Work and play certainly go together! The sooner this life lesson sticks – the better (and I’m referring to my kids!). Camping, fishing, beach-going, hiking, and even a trip to the park involves a certain amount of work to make it happen. We talk a lot about playing outside as family – and I’d like bring some attention to working together as a family.
We recently did some chopping and pruning in the yard – as a family. We’re not the typical “Dad does the yard-work”-family (although there’s nothing wrong with that arrangement!! Did you hear that, honey?! ;)). Usually when we do work in the yard, the kids play around us or watch through the windows. This time, however, we worked as a team. After Daddy tamed the wild things (the trees, not the kids!) with his clippers – the kids helped haul the branches. We talked it up beforehand, encouraging each member of the family to be a part of the family team. They were very receptive to our discussion about teamwork and each one playing a role to get the job done. Each child had a job to complete and we were there to help (and remind!).
Yard work is a good place to start talking about the importance of work because the kids can quickly see the fruits of their labor. And it helps that a cleared yard means more room for play and more spaces for hide-and-seek. The overall lesson, however, is much more valuable: teamwork. As a family, we are a team. When we put our minds & our actions together we can accomplish great things!
What about the FUN?! They really did have fun! With the right mindset, there is plenty of fun to be enjoyed. When the kids take ownership of a job well-done they feel proud. That proud feeling of accomplishment is more than fun, it’s confidence-building. We all like feeling important, right? When a child feels important – that their role is essential to the team – they will thrive as a team-member!
When the work is related to a fun activity, the significance is super easy to teach to our kids. For example, we “camped” in our backyard over the weekend and everyone had a “job” for preparing for the campout: carrying out supplies, holding the poles, and guarding the stakes! Cleaning up the campground, picnic table, beach spot, or car after we enjoyed an adventure are other great opportunities for teaching kids that work and play go side by side. (I guess I need to hold myself accountable first – particularly with the cleaning out the car example!)
A Few Tips to Incorporate Work & Play as family:
– Give everyone a job or even a “job”: Make one up if you have to! While we were setting up our tent during our backyard campout, one of the kids started to act out (normal sibling rivalry type acting out). Right away we told the-child-who-shall-not-be-named that we really needed her help holding up the directions so we’d be sure to set up the tent properly.
– Maintain realistic expectations: Know thyself – and know thy-kids. Sometimes when we ask for help, we are really taking on the bigger task of encouraging the kids to follow-through and complete their job. Make sure the jobs you assign are realistic, or that you are willing to support the child through their challenges. I get it – it’s not always a piece of cake and beautiful flowers on the other side.
– Talk about the “play”: We need reminders of why we do the hard stuff too! Lighten up the load by sharing your enthusiasm for the goal at hand – going to the park, on the camping trip, to the soccer game, etc.
What are your tips for helping kids understand the link between fun and responsibility/work and play? Do tell!
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