In this week’s Material Moms, guest writer Claudia Foo shares her personal experience on the importance of active play for her children.
Ever since I’ve been blessed with two kids – Andrea, 7, and Keivan, 4 – my whole life has since revolved around them. I make sure I see to all the details in their lives, from the clothes they wear and the food they chew to even the way they play.
I’ve had seven years of experience being a mother now but there are still many new things that I learn and observe every day. One thing I’ve observed over the years is the playing habits of children. Mums may agree with me on this: kids these days are tech-savvy. Most of their playing habits involve staring at the screen, which worries me. I’ve seen kids wearing glasses at a young age and some of them are so used to reading e‑books that they don’t know how to flip a real book! While I appreciate the convenience and fun that technology brings us, I am determined to bring a balance to ensure my kids get some real fun under the sun.
I strongly believe that it is important for the kids to go out and play as this is an opportunity to connect with and enjoy the nature. Also, it is known that looking at green objects such as trees and grass contributes to eyesight health.
Being working parents, my husband and I do not have the time and energy to bring the kids out during weekdays, so we started off by bringing them out to the playground on occasional Sundays, each session lasting about four hours. My husband and I would also gradually introduce new things/games to the kids, like playing bubbles, riding a bicycle, flying kites, etc. The kids had so much fun and, naturally, they looked forward to Sunday playtime. So, my husband and I decided to schedule our family bonding time every other Sunday.
Andrea, my elder daughter, is in Primary 1 now. On Wednesdays, there is 30 minutes of P.E. at the start of school, and 30 minutes after. Keivan goes to childcare from 8am till 5pm. His timetable includes physical activities such as playing in the outdoor playground, activities in the children’s gym and sometimes, water games. On average, he clocks over three hours of physical activities of various intensity in the childcare. After school and childcare, both Andrea and Keivan are babysat at my mother-in-law’s. Before dinner, and after Andrea finishes her homework, their grandma plays old-school games (remember lao ying zhua xiao ji – the eagle-and-chicks game?) with Andrea and Keivan.
Every Saturday evening, we take Andrea and Keivan to my mother’s, where they will play with their two cousins at the playground for about an hour before we take them back for dinner.
It’s been almost a year since we started our regular Sunday playtime and I do see the benefits: my children appear healthier as they are seldom sick nowadays (which, I must add, is also attributed to healthier eating habits). They are also happier as our Sunday playtime helps them relieve stress, especially for Andrea who is receiving quite a bit of pressure from homework and tuition. In fact, Andrea’s teacher commented that she is performing well and that she is a conscientious student. One thing that made us really proud was that the teacher related how Andrea consciously looks out for her classmate’s safety when they play or do class activities together. We are certain that Andrea learned this from playing with and taking care of her younger brother.
I believe outdoor play has also contributed to good eyesight for our children since they are not wearing spectacles! Active play during our family outing allows us to build closer relationship with our children, as we play together during this session. For my husband and me, we enjoy the outdoors as a respite from being cooped up in the office for five days a week.
As a working mother, I understand that this is not an easy task but once you get started, the rest will fall into place. My advice is to always start them young when they are curious and receptive to new things and ideas, and therefore can be influenced positively. Bring them out to the playground for a start and make use of the neighbourhood facilities. Listen to what the kids want and try to incorporate them into these fun times so that they will enjoy it more. For mothers with school-going kids, you can also incorporate some learning elements into the games, such as running to and naming colours they find at the playground, or hopping towards a goal using a dice to determine the number of jumps. There are just so many ways to play! Plus, there are also parenting forums for parents to exchange tips and share new acts/happenings in town suitable for kids and family.
Johnson’s Baby believes in the importance of play and advocates 60 minutes of active play a day for children. To find out more about this advocacy and how you can get your kid to start playing actively today, check out this video below:
About The Author: Claudia married her first love and became mother to Andrea and Keivan seven years ago. She is also quite the kid herself, as she delights in collecting all the cute stickers she can find from bookstores. Outside of work, she spends all her energy on her kids, ensuring they get enough fun, food and textbooks.