How Playing With Your Child Can Reduce Lockdown Stressby Dr. Amanda Gummer
Has it really been a whole year since Covid-19 reached our doorsteps? I think it’s been an unusual and stressful time for many of us. But there is a magical something that has helped families feel happier, even during all of this.
Playing has been an antidote to lockdown for lots of us. Children do it naturally but we adults can sometimes struggle to find our playful sides. I know there’s been a real mix of experiences during the pandemic. Some of you have been juggling working from home, household chores, and childcare - so it’s been a struggle to find any time to relax!
Others have actually had the opportunity to play with their children more. Perhaps it’s the extra couple of hours you’re no longer having to commute, or the fact that the house doesn’t need to be as clean these days, given that we won’t be getting any surprise visitors.
Those who have played with their children more have said how good it’s made them feel. They’ve had the chance to take a break, enjoy the simple things in life, and become closer as a family.
So the big question really, is how do we squeeze those wonderful moments of play into busy lifestyles? Here are three tips to get you started.
1. Choose toys with variety
Babies and toddlers are so excited by the world that they struggle to focus on one thing for very long. Toys with lots of different features to explore help hold their attention, so you can avoid having to empty the entire toy box out on the floor to keep them entertained! So that’s less thing to tidy up at least.
For an all-in-one option, the Ambi Toys Activity Case (6-24 mths, RRP £18.99) has six different items for your child to play with, including a spinning wheel with high contrast colours and a ringing bell, giving him or her lots of sensory stimulation.
I also recommend the Toomies Hide and Squeak 2-in-1 Eggventure Train (18-36 mths, RRP £19.99). Based on the popular Hide and Squeak eggs, this set can be turned into a train or a Ferris wheel. So whether your tot wants to sort and squeeze the brightly coloured eggs, or push them around the room on the train, there’s plenty of choice.
2. Play games that let you take turns
A big part of playing is social interaction and at this age, you are your child’s main playmate. It’s good to get your partner or older siblings involved as well, so the whole family can have a bit of fun together.
For instance, you could build a puzzle together, putting one piece down each at a time. Children of this age are still learning to take turns, so while it is an important skill to support, remember that they may not always wait for their go!
The Galt Feely Farm Puzzle (12-24 mths, RRP £14.99) is a quick and simple puzzle to try this with. You can also encourage your baby to touch and feel the different textures, or make the animal sounds, to make it more interactive and encourage learning.
Galt’s See-Saw Counter (12-24 mths, RRP £16.99) would also be a good toy to play with together, as you can take turns adding and moving the wooden beads to see how the see-saw moves and talk about the different colours.
3. Play together during bath time
Playtime doesn’t have to be a chunk of time we set aside, it can be sprinkled throughout the day to make daily routines more playful. Bath time is a good opportunity for this as you will be one-to-one with your baby or toddler already, plus it’s a great distraction from the water if he or she isn’t too keen on it.
Little ones often love water play and toys like the Galt Duck Family (12-24 mths, RRP £12.99) are perfect for floating, scooping, and pouring, as well as pretend play as your child gets older.
Rubber animals are fun for your youngster to splash around with too! The Tiger Bath and Teething Toy (0-18 mths, RRP £8.99) from baby and toddler swimming club Water Babies are also perfect for chewing on. It has no air holes which means that water doesn’t get inside the toy, so you can avoid the dreaded mould that grows inside some bath toys.
It can be tricky to fit play into a busy day, but it’s well worth the effort. Not only does it support your child’s learning and development, but it also gives you a break from everything else and gives you a chance to just have fun while connecting with your little one.