Play for profit

This year, take a cue from your child: More open-ended fun—and less worrying—make play time pay off in a big way.

Learning Stages

By Candace Lindemann

Children's Author & Education Consultant

Candace Lindemann is a published children’s writer and educational consultant. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. You can also find Candace blogging at While Candace’s degrees prepared her for a career in education, she’s found that the best preparation for parenting is on-the-job training.

"Mommy, you be the dragon and I'll be the knight!"

My son flashes an adorable smile as I breathe fire and roar.

Suddenly, I am felled—not by his inflatable sword but by the realization that we just do not do this enough.

"This" is playing—without time limits, without goals and without rules.

My kids and I spend a lot of time together—painting, crafting, hiking, reading and cuddling. I realized, though, that my son thrives on this sort of active, imaginative, open-ended play. Although he gets this sort of play with his Daddy and older sister, he wants it from me, too.

It's easy for me to get caught up in my own agenda of "things that I think are useful." Or we get busy shuttling his precociously serious older sister to her lessons. And, of course, the baby needs to be nursed or changed.

But my little boy has needs, too! Sometimes dishes and deadlines need to wait so fun can just happen.

When I don't make this time, I've noticed the faster I try to move, the more he tries to slow me down. The toddler years are just so very much—they are so very important, so very difficult, so very precious, and so very fleeting.

My kids know Mommy does projects, she reads any book you want to read, and she makes tasty snacks...but I also want them to have memories of pillow forts, hide and seek, and all sorts of random silliness.

My New Year's Parenting Resolution is to take a lesson from my toddler and slow down, open myself to the magic in everyday, and just play.

What's your New Year's Parenting Resolution?

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