The Benefits of #OrganicPlay with a 4-Year Old
Arya’s calendar is almost as full as mine these days. Between online school, indoor and outdoor play activities, and her new baby brother, things are go-go-go all the time! Because of this, I try to make sure that we pre-schedule one-on-one playtime for her and I each week.
When we get our “Arya-Mommy time”, I like to embrace the idea of #OrganicPlay – a less rigid, more kid-driven approach to playtime. We’ve been playing this way for a while now, and it’s been working so well! She loves that there are no “rules” (a welcome change for her, since I’m normally quite the disciplinarian), and I love that I get to see her creativity shine without limits!
Here are a few of my tips, in case you want to try #OrganicPlay with your kids.
Choose Imagination over Screen Time: Arya’s tablet has saved me more than a few times on long-car rides and flights, however whenever I can avoid it, I try my best to encourage her to choose creative play over screen time.
By the time we’re adults, a lot of our imagination has been conditioned out of us. It’s sad, really, which is why I want to nurture Arya’s creativity and imagination for as long as possible.
Embrace A Role-Reversal: One of the most surprising things I’ve noticed from our organic play sessions has been a major boost in confidence. I’ve really been able to see Arya’s leadership skills developing as I let her take control of our play sessions.
When she takes the lead, she’s more engaged in her own development and fun. If she’s loving what she’s doing, we just keep going. It’s been amazing to see some of her unique interests have begun to emerge!
Encourage Active-Play: As a fitness advocate, I try my best to gently encourage Arya to have a healthy relationship with physical activity. She loves to follow-along when it comes to my HIIT workouts, which is great of course, but I also like to encourage her to make up her own active games. We play a lot of variations of tag, hide-and-seek, fort-making (perfect for rainy days), and more.
Explore Nature: Thankfully, Arya enjoys being outside as much as I do. As a family, we take walks in the paths around our house fairly regularly, and my husband and I encourage her to be curious, for example pointing out signs of spring to us. We love seeing her get excited by nature and run around outside.
Pack Easy Snacks: I think every parent has experienced the hunger tantrum, when your kid doesn’t want to stop playing to eat lunch, but then inevitably becomes hangry and has a breakdown. I avoid that with easy grab-and-go snacks that keep Arya nourished and pass her taste-test. One of our favourites is Stonyfield Organic Kids Drinkable Yogourt. All of the flavours are delicious (strawberry, strawberry banana and very berry), plus it gets my seal of approval because it’s made with real organic fruit, 100% canadian organic milk and it’s low in sugar.
I always have a few portable snacks on me to keep both me and Arya fuelled during play-time and our outdoor activities.