let them play

February 6, 2015

home playhome playhome playhome playhome playThe girls are so cute. I was busy making granola downstairs, and I come up to see this set-up. Not sure what was going on, but it looked like they were having fun. While, our homeschooling schedule is full, I make sure these girls get a lot of play in too. I think play is just as important! They can play everywhere and they play so well together. I love seeing their imagination come to life, and while my inner neat freak cringes when the mess gets crazy, I do love seeing their imagination at work.

When we just had True, we were pretty strict on this handmade/wooden toys only, and while I much prefer that, they’re kids and they will like other things too. And with the grandparents, sometimes, there’s just no way of stopping them; we do try. If the girls don’t clean up their toys, and I have to do it, all the toys I clean up go in a bin. Later,  if they do something that warrants a prize/celebration (like performing in a small school production, memorizing memory verses, graduating to the next level of swim class, etc.), we go back to the bin and they pick out something. A toy that was theirs once, may not be theirs later if a sister picks it out before they can get to it.

The way my girls play is a little bit different from how I remember playing as a child. I was way more into dressing and styling my dolls, and I had tons of Barbies. My girls don’t have Barbies because of Ben’s feelings about them and the type of body image it portrays to little girls. Though they do have those Disney princess ones, so it’s kinda different (kind of not), but the princess ones are allowed (although they don’t last long!). I think the main difference in the different ways we played is that I played by myself because I was 4 when my brother was born. My girls have each other, so they are always playing in groups. The drawback to that is that they are so used to playing with each other, that when other kids come around, they just tend to stick together and not really talk to other kids. Then add them being slower to warm up, and sometimes I get embarrassed that they don’t seem so friendly to others. That’s probably a whole other post, and maybe some of you may have tips on how to deal with that.

I remember as a kid, my cousin would make fun of me because my Barbies’ boyfriends were my New Kids on the Block dolls. I think I had the whole band! Anyone else have those dolls too? I think Jonathan was my favorite.


18 comments on “let them play”

  • Sarah Rafferty says:

    What do you mean exactly about the Barbie thing? Their actual figure or the little clothes that come with them? I remember barbies coming in different colours and all kinds of professions (doctor, vet, paramedic, mother, etc) is it a view you both share?

    • Rubyellen says:

      The Barbie’s figure. We think it’s great that they have doctor, vet, and Barbies like that, but it’s the body image Barbies tend to portray. Not that we think owning a Barbie will directly correlate on having body image issues, but it’s just something we choose not to give to our girls. I grew up with them and I have good memories, but I’m okay not giving them to my daughters. I don’t feel they are missing out on anything, and they may grow up and be moms who do give their children Barbies. That will be there decision. It’s just our personal decision and considering Ben’s profession, we take extra care on being aware of body image things.

  • Play is SO important! With all of the testing and common core crap that kids have to put up with in schools, it’s so refreshing to see someone advocating playtime. Your girls are too cute!

    Circus & Bloom

  • Sophia says:

    I have 4 little girls, too (ages 9 down to 4) and have certainly experienced the same thing with friends. They get into a groove with each other and it’s sometimes hard to help them broaden their circle. Some of the things I’ve experimented with: talk to them about how the friend(s) is their special guest and make it a team effort for all of them to take particular care of her, make her happy, give her a good experience in our home, GO TEAM!; start visits with more structured time with me to get them warmed up then turn them loose; look for opportunities to pair/group them (we don’t find other groups of 4 little girls so usually it’s 1 friend for every 2 or 3 of mine); meet the friend(s) in a non-home environment so they don’t just gravitate toward what they always do together but have to be more creative about making fun.

    And we agree with you about the Barbies. We’ve had the philosophy that just as it’s not good to load up their bodies with unhealthy food, it’s not good for their minds to load up on false images of perfection. I don’t want my daughters to think that if they don’t look a certain way there’s something wrong with them and spend their lives dissatisfied with what they’ve been given. I know I can’t control every impression and image they are exposed to, but while they’re little in my home and care, I want to make their world as safe from those pressures as possible.

  • Frédérique says:

    I love everything about this! natural toys are best but the it kind of an impossible goal to achieve to only keep those! Loved my barbies growing up though I understand arguments against very well. I got my daughter a couple of really pretty vintage ones, they are so much prettier and their bodies are less sexualized (I think so at least!). Awesome tip re;the bin!! And playtime is definitely as important as school time. What a great childhood you are giving them!

    • Rubyellen says:

      I agree. It’s so impossible to have only natural toys unless you keep your kids hidden in a cave away from society. We have learned to balance it and I get rid of things they don’t really play with.

      I’m with you, I loved my Barbies and had good memories playing with them, but my husband grew up differently. His sister didn’t have them for the same reason he doesn’t prefer our girls have them. In the end, I don’t think my kids are missing much not having them, and the toys they care for most are their wooden blocks, my little ponies, and handmade dolls. Thus, I think they have plenty to keep them occupied.

  • Heather says:

    You rock. Plain and simple.

  • Sally says:

    Jonathan was my fave as well – I almost fell off my stool the other day when I was eating lunch and heard on TV that he was gay. I lived in a total fantasy land where I would meet him and get married to him and have little NKOTB babies!

  • nikki says:

    your home always looks so fun and inviting!

    xx nikki

  • your kids have always been some of my favorites. 😉 they are so so creative and adorable of course.

    you are a great mom! keep up the wonderful work.

    • Rubyellen says:

      Thank you! If you heard my yelling, you’d rethink that great mom statement. Crazy mom is more like it! 😉

  • Oh yes, I had the NKOTB dolls. Jordan was my fave.

    It’s a little strange to me — this desire among women our age to only give our kids wooden toys and handmade dolls. We didn’t grow up with these simplistic toys, really, so it’s not like we’re just doing a throwback to our childhoods.

    I grew up with Jem and She-ra and Barbie and Rainbow Brite and Smurfette, and I do not have issues with body image. I’ve always been a larger woman, but I think about my size very little in the grand scheme of things; I’m far too busy being awesome. It seems to me that positive reinforcements of worthiness are more important to a child’s self-esteem than the dolls she chooses to play with.

    In other words, let them have their Disney princesses if they like ’em! (That’s just my two cents.)

    • Rubyellen says:

      You raise a very good point. For my children, I’ve learned to give them a balance. We have plenty handmade and plenty plasticy toys. My only concern is they have too much. The grandparents are constantly giving so much (out of their love), that my kids don’t value them as they should. This then creates this large mess and can be hard to contain, which gives me mess stress. I find though my kids play more with their wooden toys and my little ponies. They do well with building kinds of toys.

      As far as body image, I don’t think having a Barbie will directly correlate with their idea of body image. It’s just not my husband’s preference to give them that and I’m okay with it. I don’t feel like they are missing anything not having Barbies. I had them growing up, but I’m okay with them not having them.

  • Yes!!! Jonathon was the coolest NKOTB!

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