Thursday, January 29, 2009

Play is a child's work

Two things you should know about me: I LOVE a clean floor and I am a firm believer that play is incredibly important to the healthy development of a child's brain. So it occurred to me yesterday that these two things haven't meshed very well in our house and I have had to ease up on my clean floor fixation for the sake of my children's well-being. Ann-Marie is our child who is at the height of imaginative play right now. I remember when Evan was five and we had dinosaurs all over the house. Ann-Marie's preferred toys are Littlest Pet Shop, My Little Pony, and Kitty/Puppy/Horsie in my pockets. She is not a doll girl, although she has some; she is all about her animals. So I went around the house yesterday capturing her long-term play. My compromise to clean floors? I ask her to clean up about once a week so I can least I know the floor is clean underneath the constant play going on. The picture above is taken in our home office which is located in our basement. Her horse and animal pocket toys are having some sort of town meeting there.
Above and below are pictures of her bedroom floor. Another meeting of the minds is happening among her Littlest Pet Shop pets (we counted 36 of them this weekend, so it is quite a meeting!) Below is her pony castle and the ponies are having a party, of course. I think the ponies are napping....parties are hard work!
I always seem to have some sort of eyes on me....I feel like I'm being watched at all times. My reason is below....Ann-Marie has spies throughout the house making sure Mommy is behaving herself (i.e. not getting into her treat bag!)
Here are my thoughts, you can take them or leave them. Play is a child's work. Early school-age children especially need long-term play (meaning sometimes days on end) to work out some of their more complex and creative thoughts. I have had to let go of many of my demands for a clean and clutter free house to allow my children to develop their own creativity and unique personalities. I'm still working on it. There are days where it drives me crazy, but I try to think about 10 years in the future when the little toys will be boxed away with their childhoods. So in the meantime, I am tiptoeing around the play and encouraging long periods of creative play and I encourage all parents of young children to do the same.

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