Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Hello, lovely carnival participants. As it happens, today is the day on which I finally head home on the last leg of my grand journey, so I will be in a car driving for many many hours. In case you don’t hear from me for a couple of days (likely), Welcome!
I don’t have much to say about discipline, or how to use play instead of consequences or any of those things. All I can tell you is that I just spent seven weeks in a car with two of my children, and it was grand. We stayed up until dark, played by lakes in the moonlight, ate marshmallows by campfires, lived on peanut butter sandwiches for days at a time, broke all the rules, and had a brilliant summer. It was the most fun I’ve had since I started this parenting journey almost exactly 12 years ago.
I’m a very earnest sort. I spend
a lot most of my time trapped in my head. Playing is work for me. By that, I don’t mean that I equate work and play. I mean that to play… to stop teaching, and educating, and considering and pondering… to play requires enormous effort, thus defeating the point. If you point me at a game with clearly defined rules, I might be able to get into it. But for years I have gotten down on the floor with my children, trying to figure out what this playing thing is about anyway… knowing, as I do, that play is the essential thing that allows learning. Free play. Nature of the prolonged childhood of the human animal. Developmental necessity thereof. (I assume that there will be plenty of posts about the benefits of play. Please do read them. I’m sure I will.) But I find myself down there, on the floor, and I notice how messy the room is, and I think, “I’ll just pick up a few of these things then.” And the kids tell me I’m doing it wrong, and I get upset because I can’t figure out the rules, and they won’t accept any of my offers, and they tell me, “No, you have to be the giraffe, and she’s coming to rescue the zebra from the lions.” And I say something, and they say, “No, that’s not the voice the giraffe would use.” And then the giraffe gets grumpy, and the mama wanders away, feeling like a complete fraud: Bad mother who can’t play with her own kids.
It was all different this summer. I think it started on the second night of the “real” (camping) trip, after we had left my parents’ house. We set up the tent, and it was dusk, and the kids asked to go swimming. First I said, “No, but we can play on the beach.” And then I said we could play in the water. And then I said we could go in, but I planned on just wading and watching them from the edge. And then, when we had put on our bathing suits, and the water was spectacularly warm, and the light was beautiful, and everybody else was having such a good time, I dove in. We got our hair wet even though we were about to go to bed. We splashed about and swam and dived until the mosquitoes chased us away. We laughed at the fireflies in the fairy grove between the beach and the car. And something changed in my heart, I think. I wasn’t just taking my children on this trip. I was going with them.
We declared our digs palatial (on account of the air mattresses).
We took time to smell the roses:
And look at frogs and snakes and sunsets:
We climbed trees:
And danced in the spray from giant waterfalls:
We checked out playgrounds in many, many provinces.
We climbed things, and hiked places, and found many many many bugs. Did you know that the larvae of the caddis fly hide in sticks like hermit crabs do in shells? I didn’t either, until my son handed me one. (I didn’t believe him until he made me wait for it to come out and start swimming in the puddle in my hand.)
And somewhere along the line, among all the explorations and mysteries, I found this woman inside me:
Which is the best argument I can come up with.
(Thanks to my friend Dave, who took this picture in Cathedral Grove, MacMillan Provincial Park. Did I mention the trees?)
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon September 13 with all the carnival links.)
- On being a more playful parent — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares how the Playful Parenting book impacted her.
- Parenting a toddler through play — Alicia at I Found My Feet lists some examples of how she uses play to parent through everyday tasks and challenges.
- Splashing in Puddles — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how she learned to get dirty and have fun with her little boy.
- Say Please — Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life explains how they taught their son manners by “play,” showing that actions speak louder than words.
- No Nanny Needed — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life wishes parenting through play was her only responsibility during the day.
- I’ll Run Away With Gypsies — Nikalee at Spotted Pandemonium maneuvers physical and emotional obstacles while spinning playful tales, jumping through hoops, and inspiring the kids to clean the living room.
- A Promise To My Daughter — Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure writes a poem for her daughter promising to use play instead of anger when facing difficult situations.
- Parenting Through Play — Not Always Easy But Always Rewarding — Amy at Peace4Parents discusses how play hasn’t always come easily to her, the power of appreciative observation, and how her family learns together through play.
- Imagination Plays a Role in Our Parenting — Tree at Mom Grooves shares how parents can use play to set the foundation for communication and understanding.
- A Box of Crayons — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction talks about how a simple box of crayons has become a wonderful parenting and teaching tool.
- The Essential Art of Play — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her favorite lessons available for young ones through play.
- The Art of Distraction — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares a list of distracting alternatives to harsh punishments in tough parenting situations.
- Grace and Courtesy Games at Home or School — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now has ideas for grace and courtesy games that help you encourage courteous behavior without reprimanding your child.
- I am woman, hear me roar! — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares how one simple sound can diffuse an argument in an instant.
- Getting Cooperation Through Play — Amyables at Toddler In Tow talks about respecting the worldview of a preschooler by using play to encourage connection and cooperation.
- Playful Parenting = Extra Energy?? — Momma Jorje didn’t think she had the energy for playful parenting. See what she was surprised to learn…
- Dance Party Parenting — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen learned how to be the parent her children need through play.
- Wrestling Saved My Life — Wrestling is as vital to her son’s well-being as babywearing once was, finds Hannah at Wild Parenting.
- Parenting through play — By playing with her children, Tara from MUMmedia is given amazing opportunites to teach, train and equip her children for life.
- Parenting Through Play Starts in Infancy — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Issa from LoveLiveGrow shares that though she only has a 3-month-old, playful parenting has already started.
- Play Before Sleep — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how playing and singing with her son before he falls asleep helps calm her frustrations that tend to arise at night.
- Playful Parenting — Or 5 Lessons My Son Has Taught Me About Parenting Through Play — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama has learned to be a better parent by following her toddler’s lead in play.
- Hurry up! Hurry up! I mean it! Quack, quack, quack! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life leads a trail of ducklings
- On the Road: Learning to Play — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers her inner adult through a summer of playing with her children.
- Preventing Tantrums Through Play — Gaby at Tmuffin explains how she keeps her household happy by not taking things too seriously.
- Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play — Lily, aka Witch Mom, redirects unwanted behavior in a toddler using games and play.
- Exaggerating for effect — Lauren at Hobo Mama has learned how to ham it up.
- Handling Big Emotions with Role Playing — Zoie at TouchstoneZ plays at tempering her parental frustrations while helping her children handle some big emotions
- How To Herd Toddlers by Talking Pictorially — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama demonstrates how talking in pictures is a playful way to engage your young child in transitioning from one activity to the next.
- Getting a Toddler to Go Where You Want…Playfully — Sylvia at MaMammalia describes how a game of hide-and-seek can be used to steer a wandering toddler in the direction of her choosing.
- Playful Parenting: Chores That Do Themselves — Remember chores when you were a kid? If chores were this fun for Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey, she wouldn’t have needed any reminders!
- Clown School Express: Playing away Fears — MudpieMama describes how she helped her boys confront their fears about starting kindergarten by playing with trains.
- Practicing Playful Parenting — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle realizes that playfulness is the best way through the day and seeks more ways to practice it.
- Today, Tomorrow and Every Day — Starr at Taking Time addresses her children in a letter sharing with them how improtant it is that they spend their childhood playing.
- Learning Through Immersion — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares how she helps her daughter develop naturally without focusing on teaching, but rather by immersing her in their family’s way of life and making her an active part of her environment.
- Play Here Now — Jessica at Instead of Institutions learns and relearns and tries to remember the value of play.
- Play: A Wonderful Parenting Tool — Mamapoekie from Authentic Parenting offers a list of examples on how to use play in real-life parenting situations.
- Playful Parenting — a Book Review — Erica at ChildOrganics shares simple yet sage advice from Dr. Cohen on how play can change your child’s life.
- Mock Threats: Turning Real Frustration into Playful Parenting — Threatening is not an effective discipline strategy, but Dionna at Code Name: Mama explains how parents can turn their frustration into playful moments by making “mock threats.”
- I’m Sick of Yelling — I Want to Play — Alicia at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts realizes she needs to change the way she’s parenting and is forming a new plan.
- Sing-along, Brush-along Songs — Shana at Tales of Minor Interest shares a few songs to make brushing her three-year-old’s teeth more fun.
- Monster Voice — Ever have those frustrating moments with your kid(s) when you just want to scream? Amy at Anktangle shares a silly strategy for getting through those difficult times.