My background is in early childhood development and most of my teaching experience has been using creative curriculum and other play based curriculums. I am in the trenches of toddlerhood so my paradigm is mainly play based for young children. I mentioned in my earlier post about my love for Magformers because I enjoy playing with them. As mothers, if we can find a way to approach play with common ground between ourselves and our children I truly believe play will be more meaningful and motherhood will be more joyful.
I have been fortunate enough to create new friendships with three moms who are passionate about play and toys. Please read this with an intent to be inspired, not to be told you need to change or are doing something wrong. And definitely not to be lead to buy new toys. I truly hope that you can find something that works for you and will bring you joy. Let go of the things that don’t fit. Not everything works for everyone.
Monica of My Little Globe Trotters shares her experience of Mindful Motherhood and her strong support of Waldorf Education.
“I value Steiner Philosophy and Waldorf Education simply because it is aligned with my own beliefs.” This is one aspect of common ground I want to talk about. Monica found an approach to motherhood with what she values most. It is easy to feel the pressure of being a certain type of mom. Identify what works best for you and your home and bank on that. Everyone will be happier!”
Monica continues, “When I stumbled upon Waldorf Education and took the teacher training for Level 1, I was completely floored on this beautiful approach to raising children as mindfully as possible. I use the hashtag #MindfulMotherhood on my personal Instagram to remind myself and others that every little thing we do can affect our children whether we are aware of it or not. By becoming more mindful of our actions, words and thoughts (everything is energy so even thoughts matter and affect our little ones!), we can change ourselves and our children. My approach, however, is obviously not for everybody. We have no television at home, my son doesn’t own an iPad or an iPhone or any other electronic gadgets. As much as possible I stick to naturally made toys versus factory made plastic toys with the exception of Lego because my husband had to play a role in balancing me out. We also choose to travel as often as possible so my children can see the world from a different perspective early on. I let them explore and play, truly play outdoors in nature using their limbs to help with growth and brain development. Relying on travel and play as a tool for bonding works wonders for my family. When we match their energy with our loving attentiveness, magic happens. I’ve seen improvements in relationships and even in behavior!”
Jamiee Chua, the genius entrepreneur mom, who has finally brought Magformers to The Philippines, shares her wisdom about toys and getting the whole family involved.
“Ever since I had my two boys, we have always been on the lookout for good educational toys. We started the twins with toys such as Melissa and Doug and the Learning Resources, which were at the time difficult to find in Manila and had to be ordered from The U.S. We started searching for toys that were both educational and fun for them to play. We wanted to invest in good quality toys that would spark interest for a longer time. This is when I learned about Magformers. I immediately searched the internet and read the reviews. Most reviews on Amazon were very positive and the few negatives always pertained to the high price. This did not discourage us because we felt there was a market in The Philippines of young parents that were looking for quality products. We contacted Magformers and applied for the distributorship in the Philippines. Things progressed quite quickly and smoothly and now here we are representing a brand we believe in so much.
On the top of Jamiee’s criteria for a toy is Play Value. “I want toys with a purpose. I like the kids to be constantly learning even while playing. Something that will enhance their creativity, help with their development and will keep them interested for a long period of time.” Next is Quality. “It has to be well made and safe for kids. I try to avoid buying toys with small parts that a kid could easily put in their mouth. Also, it has to visually capture their attention… Lastly, I value toys that encourage the family to play together. In this age of iPads and Internet, it’s sometimes hard to get everyone to put down their gadgets and just play together and bond.”
Christine Dychiao of Manila Fashion Observer shares similar importance of toys. “I look for safety, durability, and if it’s something my kids will learn from and enjoy playing with. I have three young kids all under 7 and the last thing I want is to have to worry about them choking on anything. Of course I want something durable so we can pass on toys to the next kid.” Amen. My third baby plays with well loved toys. You know you have invested wisely when the toy can make it through three boys.
Christine goes on to share about her approach to play. “When it comes to playing with my kids, I find I enjoy playing with them more when I like the toys myself! I love educational toys, puzzles and things that encourage exploration and a love for science, math and engineering. I also love Magformers myself! My kids love playing with them too. We also love Lego and Playmobil.”
When I approach play with a playful attitude I have more fun! We don’t need to be fun mom all the time; it can be draining. These are a few of my tricks to help with meaningful play for both mom and child.
- I try and recognize when my children need play and what kind of play. My oldest son has a strong need for play before he goes to school. I always give him just a few minutes of free play before we leave in the morning.
- My middle son is often overly active or physical which shows me he may need more physical play, or the opposite, quiet calm play. Especially before bed.
- I try and have one-on-one time with each of my children during the day. It may be playful snuggling, reading, interactive or a variety of play but I strive for one-on-one.
- You don’t have to play for hours and hours. If you can, I am amazed and hats off to you. I don’t particularly love light saber battles but my boys do. I set a timer for five minutes and play with intent until that timer goes off. This is a great way to manage the stage when toddlers are in the pretend stage and make you be ‘Leia’ for four hours and say the same thing over and over. There is value to this stage they are in but it does not mean you have to do it twenty hours a day. Find a balance for both of you.
There is much to be said about play and toys. We have only shared a few personal experiences and tips but I hope you can find something to make motherhood more joyful for you.
Other posts in this series:
*Bonus: I have partnered with Magformers Ph for a giveaway on my Instagram, amommabroad. Magformers Ph and I are giving away a standard 30 piece set to one lucky follower. Go over to IG for more details. You don’t even have to have children yet. This can be for a niece, nephew, grandchild, whoever! Just comment who you will play Magformers with, follow my account (amommabroad) and Magformers Ph on Instagram and FB. You must live in The Philippines. Give away ends next Tuesday March 22.