The Best Dads Never Grow Up: Why I Play with My Kids
Bundle up! It’s only 19 degrees outside, but we are going outside to play anyway. The ground is covered with a fresh coat of white snow. These 4 kids are eager to test the hill in our backyard. It’s a thin layer, but it might just be enough for sledding. Yes, that’s right 4 kids. This Dad might be 36, but I am still a kid at heart. I cannot wait to go out in the snow and play with my kids. I’m like Peter Pan, but that’s okay. The best Dad’s are the ones that never grow up!
The Best Dads Never Grow Up: Why I Play with My Kids
I like to think that most of us Dads love playing with our kids. The way their eyes light up and the huge smiles on their faces fill our hearts with pure joy. Some of my earliest memories are of me jumping on my Dad and wrestling him on the living room floor. We make the time to play because we know our kids love playing with their Dad. Playtime is not just an excuse to let go of distractions and act like a kid again. It serves a very important purpose. Play is an essential tool for parents. It helps us build strong relationships with our kids.
Making Time to Play With My Kids
Whenever I take the time to play with my kids, I am doing more than just having fun and letting my inner child loose. I am being a good Dad. This is a time when I say to my kids, you are a priority to me, and I am focused on you right now. I will even write down “play with Gavin” on my To Do list for the day. That way he can see, Dad’s making a point to play with me today.
It’s not always easy to find that time to play with my kids. One of my goals for the New Year is to spend quality time with each one of them. Quality time means being completely present with them and not allowing myself to worry about the pile of dishes in the sink or what’s next on the to do list. The best way to connect and keep my mind focused on them is to find something that I enjoy doing with them.
Make Sure It’s Fun for Everyone.
With Gavin it’s easy to find a spare 15 minutes to play a quick PlayStation game or a round of Clue. Kaitlyn is also easy to please. She just loves helping Daddy make yogurt or Kombucha. She’s so stinking cute that even the simple task of grinding up coffee beans is fun for us both. I’m able to cross things off my list while giving her my full attention as well. Win-Win!
Finding Ways to Connect with My Son with Autism
On the other hand, Ethan isn’t so simple. Finding ways to connect with kids with autism can be difficult. Ethan’s generally content with a movie and his iPad, and he doesn’t like to stray too much from that. He does like to show off his iPad skills, and he likes it when people sit and watch his videos with him.
However, I don’t really like doing that. When I am snuggling up with him on our beanbag chair watching Bounce Patrol, I am not focused on him. I’m thinking things like man that guy is really annoying, or I wonder how much money they make from these videos, or hey that’s the same costume she had on in the Halloween video. I am far from connected to my son. My mind is too busy wondering all over the place because I am not enjoying that time.
All Boys Love to Roughhouse
I have found ways to connect and have fun with Ethan though. He just loves to roughhouse. I tickle him, spin him round and round and round or just put on some music and sing and dance with him. Playing with Ethan is WAY MORE exhausting than playing with his siblings, but it is so worth the extra energy.
Ethan’s favorite thing to do is get a piggyback ride from his Dad. Not just any piggyback ride will do. He wants a fun, fast-paced ride. He just giggles and smiles so big when I am running around the house with him on my back. Every time, I put him down after a lap around the house he tries to climb back up and says Daddy run. His beautiful smile just fuels me to do another lap and another and another until I collapse of sheer exhaustion. That’s when he grabs his iPad and collapses on top of me with that great big smile still beaming. Now, I am present with him. Now, We are connected!
There are so many others ways that I could play with my kids, but these are the ones I enjoy most. The way I play is different from the way Mom plays, but we all cherish that playtime. It is so important to have fun and truly enjoy playing with your kids whatever way that may be. When parents have fun with their kids, it connects us. I can tell them how much I love them and how great they are all day long. But when I take that time out to play with my kids, it really shows them and they can feel that love.
Together is Our Favorite Place to Be
We have the best time when we all play together. When Dad is full of energy and is just acting like a big buffoon, it is the most fun. It’s the reason why another of my 2017 goals is to get in shape. Whether it be out at a trampoline park or in the backyard running through the sprinkler, the 4 of us kids have the best time when I am just a big giant ape bouncing around and chasing the kids all over.
For instance, this past summer, we were all in the yard playing in the sprinkler and having a blast. The water made the ground very muddy, so I covered myself in mud and chased them all over the yard. It was great. They all ran away with huge smiles on their faces. Their smiles got a little bit bigger when I started chasing mom around too.
Snow Day Fun or Snow Day Fail?
The snow didn’t just bring the potential for sledding. It brought with it that rare opportunity for the 4 of us kids to all have fun and play together. But, will we be able to play? Last time it snowed, Kaitlyn got too cold and cried and cried and cried. Ethan hasn’t been wearing a jacket or pants for that matter. Will this opportunity to play together be lost? Is it worth the effort, the extra laundry, the puddles of melted snow on the floor, the potential epic fail???
Preparing for Fun. Will they Bundle Up?
Taking Gavin’s lead, we decide to go for it. I’m already bundled & layered. Now, it’s Kaitlyn’s turn. Will she keep her mittens on this time? Of course she will because Dad put them on before her giant winter coat. She is set with mittens and 3 pairs of pants to keep her bottom half warm.
Meanwhile, Ethan is watching us all get ready. He’s intrigued, but I’m still not sure if he’ll get dressed enough to go out with us. Then, Gavin brings in the sleds from the garage, and Ethan’s face lights up. I say to him you wanna go play outside with us? SLIDE, SLIDE, SLIDE, SLIDE! I take that as a yes.
I grab his coat that he has yet to wear this winter and a pair of pants. Keep in mind he hasn’t worn long pants in 2 months. He puts his pants on over his shorts and quickly takes them off shouting no, no, no. Not to be discouraged, I say let’s try again Maybe we try without the shorts this time. He complies and puts on his socks & shoes. Boom! Step 1. Check. Now, it’s time for the coat. He’s not resisting. He’s eager. He lets me zip it up. He’s keeping it on. YES! Victory!
Time to Play with my Kids in the Snow
We all get outside, and everyone is happy. Gavin and Kaitlyn are first to test the hill. It’s Katie’s first time sledding, so I am at in the middle of the hill capturing the action on video for Mom to see when she gets home from work. After they went, it was Dad’s turn. I grabbed a sled and slid down face first nearly bowling them over.
Ethan is standing on the sidelines watching. Well, that won’t do. I run over to him and say let’s go dude. He resists at first, but remembering how much fun he’s had in the past I insisted. I led him up the hill and sent him sliding back down. It took a couple of tries, but he eventually gave us a smile and a couple giggles.
Despite the subfreezing temps, we played together outside for nearly an hour. We all had so much fun playing. Kaitlyn and Ethan did more watching than playing, but we were all together, happy, and connected. So, was it worth the effort, the subsequent puddles in the kitchen, the extra laundry, and the potential fail? You bet it was!!!