My friend Andrea recently posted this adorable video with her son Ben & her husband Matt playing together. I loved it for a hundred reasons--the best being it's such a great example of how to really play with kids. Knowing how to play with kids is one of those things that is supposed to be an obvious skill--I mean, what's to it, right? You sit, you laugh, you play. But as any parent who has wearied of the knock-knock joke will tell you, it's not always automatic, it's not always easy and it's not always fun.
Here are three tricks you can try to fake yourself out if play doesn't come easy to you.
Set the timer. By putting yourself on the timer, you take yourself off the clock and give yourself permission to not get a single thing done. For you list-makers out there, this approach also lets you thinking of your playtime as something on your to-do list that you can check off later.
Do nothing. This is the answer to all that ails you if you are play challenged and feel at a loss when faced with playtime with a three year old. Go where that child is, lie down on the floor and do nothing. Go ahead, close your eyes if you want to. Take a snooze. I promise within ten seconds that three year old figure out exactly what to do with you while you lie there and wait.
Follow his lead. What's so brilliant about the video above is that Ben (the three year old) is completely in charge of the play. He bangs on the piano and Matt matches both his intensity and his mood. Kids are constantly being asked to follow along, so nothing thrills them more than when during their playtime you as the parent reveal that you're willing to take a turn at not being in charge.
What are your secrets to playtime with your kids that doesn't leave you bored or distracted?