“Stop cleaning and play with me, Mama”

My son literally said that to me. And just to give some context: I am NOT an immaculate house cleaner by any stretch. I try to stay on top of the dishwasher, the laundry, and getting chunks of food off the floor. That’s it. And that, most of the time, is an impossible, never-ending task. But when my son said that, it was a wake-up call. Pay attention. The days are long but the years are


short. And children, especially children under five or even six, need to PLAY. And they need to play in an interactive environment of the safety of attachment relationships. Dr Gordon Neufeld, author of Hold onto your Kids: Why Parents Matter (2004) states, “Preschoolers have fundamentally different brain wiring and need to be free of consequences and attachment hunger.”

He cautions that young children need to be free from the work of pursuing attachment relationships so they can do their work, which is to PLAY.

Play helps children build problemsolving networks. At four, five, even six, children are not ready to learn by working because the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where a child is capable of mixed feelings, is still under ‘All work and no play’ construction. It only gets wired at between five and seven years of age.


     And so I stopped and we did some “special time.” Special time is child-directed play for an allotted time. (See link below for more information on Hand-in-hand parenting and special time). You can set the timer for 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 45 minutes. It is a tool from hand-in-hand parenting that helps busy parents allocate time for special attention to their children in a realistic way. We played race cars. I was given “Purple pizazz” (naming them has been the latest game). Much better than cleaning the floor.


“All work and no play…is not good for the developing brain,” Ottawa Citizen, February, 2012





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