And… Engage!

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I’ve been wracking my brain for a good New Year resolution. The kind that will actually make a difference in my life, but not one that I’ll abandon in two to three days. You know, the Holy Grail. And while planning out my to-do’s for January I was struck with one staring me right in the face – The Power of Play.

I’ve been lucky as a mom parenting a child living with autism. I’ve had gifted therapists come into my home and help me problem solve and support my child. They have all been amazing. But the single most powerful thing they have taught me over the years is how to play with my child. It’s not something that comes naturally, and it’s easy to give up on play all together when autism so often gets in the way of that crucial connection between a parent and child. But through education and dedication, play really is the way to connect with, teach and inspire your child. And for me, it heals all manner of ills.

I know all this, plus I’ve been trained by some of the best practitioners in my home on how to do this with my son. So why in recent years have I drifted away from play? I could develop a rather long list of excuses, but it comes down to this, really. It stopped being a priority.

And that lack of commitment stops now. I re-commit to engaging in play, every day, with my children. And in case you want to join me in this resolution, here is how I’m going to do it.

  • Set aside 15 minutes every day dedicated solely to my kids – no phone calls, no emails. Well, let’s just say, no gadgets.
  • Let them lead me for a change. They get to pick the activity, and I will follow their directions, completely.
  • Provide some structure, because I’m going to need it. Put it on my appointment calendar as a recurring, daily event. Set a timer so that I keep good on my promise of a full 15 minutes devoted to play.
  • Be truly engaged. Throw myself into the play scheme, whole heartedly. Being distracted by what I’m NOT doing is the easiest way to be drained by play-time. So I’ll put my whole body into it and let go of my inhibitions. When I do that, I find that play-time gives me all the energy I need to cross off the rest of my day’s to-do’s.
  • Let go of parenting. Too often I let my role as mom interfere with my ability to play, really play, with my kids. Instead of seeing the mess at the end of the idea, I pledge to dive into the process. And suddenly, the mess ceases to matter.

Play can truly transform your family life. And as you practice it, you’ll discover how easily it starts to transform your child’s everyday interactions – at home and in the community. Your home becomes happier and more manageable and that connection you develop eases many other aspects of your parent child relationship. So join me in making 2014 the year of engaged play!

Want expert tips on the Power of Play? Attend our Lecture Series on January 13! >>

Author: Shannon

Shannon parents a son on the spectrum, lives in MN and writes to stay sane. She is passionate about connecting families to the services that will transform their lives. Read her full bio here.

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