The older my children get, the more independent they are. I remember the days when I couldn’t wait for them to be able to do certain things on their own. Now I miss the days when little hands reached up and needed me to help them do the smallest of tasks. How quickly a perspective can change.
I have loved each stage of their young lives, and know that I have many more to look forward to, as they are only 8 and 11. Recently, however, I realized that I was falling into a trap that I always thought I wouldn’t. I was missing opportunities to play with my children.
Playtime changes for children as they grow up, but I know it is still important. I have always played games with my kids, but this summer it hit me that I wasn’t doing it as often as I would have thought or liked. My son and daughter were always busy doing something on their own, whether it was reading, helping with household responsibilities, watching a movie, or playing independently. All of this is good, but I started missing those times when we played “house” and built buildings, or just enjoyed a good game of Candyland. It sounds like my children are all grown and I have missed this window. I know that isn’t the case. I think I just had a gentle inner nudge to keep playtime in our lives, even though my children are growing up and what play looks like to them may be changing. I think children may sometimes feel like they are too old to play, or it isn’t cool anymore. Maybe a parent offering to play with them gives them “permission” to play.
I know that spending time playing with my children, whether it is playing a game of Scrabble, bringing out the Kapla blocks (which are cool for even 40+ year olds), doing Mad Libs, or playing charades, is a good thing. I wouldn’t even rule out playing “babies” and “house” with my youngest. It opens the window for conversation and helps secure a bond that they will hopefully carry with them for life. Sounds like a lot for just a little playtime, but I do feel like it is a valuable piece of the parenting puzzle that shouldn’t be overlooked as children grow up. We are never to old to play, and there isn’t a price that can be put on that connection time in the big picture of family.