As a working Mum I’m always feeling guilty about something – not spending enough time with Big Sis, or keeping the flat ‘show-home tidy’, not working or blogging enough, or calling my family back home as often as I should. But that’s modern life I suppose – I’m a jack of all trades, and master of none.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised to hear that a recent survey, carried out by the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) and Play England, revealed the average child plays just one hour a day. Parents would like to see this doubled – at the very least. And nearly half of 2000 parents surveyed wanted to spend more time playing with their kids.
As busy as I am, I still feel really lucky to be able to spend every day with my daughter – even if I’m sometimes distracted by work. My partner works long hours, and barely gets to see her during the week. I feel really bad for him every Sunday night, as he really pines for her the next day.
I just love seeing the two of them together – even though it usually means I instantly get ditched in favour of Daddy! She won’t let him out of her sight, and gets panicked if he so much as goes out the front door. On Sunday morning she climbs into our bed, lies between us, and beams with the pure joy of having both of us there to lavish attention on her.
These days my baby bump is really slowing me down, so the two of them have started a new Sunday tradition where they both head off to the local soft play to give me a break for an hour or two. Big Sis comes back exhilarated, while Daddy comes back an exhausted wreck. It seems our little girl is quite the daredevil, climbing up frames and throwing herself down the big-kid slides without a trace of fear – giving him a coronary in the process.
As it turns out, all their mucking about isn’t just great fun, it’s good for Big Sis too! ‘Play helps a child to develop a whole range of skills,’ says psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer, ‘from learning how to take turns and share, to increasing fitness, creativity and even self-esteem.’
Which is why the BTHA has teamed up again with Play England to encourage parents to put aside more of their children’s day for some good, old-fashioned play time. They’re asking parents to ‘Make A Pledge’, and allocate anything from an extra 5 minutes to 3 hours a day on: www.facebook.com/maketimetoplay. They hope to get the UK to collectively pledge 2 million extra play minutes over the next three months.
Parents can also visit www.maketime2play.co.uk for play ideas and inspiration. So why are you still reading this? Hurry up get playing!!