THE BLOG

Play Doesn't Have to Be Picture Perfect

08/16/2015 09:52 EDT | Updated 08/16/2016 05:59 EDT
Zurijeta via Getty Images

I am all for being passionate about ANYTHING you do in life, from dicing seventeen onions to studying for your doctorate. Where there is passion, there is hope, drive and ultimately (hopefully) joy in the end result.

Passion doesn't always come with a smooth course. Especially when it comes to parenting. It also doesn't have to be artfully curated to be genuine.

I love perusing Pinterest, Instagram and asking my friends for ideas on ways to keep my toddlers active and learning. I make tape obstacle courses, forts and DIYs for them because I look at a piece of cardboard or plywood and my brain takes a runaway train to crafting town.

I don't post pictures of everything I try. Most of what I try ends up as a pinfail, in my childrens' stomachs, or shoved through the one-inch access into the not-so-child-proof cutlery drawer.

But I do try, because I enjoy it.

But sometimes I don't try and I enjoy that too.

We can all be passionate, but we don't have to follow any rules about HOW we accomplish that.

I'm talking about those perfect pictures of a bright quilt on the sun-drenched grass with tidy little colourful bins set up with carefully selected toys and textures for each child. This pre-play shot looks inviting and serene and the premise in which all learning and fun will take place. Along with these images we see the token hashtags #playmatters #invitationtoplay.

There is nothing wrong with setting up some crafts and activities. I enjoy doing something like this for my kids as much as the next crafty mom. But for days when I'm not crafty, I need to remember that I don't need a pretty image and handmade project, rather my kids don't need it, to learn and discover. Parental intervention combined with Pinterest won't make my children wiser, more playful, or more inventive.

When I told my husband about the miraculous modern innovation called a sensory bin he burst my "this-is-what-moms-do-to-be-good-moms" bubble and said, 'Honey, it's called a sandbox and a bathtub.'

What is the original invitation to play?

The word "yes".

I just need to stop saying no.

So when my kids grab at the bag of oatmeal, I remind myself to give them a measuring cup and bowl and let them mess up my floor. When they grab handfuls of leaves and sticks on their way into the door give them a bucket, I give them some glue and paper.

2015-08-12-1439415410-9785847-IMG_7002.jpg

I need to follow their lead. Let them explore independently. Be OK with the messes.

And let's promise each other, if we use the hashtags #playmatters #invitationtoplay of a neat activity or craft that we will follow it up with pictures of the post-play aftermath. Which, if it's like in my house, it ends up with at least one toddler crying in time out for repeatedly dumping oatmeal down your vent and a one baby eating the pile of dust and oatmeal you are frantically sweeping up. #reallife

2015-08-12-1439415979-4380428-IMG_7006.jpg

Shawna writes at Simple on Purpose about the ups and down of a family of five taking on simpler living. Find her abusing hashtags, sharing pictures of laundry, waffles and momselfies on Instagram.

MORE ON HUFFPOST:

Kids Playing With 80s Toys