The other day, Ayva said to me, “Mom, why don’t you ever play with me?”.
I reminded her about all of the things that we do together, shopping, cooking, reading books, but she wouldn’t let up.
“No, Mom. I mean, like playing. In my room. You never play with me.”
Ayva was right. I don’t ever really take the time to go into her room, get on the floor and just hang out with her. When I was a new mom, there was always someone around to give me advice on things to do with my baby girl. Tummy time! Read lots of books! No screens! Even as she got older, they still had feedback for me. Sensory tables! Playgrounds! NO screens! Now that she’s 5, though, all of the parenting experts have exited the building and I’m on my own to figure out how to play with my kindergartener. I’m not talking about cooking with her, or making crafts, or any of the other pinterest inspired ideas of ways to spend time together. I’m talking about straight up, no holds barred play that she’s asking for.
When Ayva was a baby, I’d lay on my back on the floor and lift her up with my legs. I’d engage her with stuffed animals, talk on pretend telephones or make silly voices to make her laugh. When she asks me to play now, I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure what to do. We often do puzzles and play board games, but I think what Ayva is asking is for me to be more like one of her friends, playing “Family” (a pretend play game that her friends love), or “Work”. I’m going to keep it real with y’all, it’s hard doing pretend play with a kindergartener! First of all, it never ends. The game can go on for HOURS. Also, I’m always so amped up, worrying about what needs to be done around the house, or work, or what’s for dinner, that clearing my mind enough to pretend to be my real child’s fake mother takes a lot of effort. Sometimes, as terrible as this is going to sound, I just don’t have it in me.
But, she asked me to play. She specifically asked me to come in her room and play with her. I know at some point, when she’s a teenager with friends who are way cooler than her old mom, I’m going to be longing for the days that she asks me to spend time with her. So, my baby wants to play? We shall play. Maybe next time she’ll let me be the daughter!
Things To Remember When Playing With A 5-Year-Old
1. Ask her what she wants to do.
2. Assure her that the play is about her. She don’t have to pick an activity to appease me.
3. Be flexible.
4. Forget about rules.
5. Be open to being silly or getting dirty.