Two weeks ago, I wrote a piece entitled: “Kids and the Fight for Time.” That posting spoke to the decreasing amount of time that over-scheduled children have to play. John Bray, who blogs at johnthetoyshopguy.wordpress.com, had some thoughts of his own on the subject. I found what he had to say to be of interest and I think you will as well.
Sometimes a couple of random things coming to my attention at the same time can be enough to get me writing, and this happened last night: first I read a short article by toy industry writer Richard Gottlieb about kids and the fight for time when it comes to play, he basically points out that the upsurge in app play over traditional toys might be due to the stretched schedules of children, the next thing I read (literally about five minutes later) was one of these viral stories from facebook (I’ll post the transcript at the bottom of this post) which describes the lengths that a little boy had to go to get some time with his dad. Normally I don’t spend much time looking at that kind of thing but the timing was strange so I read on. Mixing these two together I started to think about how hard it is for parents of even fairly young children to fit in some quality play time with their kids.
Thanks to Orchard toys we’re now the proud owners of brand new boxes of Baa Baa, Pirate Shapes and Rocket Game and I’ve got to admit we’re all playing a lot more games at home now. Finding the time to sit down and play a board game always used to seem like a bit of a struggle. We’d be running the boys round different clubs/ groups etc., getting Logan to nursery, getting them to sit down and eat their meals, in amongst this we’d let the boys decide what to play, so board games, puzzles or anything else that sat away in the book case often didn’t get looked at. Thanks to the time management it took to get our first couple of ‘Toy Testers’ reviews done I’ve now realised that it’s OK for daddy to pick what we play sometimes and it’s made it so much easier to fit in things like games, puzzles and non-bedtime stories.
I’m not saying that these things never got played with before, it was just that they normally didn’t get looked at unless it was a day when the whole family was together and we hadn’t arranged to be heading out anywhere. I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to timetable the boys’ play from now on but having a deadline meant that I had to sit them down and play with something specific and they both loved it. In the past I’ve confessed to a lack of confidence about doing crafty stuff with the kids (mainly because of the chaotic mess I can imagine whenever I think about it) but I’m starting to see how it could work. Maybe it’s because the boys are a bit older now too and they’re starting to appreciate a more timetabled play time, trying out new things and getting some one-on-one time with us.
All I can say to Gottlieb’s article is that although parents do feel more obligated to get kids along to clubs we need to think about the motivation for that. I was a telly addict as a kid and gradually moved on to be hooked to my games system and when I became a dad I decided I wanted to try and expose my son to more than just TV and other ‘indoor’ stuff. With this in mind we signed Logan up to a whole bunch of activities, groups and classes from when he was very young to try and make sure he socialised with other kids and also (an important one for me) we didn’t want him to feel intimidated by sports. I’m not sure if the motivation for clubs etc. is the same for other parents.
I often hear (from parents of older children than my own) how much they despise the games systems their kids are hooked to and that they’ve signed them up for this class or that group to try and get them out of the house and away from their computer games. Gottlieb points out that the more kids are signed up to classes the more time they’ll spend travelling to these classes and the more time spent travelling the less complicated the toys they use on the way will have to be; here entereth the app. An iphone, tablet or