This week we welcome guest blogger Kristi Cooper. Human Sciences Specialist in Family Life and new grandma.
I had no idea I’d be taking my own advice years after I wrote about the overspending of grandmothers and aunts on new babies. I’m very excited to provide my 11 month old granddaughter with as many new experiences as she can handle. Her parents are practical and their home is small so the oodles of toys, clothes and other baubles that are bestowed upon her by well-meaning relatives create stress. Besides, my grandgirl is pretty happy with simple household surfaces to pound and pull up on, and a human or two to keep her entertained.
Marketers of baby stuff focus on female consumers – aunts and grandmothers in particular – because their hearts are as big as their wallets. By keeping our wallets closed and our hearts open we can avoid turning our grandchildren into beggars and entitled teens. Here are 5 ways to love those precious little ones without creating strained relationships, stress over stuff and maintain our financial wellbeing.
- Gift of Talent/Skills – We all have the need to contribute to our family and community. Share age-appropriate activities with your grandchild or grand baby. Play together – Teach a game from your childhood such as kick-the-can or hide-and-seek.
- Gift of Words – Talk Together – Encourage grandchildren, nieces, and nephews by highlighting the positive values you see in them. Ask about their goals in life. Talk about how they can reach those goals. Point out the characteristics that you admire in them.
- Gift of Time – Nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention – sharing conversation and activities. Work together Do household chores, homework, bicycle repair or volunteer in the community with your younger generation. Working together teaches skills, work ethic and the value of contributing to others.
- Gift of Objects – We all like to receive objects that have been thoughtfully selected just for us. Keep material gifts to a minimum and consider the life-span of the object. Create together – Choose toys and consumables like art materials that stimulate critical thinking, imagination and are age-appropriate. Ask yourself, who is doing the thinking – the child or the manufacturer?
- Gift of Touch/Self Care – Wrap these gifts in plenty of hugs and kisses, bedtime backrubs, tickles and laughter. Practice relaxation techniques so you can be fully present for your grandchild.
YOU are the best gift your grandchild can receive!
Got your attention didn’t I? Now moms, don’t be mad at me because we can be WAY fun, and trust me I am a really fun mom, it’s just that sometimes I feel like fathers are more fun!
So I was curious. Was I just ‘feeling’ less fun? Or is there was a difference in how mothers and fathers have ‘fun’. Here is what I found.
A summary of Fathers Involvement in Their Children’s Schools shared the following (http://nces.ed.gov/pubs98/fathers/):
- Researchers are in agreement that mothers and fathers interact differently with their children (Parke, 1995).
- Fathers spend proportionately more time playing with their children, while mothers spend a greater proportion of their total time with their children in caretaking activities (Lamb, 1986).
- Because mothers spend a greater amount of time overall with their children, they may actually spend more time playing with them than do fathers, yet caretaking is still what best characterizes their time, while play best characterizes the fathers’ overall time with their children. Fathers and mothers also play differently with their children, with fathers much more likely to be rough and tumble (Parke, 1995; Hetherington and Parke, 1993).
Whew!! I’m not less fun! I just play different than fathers do! I would love to hear how you play and have fun. Whether you are a mother or a father, spending time having fun and playing is so important. Share ideas here!
I woke up this morning feeling like cheering!!! I think it was the sun! Yesterday I was thinking about what to write for the blog and spent some time trying to ‘watch’ play. However, I didn’t just watch children play. I watched adults play. I watched infants to the aging play. As I reflected on the play I noticed a common theme. Are you ready?
We really do like to play.
How did I know? We let our bodies show it. We smile. We raise our eyebrows. We open our mouth and laugh. We relax our shoulders. We BREATHE. Yes we like to play and our bodies show the pure un-inhibited enjoyment of it!
I wonder if that’s why sometimes as adults we are tired after playing? Because we finally just let our bodies and brain enjoy the moment we are in. Hmm, so play might really be important in more ways than one.
I would LOVE to know how you play! I want you to recognize the times that you freely let go and allow yourselves to really enjoy the moment! Take time to really pay attention and allow yourself those moments. Tell me abut your play!
As adults we go to work each day – either at a place of employment or at home. And by the end of the day we’re tired and ready to relax. Well, did you know that child also go to work by playing. That’s right, play is a child’s work.
Let me give you some examples. When I was a child I played house. I took care of the babies, fixed meals, and talked to my pretend husband and kids. I played school with my siblings and we took turns being the teacher. On other afternoons we took things out of the cupboard, lined them up on the counter, and played store. One of us got to be the clerk while the others made the purchases.
We worked hard at playing and at the same time we worked hard at learning. These play experiences helped us with skills in math, science, language and writing. We also learned how to get along, how to have conversations, how to figure out problems.
How do you see your child playing? What is he learning as he “works”?
I admit to feeling like I had a play deficit when my children were little. So much so that I used to make myself feel pretty guilty because as an early childhood educator I felt like I should be better at ‘PLAY’. What I discovered is that I just play differently. And guess what. So do you!
We all play differently. I found that I like play that is active or has action. Others like to play board and/or card games that are more quiet. While still others enjoy the make believe and dress up adventures. There is no right or wrong way to play. There is just play. Pure and simple. Play. Play is face to face with the children in your life. Engaging their mind and body while creating strong relationships. Back and forth communication. I guess my message really is don’t over analyze how you play or if you play is good enough or right enough.
Pat yourself on the back, give yourself credit and tell me how you like to play with the children in your life.
“Play is a way in which we can learn about ourselves and others. It is at the heart of creativity and makes us more productive”.
Parents often greet a new baby with stuffed animals, dolls and other toys, all given in anticipation of the play that is to come. Join us in March as we talk about the power of play for children of all ages.
Click on the podcast below to hear fascinating research on play.
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As summertime approaches, it might be tempting to enroll your child in a variety of events to keep him/her busy while not in school. While extra curricular activities certainly can benefit your child and be very fun for him/her, too many activities can be overwhelming. Having a jam packed schedule can leave your child without any free time to just play. So, with summer quickly approaching, I wanted to remind everyone of a few of the benefits of play.
Creativity. When children are given time for free play, they create play scenarios, imagine a new world, and turn common objects into magical props. Their creativity and imagination can take them anywhere!
Social development. During free play, children interact with one another in a variety of ways. They may need to cooperate to help a friend in need, determine who will “play” the pilot and who will “play” the passenger, solve a disagreement, or tend to a crying “baby” doll. All of these scenarios help them learn how to communicate and cooperate with one another.
Physical development. Especially outside in the summer, free play gives children a chance to develop their gross (running, jumping, throwing) and fine (finger painting, tying shoes, coloring) motor skills. It also helps to keep them active and healthy!
An escape. Let’s face it, the world is a busy, stressful place. Whether it’s a big soccer game, a bully at school, a math exam, or troubles at home, life can be stressful and serious for children of all ages. Play gives them a chance to escape reality, and just have fun being a kid for a while.
Have you noticed a difference in children when they’re overbooked? How does it affect their energy level? Their mood? Their relationships?