An Hour of Imaginative Play a Day – A Blessing or Curse?

Recently, a public relations executive for an unnamed organization said that parents should “engage in imaginative play with their children for at least an hour every day.”

At first glance, this parent wonders when everyone will stop telling me what I should and should not do with my child.  Full disclosure, I am still not over the whole “breastfeed for a year even if it is completely impractical to pump at work, and manage a house and family issues as a single mom” recommendation, so maybe I am a tad bit sensitive with all of the “shoulds” that are thrown at parents.

And maybe I bristled a bit too because I don’t have a great imagination of my own.

Or perhaps its because an hour is an increment of time that I need more of to work and run my house, not an increment of time I can lose to something like play with my daughter.

Or…maybe I am just being silly and not using my own underdeveloped imagination to figure out a way to make more time for playtime with my 2-year-old daughter, because when I actually close the laptop, put down the smart phone, and sit down for a tea party – I am reminded of how much I love being a Mom.

But it isn’t all about what I like or don’t like.  Experts now realize that enhancing a child’s strong imagination, can help lay the foundation for everything from understanding the difference between reality and fantasy, to being able to process and understand other people’s perspectives as an adult.

I tend to take a more literal approach. When I tell her, “Well, Reagan doesn’t like it when you play with her hair, so let’s leave her hair alone please,” she may be more willing to accept that an adult Reagan might not want to go to that restaurant, and that she needs to respect that without throwing a fit.

But what I have found in the 2-and-half years since I became a mom is that success lies in balance, and doing what is right for you and your family.  For me, that means that just because an hour of imaginative play a day is somewhat (okay, fine, really impractical) for my family, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t engage at all. For me, it means that if I have 20 minutes of time free, I should think about initiating a tea party with my daughter, instead of initiating scrubbing the toilet or the bathtub.

Not only am I helping her in her development, I am giving myself permission to enjoy the fun parts of parenting a little more.