You have dozens of items on your to-do list. You feel exhausted after work. Your chores are piling up. But your son or daughter is staring at you with imploring eyes, hoping you will read them a book, share a toy with them, or play a game. You don’t want to say no, but there’s so much to do.
Setting aside time to play with your kids is good for both them and you. You can take a mental break from the burdens of your life as you pretend to defeat dragons in a pillow fort or learn about the butterfly life cycle. These moments are small, but they will have a lasting impact on your children. Check out these 10 benefits of putting off your chores and playing with your kids, even if you only have 20 minutes to spend with them.
1. You Are Their Role Model
Studies have found that parents are some of the most influential role models in their kids’ lives. One study of 1,100 12-18-year-olds found that 67.7% look up to their parents and 40.6% look up to their teachers and coaches. Religious leaders, athletes, and celebrities all failed to reach 20%, proving that kids look closer to home when they form their role models and heroes. By carving out time to be with them, you are showing how powerful parental involvement is, a trait they are sure to emulate in their future families.
Today’s kids are drawn to the TV, video games, and their smartphones. After a day spent sitting at school, they continue to sit inside when they get home. WebMD found that 74% of kids ages 5-10 don’t get enough exercise, following the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day. However, only 15% of parents said physical activity is a priority for their kids, despite that almost 19% of American kids are obese.
By getting up and playing a game or turning on some music to dance to, you can pull your kids away from the screen and get them moving. This benefits your health too while teaching them good habits that they can carry into adulthood.
3. More Kids Than Ever Are Addicted to Technology
Speaking of screen time, more kids are developing addictions to technology that extend beyond healthy hobbies. Almost half of all teens believe they are addicted to their phones and would struggle to give them up. Additionally, 72% of teens say they get distracted by their phones and don’t pay attention when they’re trying to talk.
While you can certainly bond with your kids over Fortnite or other popular video games, you can also use this time to put technology down and focus on play.
When you play with your kids and start joking and laughing, both of you will release endorphins, known as the feel-good hormones. Endorphins reduce pain in your body and promote a sense of well-being. You will start to relax and so will your kids. If you had a long day at work and they had a busy day at school, a little time set aside for play can wash away your troubles, or at least make them seem more bearable.
5. You Can Learn More About Their Lives
Do you worry about the new friends that your teen hangs out with? Do you want to know what your child is learning in school and what subjects they like? The best way to learn more about your kids is to play with them. Spend some time with a fun activity and then ask them a few questions. Or better yet, let them open up. You might be surprised by what your kids tell you.
6. You Can Teach Them Good Habits
There are several life lessons that kids can learn and develop when you play with them. You can teach them that it’s okay to lose and show them how to handle their victories with grace. You can show them how to control their emotions and not get frustrated when facing a challenge or falling behind. Overall, your kids will develop greater impulse control and emotion regulation, two skills that can help them throughout life.
Playing helps build connections with neurons in the brain to make kids better at developing plans and solving problems. Getting outside helps kids connect with nature, while playing “make believe” or doing an art project can spur creativity and grow your child’s imagination. You don’t know the path your child will take as they get older, but you can prepare them for anything with a little playtime each day.
8. Physical Activity Helps Kids Sleep Better
According to the National Sleep Foundation, people who have at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each week sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day. This is great for you and important for your kids. A good night’s sleep can help them stay focused in school so they learn more and absorb the material.
When you play with your kids, you build strong bonds with them that will help you during turbulent times. Your kids or teens will learn to trust you and feel comfortable turning to you for help. These bonds can last a lifetime, but they are particularly important to have during middle and high school years, where peer pressure, hormonal insecurities and academic challenges make many kids want to shut down.
10. Florida’s Weather Makes It Easy
In our area, we don’t have the snowy winters that plague the northeast. While you can’t schedule snowball fights or build a snowman with your kids, there are plenty of ways to get outside and play throughout the year. Long summer days mean you can get outside when it’s still light outside and get back before it gets dark. Simply walking down to the park to play catch or running around the backyard can turn into a fun way for the family to connect and relax after a long day.
We know that you can’t always spend the afternoon with your kids to get them playing and moving. This is why Family Resources developed two after-school programs for kids and teens. Check our out locations in South St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park so your kids can learn games, crafts, and songs to share with you once the family comes back together.