Get Down (on the Floor!) and Play with Your Children


by Heidi Hoff

When was the last time you and your kids rolled around on the floor together laughing yourselves silly? If you're like me, it may have been a while!

Sometimes I get caught up in household chores, give errands a priority or answer the phone when I know I should let it ring, instead of making time for my two daughters. It's not that I don't play with them; just the opposite is true. It simply seems as if I'm trying to fit them into my daily schedule when in fact I should be scheduling my day around them. 

I used to be a planner. I would try to organize activities that I thought my girls would learn something from. I'm now much more free and spontaneous with them and I've discovered that, at their respective ages of four and 20 months, this is the type of play they prefer.
Here are some suggestions on how you can be more spontaneous with your children:

1. Play "Chase Around The House" 
Kids love to be chased, especially if you're making a roaring or growling noise while you're doing it. You'd be surprised how fast their little legs can carry them. This exercise is sure to get your heart rate up and tone your glutes as well!

2. Have a Pillow Fight
Make sure the pillows are small and not too heavy. Throw cushions work best for this activity. Lay a few ground rules, such as not hitting in the face or on the head, and when somebody yells "stop", then stop.

3. How Many Times Can Each of You Hop on One Foot?
Again, a great cardiovascular activity for you and the kids. Alternate feet and vary the directions you're hopping in. This is good for your children's coordination and learning left and right, forwards and backwards.

4. Pretend You're Animals
Play a guessing game of what animal your child is by the sounds she makes and the way she moves. Children love to imitate animals and can do so from a young age.

5. Tickle Each Other
When you've run out of ideas, a good old-fashioned tickle fight is the answer. Again, don't tickle too hard and when someone (possibly you!) yells stop, the tickler must stop. At our house, this game always ends with a kiss!

These activities take little time and benefit you and your children greatly. They are highly interactive, involve a lot of laughter and take no preparation. They also let your children know that you enjoy being with them and that they make great playmates.

About the Author:
Author Heidi Hoff is editor of Preschool Planet. Subscribe and get "100 Things to Make From a Cardboard Box" free! http://www.preschoolplanet.com