Sunday, 1 July 2012

Just Nothing Play

I like structure & I like having things planned! I can be organised (emphasis on can); I guess plans and structure make life feel a little less chaotic. I try to do some structured things with Dimples, I could make an entire blog dedicated to FAIL activity attempts. Yes, I have a lot of light bulb moment that fall through and yes I have a lot of brilliant ideas that he just is not interested in. Since Dimples has turned 3, I have realised more and more that I have to let go of the reigns a little and let him 'just be'.

Planned does not always work out the way I planned. The other week I made a nature scavenger hunt, I spent some time doing up his checklist & planting things around the yard to make sure he would find the things on his list. What a great idea I thought, you know? Being together- outdoors, Being Active- walking around looking at nature and doing something different together. No, he was not interested. I could NOT for the life of me get him interested, no amount of enthusiasm, chirpy expressions, excited faces or Cool Mum talk would change his mind.

The verdict? He has his own mood, his own interests, his own mind and is expressing to me that he is Mr. Independent and doesn’t always want to do what Mummy thinks is cool! In my head I was saying "But don’t you want to do this fun, educational activity that I spent hours drawing up and preparing just for you?" but instead I admitted defeat and said “Ok maybe another day; Tell me what you would like to then?”

His answer?  With a serious face, crossed arms and a slightly angry tone he said “Just Nothing”.  Nothing, how do you do just nothing? If you lie down and stare at the roof you’re still doing something, staring at the roof right?  What he meant was, he didn’t want to do a planned, structured or set game, activity or anything with me.

I watched as he went off to do nothing, trying to do my own thing and let him be. I would not interrupt him if he looked like he needed help or guidance. I would just let him be.
Free Play is important and this is something I often forget because of my stringent planning compulsion. Through doing “Just Nothing” or having free play children learn how to explore their worlds how they like at a pace that is comfortable with them and they learn how to amuse themselves.
Dimples “just nothing” play lead him to ride his bike for a while where he had to put his helmet on himself something I usually do for him. He then sat quietly and played with his soft Woody Cowboy Toy. I watched very proudly as he played doctors on his Cowboy, gently making up a doctors bed, slowly placing him on the bed and thoughtfully giving him a blanket, teddy and a tissue. He went and got a pillow to elevate the toys ‘sore arm’. At one stage he told me to Shush because I will wake him up, then he tiptoed away & whispered “get better soon”.  This is a side of Dimples I love, a sensitive compassionate caring nature.  He has always cradled and swayed his toys, patting and babying them but this really warmed my heart.

When he returned to his sick cowboy he bought with him a thread of wool to tie up his broken arm. He sat fiddling with the wool, twisting and balling is, wrapping it around but it kept pulling off. I could see he was getting frustrated but I promised I would not interfere with his free play. He persisted with a much focused look on his face and taught himself how to tie a knot. He was very pleased of his accomplishment and his face lit up. Through perseverance he taught himself a new skill.
Free play is important particularly for pre-schoolers so that they can develop new skills and learn how to persist under pressure giving them important life skills such as impulse control and the ability to think twice (executive functioning). 
Through free play they may learn how to self-teach new skills, self-sooth with frustrated or upset, cure their own boredom by amusing themselves, gain self-gratification and confidence by doing things they haven’t done independently before.

Persistence, Resilience, Stress management, Executive decision making and the ability to accomplish tasks independently are all very big things that free play fosters that will in the long run give a child confidence and important life skills.

If you’re like me, don’t forget this and try to obstruct your urge to interrupt free play if you ever feel guilty that your child is doing “Just Nothing”.

Happy Adventures :)


  1. I love "Just Nothing" play! It's so neat to see what they come up with on their own!

    Thanks for sharing with learning laboratory at mama smiles =)

  2. This is a wonderful post! Following you from Mom 2 two Posh Lil Diva's linky and KBN. Will g+ & pin it.

  3. This is a great post - I am totally inspired to put together a post like this now!!

    Thanks for stopping by The Sunday Showcase, hope to see you there again next week!


  4. Love this post! Free play is such an important part of how children learn. :)

  5. Doing nothing sometimes is the best kind of play! Thank you for sharing on High paw!

  6. Couldn't agree with your more! We love our do nothing times and the best moments and play come out of it.

    Just love the picture of Woody as a patient. It put a huge smile on my face!

    Thank you for linking up to the Sunday Parenting Party! I hope you come back again tomorrow to link up another article.



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