playing with your kids. It's one investment with guaranteed returns. After all, tomorrow they’ll be a day older and you can’t get that day back.