Because of the crazy times, lots of people are suddenly home with their young children for extended and unexpected periods of time. I’m writing up a few general ideas I’ve learned over the years of being at home with one, two, three, and now four children.
General idea number one…
You are Not the Entertainment.
You are a provider who sources food, keeps a roof intact, equips a bed, encourages brushing teeth, and coos softly over headaches and stubbed toes. You are not an entertainer.
With the exception of one highly concentrated 45 minutes a day, you are not available to play.*
You are a pond, and your child is a frog. You are lily pads that they like to hop on every once in a while. You do not have good ideas for interesting games. You do not know what might be fun. You have a speckle of imagination, a leftover algae of green krongu imagination, to their utter essence of it. One of your imagination speckles is actually something they told you they were interested in, and you can periodically repeat this back to them.
Your child is returning to you from a scheduled environment where they have been interrupted ceaselessly: just settled on a good game? Playtime is over. lunchtime? Is now over. You were still writing? Stop writing. They adapted to interruptions. Now they will have to adapt to no interruptions. It may take three days. It may take four. They will adapt, I promise.
Don’t think for a moment that you have better ideas of what to play than they do, because you don’t. And if you think you do, you will confuse them and they will believe you, for a little while.
You are boggy and slow moving and they can splash through you and swim around to be reminded of what it feels like to be underwater and slow moving. Not only is this a useful approach to keep in mind, it is absolutely the truth.
*Play whatever you and they want during this 45 minutes and live it up. Tag. Hide and seek in a room that has one piece of furniture. Pillow fight. Card game they adore. Extraordinary slow-moving board game that has no winner.