May 2022

Play isn’t another thing to do. It’s another way to do things

Playful parenting gives a boost to every member of the family – and it doesn’t have to feel like yet another thing on the to do list. Read one parent’s perspective on getting more play in every day

Sarah Bouchie

Parents and children alike tell us that they feel happier when they get more time to play

And the evidence is piling up that play is the best way for children to learn – and thrive. But when you’re busy juggling work and home time, play can feel like another thing on the to-do list.

That’s why we asked a busy parent – our Chief Impact Officer Sarah Bouchie – to talk about how she’s changed the game. And why she’s calling on other parents to make a Play Pledge, and make one moment a week more playful.


Sarah’s story: getting more play in every day

"Parenting is a gift, but it also puts you under tremendous pressure at times – and I’m not here to make it any harder! Getting more play into everyday moments is actually a great way to lift a bit of the weight off your shoulders."

Take walking to school. It’s probably become a bit of a hurried routine that you hardly even think about. But what if you skipped all the way? Played a game of counting yellow cars? Or darted behind trees on the way there to avoid squirrel pirates? While your children are polishing up their physical and creative skills (and maybe a bit of basic maths, too), they simply experience it as having more fun – and you will too.


The best part is, there’s something in it for everyone

When children play it unlocks all their natural curiosity – setting them up to be lifelong learners. By making the everyday more playful, you’re giving them space to solve problems, think flexibly, and stretch their creative muscles. All absolutely essential skills for the adults they’ll all too soon become (eek!).

For you, there’s loads of family bonding – so you might find you’re a whole lot less stressed (and maybe learning a thing or two). And if you can make a game out of sweeping up dust bunnies or fitting all the groceries neatly in the cupboard, you’ll also have some cheerful little home helpers - which can only be a good thing!

Making one moment a week more playful

Perhaps your next bath time will be a bubble-blowing competition. Or you’ll try your best silly walks wandering down the grocery aisles. Whatever you do, you don’t have to come up with all the ideas yourself. As part of our Build a World of Play campaign you’ll find playful parenting ideas all over our Instagram this summer.

As for my own Play Pledge? Well, I’m promising my daughters to make clearing the dinner dishes one of the best parts of our night. I already have ideas: find a rhyming word for each object you pick up; keep a balloon up in the air while loading the dishwasher; copycat walks while clearing the dishes; build fork hideouts in the sink. Best of all, I know my six-year-old will have even better ideas than I will.

We’re calling on families to make a #PlayPledge and put more play into their day

Capture your playful moments and share them on social media, using the hashtags #PlayPledge #BuildAWorldOfPlay.

The fact is, we all need play more than ever

For the past few decades time to play has been steadily squeezed – and even though people spent more time at home during the pandemic, it was under far from ideal circumstances.

In fact, Home-Start ran a survey that showed 52% of parents thought their little ones didn’t cope well, and 92% had worries about children’s behaviour or development. Making a Play Pledge is one way to start tackling those worries head on – using the power of play to help children build back up their social and emotional toolkit.

Playful parenting needn’t be hard work

Don’t let worrying about how to play with your children get in the way of, well, playing! You’re probably doing lots of playful things already. But everyone runs out of inspiration sometimes. That's why we've gathered some of our favourite games. You can play them anywhere – using things you find at home.

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