Never underestimate the importance of play—whether you’re 9 months, 9 or 90! For even the youngest kids, play is a way of figuring out the world around them, how to creatively solve problems, how to interact with others. As we get older, play is still vital to our mental health and overall wellbeing. You’re never too old to put some play in your day!
Get back to basics. Chances are if the toy or game you loved as a child is still around, then it’s still worth playing. Introduce your kids to some old-fashioned low-tech fun.
Plan to play “in.” Dig out the board games and add a few new ones to your collection. Resurrect Family Game Night and rediscover how much fun it is to spend time together.
Keep it open ended. Stay away from toys that can only be played one way or have predictable outcomes. Kids should tell the toy what to do, not the other way around.
It’s all in the cards. Card games are easy to transport, fun to play, and affordable—usually $10 or less for fun you can enjoy on the run and time and time again.
Look for what lasts. Before you check out at the counter, look at what you’re buying. Will it withstand enthusiastic play? Is it durable and safe? How will it hold up for the long haul?
Read all about it. Nothing beats snuggling up with a good book. Once you’ve finished, pass it on to a friend—or organize a book swap in your neighborhood.
Beware the “add-on.” That discounted toy might be inexpensive—but if it takes six C batteries (not included, of course) to rev up all the bells and whistles, is it really a deal?
Go for the green. Choose toys that are small on packaging and big on play value. Trade games with friends…or try creating your own game using ‘found’ materials!
Keep ’em talking. Look for games that stimulate conversation and keep kids verbally engaged. Rolling the dice and moving around a board is only fun for so long. Conversation “changes up” the game and makes play more interesting.
Buy something buildable. Research shows that playing with blocks, puzzles, and other construction toys helps build 3-D math reasoning, spatial, and problem-solving skills.
Give back. No matter how bad you think your situation is, someone out there has more worries than you. If you have a safe place to sleep and food on your table, you’re a step ahead of many in our community. Here are a few local agencies that need your family’s help this holiday season:
Blessings in a Backpack, Frederick Maryland, SHIP of Frederick County, Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership, The ARC of Frederick County, Maryland, and Project Alive/Housing Authority of the city of Frederick