How to Unwind with Kids and Avoid (*insert least favorite kid cartoon series*) Endless Re-runs March 09 2017, 0 Comments

On Monday of this week, the Minnesota Children’s Museum gathered together a group of like-minded play enthusiasts – professors, librarians, bloggers, influencers and moms who all share a passion for injecting more play into our everyday.  We also had an opportunity to preview the upcoming exhibits/construction for the new museum which is going to be a blast (more info down below)!  

Playing with Minnesota Children's Museum

Most participants in the room were in agreement re: the profound benefits of play – it’s a continuous struggle of HOW to squeeze more of it into our days.  We’re tired, our kids are over-scheduled, there’s so much home-work and pressure to get-ahead – and the benefits of play don’t always seem as immediate as mastering words on a spelling test.  A big takeaway from this seminar was that we absolutely need each other - to help ensure play is always top of mind, and to share what’s working (and what doesn't work so well) for our own families with regards to play.    

Playing and Learning with the Minnesota Children's Museum

And so in this spirit – I wanted to share some tips that I’ve found helpful in my own #playmoremn journey: 

  • One of the major changes I’ve made is to view “play” not as another “to-do,” but as relaxing and a sweet treat for the entire family (e.g. I don't always need to pretend play the myriad of characters from Thomas and Friends). I try to engage my kids in play activities that we ALL find enjoyable – otherwise, it’s easy to default to the TV. 
  • Book Nook: I borrowed this idea from my son’s read-in at school which sounded heavenly (pillows, flashlights, snacks and books for an entire day)!  Sometimes I put blankets over our couch and create a make-shift book-nook.  The kids find the fort delightful and quickly stock-pile it with books, and I’m able to get some reading time in as well.  Perfect for those after dinner "what do we do before bedtime" moments.
  • Tub of Old Toys: I know some parents rotate toys out each month – this requires a level of organization and planning that I don’t possess.  Instead, I pull out toys in the morning (for that same evening) that haven’t been played with for an extended time and viola – the kids have a blast AND I can relax. I enjoy simply observing the kids at play (and working to negotiate with one another) vs. always being an active participant.   
  • Get Moving: This takes some motivation, but once we are moving, it’s worth it.  This is why I love dance and movement games (Hullabaloo and Musical Chairs are good ones) as it’s easy – the kids burn off energy and I find it gives me another much needed burst of energy before bed-time. 
  • Early Bed Time: This is my absolute favorite.  Getting the kids dressed and ready for bed before 7PM is hugely satisfying (the hard stuff like brushing teeth and baths is out of the way). We than all snuggle up in bed reading books or just being silly (flashlights are awesome for bed-time reading). If they fall asleep – bonus! 

I’m trying to make little changes each day – and thanks to this group of Play Enthusiasts and the support of the Minnesota Children's Museum– I have a community to help make this more my reality each day!

...And as I promised in the beginning of this post, expect to be blown away by the new museum – a carpet skateboard park, laser maze, pool noodle forest, stop motion gallery, a fire station and 2 story post-office (even better than the real thing) and amazing outdoor areas – can’t wait for June!

Minnesota Children's Museum under construction

Photo Credit: Minnesota Children's Museum

Minnesota Children's Museum under construction

 Photo Credit: Minnesota Children's Museum

Minnesota Children's Museum

Photo Credit: Minnesota Children's Museum