Thank You Coronavirus… Parenting Just Got Even Harder

Messy room with kids’ stuff everywhere showing how parenting is hard
Messy room with kids’ stuff everywhere showing how parenting is hard

When parenting is hard… make it a game

Rather than nagging, yelling, and getting into annoying power struggles, be playful and create games to deal with everyday challenges. Be like Mary Poppins, who was a pro at transforming unpleasant tasks into fun activities.

How to make parenting a game

1. Take a deep breath

First, you need to regain control of the situation and calm yourself down. Breathe in slowly, expanding your stomach. Hold for a few seconds and exhale slowly. By breathing deeply, you’re pushing more air through your body, which soothes your nerves and eases your tension.

2. Then take another deep breath

Go ahead and take another calming breath since kids can be exasperating. You probably need it! These additional few seconds will also break the power struggle momentum between you and your kids.

3. Adopt a “can do!” spirit

Now flip your imaginary switch and adopt a positive attitude. This “can do!” spirit will ignite your creativity and set a playful mood.

4. Determine your goal

Don’t let the tension, tears, or tantrums distract you. What should your kids do? Clean up their mess? Help make dinner? Or maybe you want them to stop procrastinating and finally get ready for bed. In order to make a task playful, you need to determine your goal.

5. Creatively problem solve

How can you make this fun? Kids love to play, so you want to entice them through playfulness. Here’s a trick: choose an activity your children love. If they like singing, sing their favorite song or create your own silly song. If they like to dance, incorporate movement into the task.

Example: How to clean up a room playfully

Next time your kids refuse to clean up a messy room, try these playful clean-up ideas. Or use them to spark your own playfulness. You’ll want to choose what works best based on your children’s ages and preferences.

  • Play a guessing game. “How many minutes do you think it will take to clean this room?” With school-age kids, you can use this opportunity to incorporate math. “If you guess 9 minutes, how long will it take if three of us help?”
  • Roll dice. Roll dice to determine how many items everyone picks up at one time. “Ooh, Jackson rolled a six! Put away six things and then Sophia gets a turn to roll the dice.”
  • Sing silly songs. Sing like an opera singer with exaggerated arm movements, “Whaaaaaaaat should weeeeeeeeeeeeee piiiiiiiiiiick uuuuuuuuuuup?” Or make up your own verse to a popular song, like the “Farmer in the Dell.” “Let’s clean up this room, let’s clean up this room. First pick up all the toys, while we clean this room.”
  • March, hop, dance, and move. Encourage your kids to move playfully. Not only is this fun, but it’s also a wonderful way to get rid of excess energy. “Dance like a ballerina and scoop up the books.” “Now wiggle while you put the books on the shelf.” You can also let your children choose the movement and follow each other.
  • Pretend to be a superhero or character. Let your children become their favorite superheroes or characters. “How would Superman pick up the clothes?” “Now bounce like Tigger while you gather the books.”

Recovering stressed-out mom with secrets to share: parenting, family, and life. Author of Parenting—Let's Make a Game of It.

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