Benefits of Play Ideas for the Whole Family
In today’s busy world, it’s often hard to find time to slow down and just enjoy some good fun baby time. A parent who works full time may not have energy left to play with their baby after a long day at the office. A stay-at-home parent with several kids and a busy household often has too many demands on their time to devote hours each day to interactive playtime with the baby. Sometimes we let ourselves get so busy that the baby is lucky just to have their diaper changed and be fed on time. Here are some play ideas to help you find some good, quality time with your baby so you don’t miss out on the fun part of parenting – playtime together.
Play Ideas for the Working Dad
In most households, Dad has a full-time job outside the home which keeps him away 8 to 12 hours a day. This may be most of their baby’s awake time. How can a busy working father find time for fathering? Here are some ways:
Morning Play Time
If your baby is an early riser, make it your routine to get up a half hour before the baby, get ready for work, then enjoy some one-on-one play time for a half-hour, an hour, or as long as you can before you have to leave. The morning is usually a baby’s most alert and playful time of the day. This gives you both a time to connect and allows mom to get a little more sleep.
Late Nights with your Baby
You may have a baby who likes to stay up late into the evening and sleep in late. While it’s nice to relax and enjoy quiet time in the evenings without the baby, if you’re a busy dad with a 10-hour job, this may be the only time you get to spend with your baby during the week. Enjoy these evenings with your baby. They’ll grow up all too fast.
Bedtime Routines with the Kids
Instead of rushing your kids off to bed with a quick good night kiss, take a long hour to enjoy a longer bedtime routine. Make tooth brushing a family affair where you all brush together making funny faces in the mirror. Play a quiet game or put together a favorite puzzle. Give your kids a bath if needed, but make it fun. Snuggle in bed for a favorite bedtime story or tell your kids a short, made-up story each night.
Play Ideas for the Busy Mom
We all feel busier than we’d like to be. If you have several kids or have another job outside the home, your time and energy are going to be divided. Your baby may not get as much interactive play time as you wish you could give them. Here are some creative ways you can give your baby quality time when you can’t always give them quantity time:
Determine Your Priorities
So your house might not always be the cleanest on the block. You may not quite be able to keep up with the laundry. Dinner won’t be a five- course meal every night. Let the little things go for a while and focus on what’s most important to you – your relationship with your kids. Enjoy them while they’re young. It won’t matter in ten years if your windows were always clean. A close relationship with your kids will matter. Find a balance between kids and your other responsibilities that you and your spouse can live with.
Most babies and toddlers have certain times during the day when they are most attentive, playful, and eager for one-on-one play time with you. Figure out your baby’s best time of the day and set this aside to get down on the floor and enjoy the fun part of parenting. Use nap times for your own time, either to get other things done or nap yourself.
Of course, all moms are working (usually even harder than dads), and when you have another career outside the home, your time is really stretched. Make the most of your evenings with your kids. Take your baby with you whenever you run errands. Wear your baby in a sling or other carrier when you’re busy around the house. Involve yourself in the bedtime routine with your spouse, or take turns alternating nights.
Play Ideas for the Older Kids
It is valuable for older kids to develop a close relationship with their younger siblings. Preteens and older kids are the perfect age to help with baby play duty, however, try not to make it feel like “duty.” Make it fun!
Use the time of day when you are the busiest, such as the late afternoon or early evening, to ask your older kids to enjoy some fun play time with the baby or toddler. Instead of telling them to “watch the baby,” which can sound like a chore, ask them to make it fun by maybe crawling or running around, going outside in a safe area to play, getting out balls and other fun, active toys. This lets all your kids burn off their extra energy before dinner.
Reading out loud is a valuable skill for older kids to practice. Let your older kids read to you before bed each night. This gives you some quiet snuggle time together. Let your younger kids listen along to cultivate a love of reading in them too.
Active toddlers and preschoolers love to engage in ball sports such as kicking, running and throwing. Let your older kids take the toddler outside for some fun, energetic ball play. Take five or ten minutes to run outside and join your kids in a bit of their fun. This can make a big difference for you and them.
Dr. Sears, or Dr. Bill as his “little patients” call him, has been advising busy parents on how to raise healthier families for over 40 years. He received his medical training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, the world’s largest children’s hospital, where he was associate ward chief of the newborn intensive care unit before serving as the chief of pediatrics at Toronto Western Hospital, a teaching hospital of the University of Toronto. He has served as a professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto, University of South Carolina, University of Southern California School of Medicine, and University of California: Irvine. As a father of 8 children, he coached Little League sports for 20 years, and together with his wife Martha has written more than 40 best-selling books and countless articles on nutrition, parenting, and healthy aging. He serves as a health consultant for magazines, TV, radio and other media, and his AskDrSears.com website is one of the most popular health and parenting sites. Dr. Sears has appeared on over 100 television programs, including 20/20, Good Morning America, Oprah, Today, The View, and Dr. Phil, and was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine in May 2012. He is noted for his science-made-simple-and-fun approach to family health.