I've been thinking about play a lot today (must because tomorrow is tax return deadline day and I miss being a child!) According to several studies released in recent years our country has some of the unhappiest children in the world. This is despite the fact that many of us count ourselves as very privileged and are able to provide the material things that our children need for their development (food, shelter etc.) With more and more of children's time spent in front of screens of one type or another, less time spent outside (usually due to perceived higher levels of danger) and super time-poor, tired parents our children are craving play. To me, and I believe to them, providing good quality play opportunities is as important as swapping junk food for healthy choices.
"But I don't have time!" I hear you cry and "I can't play in the way they want me to." Trust me, I hear you and I have heard myself say it too. Sometimes, providing the creative stimulation is all you need to do. Children are inquisitive by nature so sometimes you don't need an eye patch and stuffed parrot to play pirates, all you need is a laundry basket, a broom handle and a sheet for a sail.
I don't want you to think I'm being preachy. I've been there, totally sick of having to pretend to be Mr Mcgregor and call them Peter and Benjamin in order to get them to do anything but then wouldn't we rather that and foster their amazing creativity than shut it down. After all, when tricky times happen (they always do, that's life) children with well developed imagination muscles can turn to play to help their levels of resilience. Puppets, small world play... these things can all become tools to help our developing young people when things are difficult. Each day is an adventure into the unknown for all of us so if we see adventures as something we want to experience and not hide away from it can be a more pleasant journey for us all.