a Question of Play

by Laura on January 20, 2012

I homeschool my kids. I see them from 6:30 in the morning until about 8:30 in the evening, with the exception of an hour-and-a-half lesson in taekwondo a few times a week or the occasional playdate. We don’t have family close by to watch the kids for the weekend, and we live in Asia where life is just, well, slower. To say that we have a quantity of family time is an understatement. And yet, and yet, when I ask myself the following question, it still tends to stump me most days,

When is the last time I really played with my kids? And why does that seem so dag-gum hard sometimes?

Because my kids don’t really care if I am super tired, nor are they that interested in the email I feel like I just have to finish in the next five minutes. They aren’t interested in a swept floor or an organized sock drawer or clothes that match perfectly. And they sure as heck don’t give a rip about what’s going on with my highschool friend’s new puppy according to her facebook wall.

I think, maybe mostly, they just want, me.

Fully present. Caring about the things they care about. . .

Be that a Lego car or a stuffed animal hospital or a blanket that got lost again.

Interested in the things that catch their attention . . . 

Be it how many three-pointers-in-a-row are possible from the grass or the invention of a cat elevator– involving a laundry basket, a balcony, 2 dog leashes and a broken jump rope.

The cat’s gotta get downstairs somehow, after all.


The lovely etsy shop, VinylArtStudio is donating $40 to a commenter and follower of aLifeOverseas this week. She creates beautiful stenciled signs that you actually stick on your wall instead of paint on your wall. They are gorgeous and inspiring, and if you are the winner of this giveaway you will have a $40 credit to spend in her store on whatever your heart desires– Bible quotes, kid-room-sayings, even personalized wall-decals. Stop by her shop and view her artwork here. You can get one entry each for the following:

1. Leave a comment telling me when the last time was you played with your kids.
2. Become a new fan on facebook {sidebar}.
3. Subscribe to have posts sent to your inbox {below}.
4. SHARE this giveaway via facebook or twitter {mentioning @lauraparkerblog, so I can give you credit}.
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  • Amy Stewart

    LL- I seem to remember a very serious sword battle that good Ol’ Pete stole away from you….I mean how could you lose when your opening move is a forward roll up to fighting stance? Even Jackie Chan would have been impressed. Totally rigged…I would demand a re-match. I LOVE how you play with your kids ALL the time! Love you!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      I know, right? I think I might just call him to the mat this afternoon, now that you mention it. And NO mercy this time. . . .

      love back at you,

  • http://medievalcottagereflections.blogspot.com Michelle

    Boy did I need to read this today! Thank you for sharing. As my children have gotten older, I am sometimes perplexed about HOW to play with them. When they were little, the sky seemed the limit, but now….it’s a challenge. Especially since I can’t really do sports with them due to physical limitations!

    Will need to work on being a bit more creative, I think:)

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Michelle– um . . . maybe as they get older it’s not PLAYING as much as conversation? Going for coffee, watching movies they like together, etc? Hmmm . . . you bring a great question.

      Anybody have any ideas of the best ways to engage older, adult children?

  • http://bahava.wordpress.com Katy

    While I don’t have kids of my own yet, I am with kids most of my day and I know this is SO true and it is a challenge…I loved it because the other day at work we totally had a dance party where one of the girls was teaching us what she had learned at dance class and I totally loved the moment because it was that easy, fun join in on the fun and truly “play” together yet it’s the other times where I need to stop everything I am doing just to listen fully–put my eyes to theirs and let them know that someone sees them.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Katy– yes, the gift of SEEING them. Love the image of you dancing with your kids at work . . .

  • http://www.angiewashington.com @ngie

    What a lovely give away! Thank you Laura. :)

    I played with my kids as I was making dinner two nights ago. They asked me to sing everything I was doing. WHAT?!?! Okay… After a few moments I could hardly keep my *tune* because we were all laughing so hard. Though, I must add, this playing thing is a humongous challenge for me too.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Oh, my . . .. sing what you were doing? That is awesome. I am totally gonna have to try that.

      I would have liked THAT on video, actually . . ..

      • http://www.angiewashington.com @ngie

        Ooh, would you now? Ha! IF (great big giant huge IF) I would ever film that I would have to allow you to see it in a private screening format. :o)

        • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

          you are really funny just fyi. but, then, again, i guess your kids know that, too.

          i like that about you.

          • http://www.angiewashington.com @ngie

            {blush} 😀

  • http://www.das-leben-der-lundquisten.blogspot.com melissa

    We’re currently in the Seattle area…if you’ve heard anything on the news this week, you’ll know that we’re snowed in. Yesterday morning was awesome as we had full family time – on the floor tickling, wrestling, laughing, just hanging out as a family of four. LOVED it! {we’re still inside today, and the playdough is coming out. I’ve got two little boys with cabin fever}

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Oh, sometimes snow days are the best ones . . .

  • http://facebook Rebekah

    All my kids are grown up now but my 2 girls do occasionally get me to play silly games on the Wii with them:) We end up laughing so hard the playing ends!! I look back and wonder when the “playing” ended:( My four kids are 23, 25, 27 & 29!! Now with an almost 4 yr. old grandson, I get to play again; but it’s different; wonderful, but not the same!!
    So my older and wiser, haha, words to you with young kids; play your hearts now!! Laughter makes some of the best memories ever!! My kids tell me so:))

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Loved this comment, this perspective, this reminder to “play our hearts out”– Such a good, but challenging, thing to do in the midst of it . . .

  • flyinjuju

    I too often feel the same way. I am with these precious children everyday, and yet engaging in play is a challenge and I have to make it a priority. Glad to know I am not alone in this. :)

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Absolutely, not alone.

  • Michelle

    I homeschool too, and with 4 kids, I find this a challenge as I often want some “downtime” when school is over (ie time on the computer :))…Does having a pretend conversation on a pretend phone with my 4 year old count? (as I am typing this, she walked up, told me someone was on the phone and put the phone up to my ear and I talked to them- I wanted to say, “not now”…but this was a timely reminder!!). One thing I did recently that was a lot of fun was a dart gun competition with my 6 year old boy. We had to get them in certain spaces of the window panes on our door for different numbers of points.

    Thanks for the reminder of what is important!!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Michelle– yes, absolutely, pretend phone chats count. For sure.

      And that dart game seemed like a little boy’s dream . .. . . :)

  • Kristen

    I was actually JUST thinking about this issue, too, as we started potty training with Elise this week. It means a lot less going out to run errands or to the park and a lot more sitting at home trying to get her to drink more juice! I find myself bored a lot when we have to stay home, but that’s just because I’m being lazy and not creative enough. So I got out my “Toddler’s Busy Book” this morning, will be hitting up DK Bookstore as soon as I can to stock up on art supplies, and we’ll be doing a lot more activities this week. Hopefully it will be more fun for everyone!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Kristen– oh, potty training– good luck, friend!

      hugs from this part of thailand,

  • http://kendalprivette.blogspot.com kendal

    oh, this is the second blog about really paying attention to our children that i have read this morning. the guilt. the guilt. my husband plays with them so much – they are big boys who like frisbee golf and wiffleball games. like REAL, keep score things….

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Hmmm . . . Kendal, I think you are right in that maybe a mom’s way to “play” with grown-up boys looks different than frisbee golf. Maybe its not the playing as much as the conversation? or . . ..? I have to admit, it does seem easier to play with little ones. Their games aren’t so hard.


  • Jodie Brite

    I would have to say it’s been awhile but thank you for writing this!!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Absolutely . . . have a great weekend, Jodie!

  • courtney orrange

    The last time I played with my kids was a night or two ago when I intentionally instigated a game of Uno with them. I was happy I did it but the reality is that I don’t get down on the floor and silly with them that often. I am better at games, organized type things. Brent is good for silly. BUT I know that I rely on him for that too much and I realize that I miss out on the joy of just playing with my kids. Thanks for the nudge.

  • http://www.stumblingaroundinthelight.com Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight

    On the trampoline; day-before-yesterday. REAlly! Running around on the trampoline with a slew of kiddos, baby on the hip — seriously great exercise, fun with the kiddos, and great way to be ridiculously foolish, so ya’ laugh till it hurts.

    OH! And here’s something to look forward to…
    (sheesh, I didn’t even “count” this in my head – cause it doesn’t feel like “playing with the kids.”)
    We play some kind of board game or word game almost every single night with our older kids!! And it’s totally fun!! As opposed to yawn-inducing episodes of “Woody and Buzz conquer the horse herd and poop on the doll house, heh-heh-heh” with 5 & 7 year old boys.

    Actually playing with the little ones? Really, really challenging. ‘Cause seriously, it’s maddening to dress ‘Baby Annie’ in twelve different outfits…and after a decade, Legos have lost their luster…and when was ‘Candyland’ EVER fun? But – I think the truth of it is – if we can slog thru enough games of ‘Candyland’ to stay connected with our kids, they actually grow up into real humans that are funny & fun & an absolute hilarious joy to play 15 rounds of ‘Dutch Blitz’ with!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      lots of wisdom here, Teri– love the image of you on the trampoline with your plethora of little and big ones! so fun–

      and I agree, candyland gets old really quickly.

  • Allison

    My kids absolutely love when we play together on mine & my husband’s bed. It’s always fun because they are still small enough to play the airplane game (where they lay on your feet & fly high in the air). It is a joy to hear their laughs and cackles as we play together and since the oldest is a boy, the playtime always end in a wrestling match/tickle fight with him and everybody always leaves out of breath and with big smiles.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Love this image of you and your family playing together, Allison . . .. precious.

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