Let's be honest mamas. Sometimes you just don't feel like playing with your kids. I sure don't all the time. Sometimes I find myself giving in and letting the girls watch a show on TV just because I know the playroom won't be destroyed and I won't have to spend an hour cleaning up.
Before I had kids, I never realized the time and effort involved in playing with toys and crafts, cleaning them up, organizing them, dealing with toys being broken, helping dress baby dolls, and playing referee when both girls want the same toy. It can be exhausting!
I really want to be that mom who loves to get down and play with her kids. I want my girls to see excitement in my eyes when they ask me, "Mom, do you want to play with us?" So, this is what I have done to enjoy playtime with my girls without losing my mind.
1. Control the toy chaos. (Make sure you read a previous post I wrote) We have a pretty decent sized living room with a playroom attached. We keep 90% of the girls toys that are out in the playroom. They have a few things in their bedrooms and a couple things in the living room. Oh yes, I put a lot of toys away. I rotate toys every month or so. The playroom has bins that all of the toys have to go into each night.
2. Realize you don't have to play all the time. Our oldest, Madilyn, doesn't nap anymore so she is up all day long. I was finding myself in this place where I felt like I had to play with her all day long. If I didn't, I felt guilty and she thought that I wasn't making her a priority. I sat down and talked to her and said that "Mommy has things she has to do around the house during the day too. Sometimes I will play too but sometimes I will help you get started doing something and you can finish."
3. Prepare yourself for some messes. Kids are going to make messes. It's a guarantee. If we are going to work on a messy craft like something that involves glitter, glue and/or paint, we all work together and clean up the playroom really good. We put all the dolls away. We make sure all the kitchen pots and pans are put away. This way, glitter doesn't get on everything, just the craft table, the floor and of course, all over the kiddos! I try to make the girls wear aprons.
4. Make rules around playtime and clean up. We have a few rules like "One craft at a time," "5 minute clean up," and "Clean at the end of the day." "5 minute clean up" is my favorite. If I am about to lose my mind with the toy chaos, I say, "Ok girls, time for a 5 minute clean up!" and we work together and spend 5 minutes putting toys back in their bins, put marker lids back on, pick up little pieces of paper all over the floor and maybe even vacuum if I can see the floor. We also try really hard to put sets of toys back together when we are done playing. I have found that if the kitchen set of fake food is all over the playroom, they don't want to play with it. Playing in chaos is no fun.
5. Less is more. It's OK to keep some toys and crafts out of their reach. Instead of giving them 8 coloring books at a time, pick one. I bet they can focus more and enjoy it better! Remembering that this too shall pass and I hear that I will miss the messes when my girls are all grown up. I know I will.
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