Many moms are so exhausted, and so taxed for time, that the last thing in the world they want to do is play the game or make-believe that their young children wants to play. And to compound the already existing problem, if we overlay the dilemma of the different interests of the two sexes, in what they like to do, it can get doubly frustrating. Fathers often disdain playing dolls with their toddler daughters, and mothers often don’t enjoy playing with trucks. So are we at an impasse with our offspring? Gratefully, no. Here is an easy fix that will please everyone. This is a radical new way to look at play. Here it is in a nutshell: instead of you playing with your children, have them play with you.
How does that work? Just this way: in all of your undertakings, always be mindful of preparing a little companion job to be done by your toddler right next to you. That's the winning formula!
For example: If you are scrubbing the kitchen floor, give them a little plastic bowl of water and a rag and have them wipe the fronts of the lower cabinets. It won't hurt the cupboards in the least and it will not matter a whit if they do a good job or a bad one. The important thing is that you are together with your child, sharing cheerful conversation while they catch the "work ethic". Working with your child in a positive atmosphere results in a very satisfying and progressive life for everyone involved.
Here's another example: If you are doing dishes, fill the second sink with warm water and let your child stand on a chair or stool and play in the water with their hands with whatever (even the silverware), while you proceed to accomplish everything around them, just as you normally would. Or fill a plastic tub with water next to you on the counter for their play area. They may want to wash some of their own toys there, while they are with you, next to you. Or they can wash cups (for example).
While you’re doing the laundry, set your young child on top of the dryer and have him or her pour in the detergent which you measure; the child can stir the clothes with a wooden stick. Afterwards, have the child sort by colors with you and match socks, etc. Also, include your little ones in as much cooking as possible. The key is to spend the day getting in as much relational time as possible in and around all of the projects you are already needing to undertake.
In addition to sharing life with your child in this way, also read to your child and take a good long walk each day, to round out the day nicely. There is nothing so soothing and so bonding for a child as hearing a parent's voice reading, while snuggled in at their side. You can do this several times a day. In choosing reading material, avoid choosing drivel and fantasy as much as possible. Instead, focus on Bible reading, bedtime stories that show godly character, and missionary biographies. Drain these three choices dry, logging in thousands of hours over these good materials, and this will shape your child in ways that you will never regret.
Remember that the Lord chose to be with His disciples as much as possible, to good ends. So let us emulate the best. With such choices, our families will be relieved of the tyranny of our culture's over-dependence upon providing endless entertainment for our children, to a vain and worthless end.
For a whole lot more ideas for productively working with a preschooler, see our Training Terrific Tots: 50 things to do with preschoolers.