She Said, Shut Up and Play with Me


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As an only child I always longed for someone who wanted to play with me. It didn’t help that the games of the time were I’m Telling and Double Dare – both sibling games. As they sat on my shelf collecting dust, I realized two player games were just not in my cards (cards – however I could play… sniff sniff solitaire).

I thought when I got married I could force my husband to play with me but he’s no fun. The best I get is a one-sided cutthroat game of Spit on my birthday, and only because he has to say yes.

Enter the offspring!

I was super excited when my daughter was born. I FINALLY had someone (obligated and) willing to play with me! SHE happened to enjoy playing with me – so there!

I’ve wanted to write about playing with one’s kids for months but ironically I’ve been too busy – playing with my kids – to do it. So in honor of today being the Worldwide Day of Play, here we go.


So what have I been doing? School ended, summer began. Between our family memberships and free library passes every day was filled with a morning activity (PSA – I love the zoo. Best membership in New York, ask someone to get it for you for the holidays). Then, since my little one takes a killer nap, the “big girl” toys would come out while he slept – puzzles, beads, shmancy arts and craft projects, Magna-Tiles, anything she wanted.


One of my favorite discoveries of the summer was GoldieBlox (a really cool engineering set for girls). I loved sitting with my daughter and teaching her how to follow a diagram, lay out all the needed pieces, and then create the project. It was amazing to see her reaction as she completed each page making the diagram came to life. Even more remarkable – while on-line at an amusement park she pointed out a banister made out of the real life version of five of her GoldieBlox pieces.


But the best, best, best part was just playing with her one on one. I could go on and on about how much fun it is to have a little girl who wants to play with the toys I played with as a kid – like Lite Brite or lanyard. It’s just is one of those things us mothers smile about… while doing Chinese Staircase.

Enter boy kid.

Boy kid is almost two. My husband and I laugh that amongst a sea of dolls and a land of pink, he only has eyes for trucks, ducks, trains, planes and fish. Give the boy a truck and he’s set. If you come to our house you’ll have to play trains with him. He won’t take “no” for an answer. Just accept it.


I love playing with my daughter’s big girly things, I love playing with my son’s little man things, but the best is watching them play together.


These two creatures who came from my belly create such vivid tales I just sit in awe watching them – my son who barely speaks (yet we know exactly what he is saying) and my daughter who doesn’t stop talking. I just sit there crying happy tears (shocker). It’s the best thing on Earth. Their current obsession is Shopkins – which I didn’t get at first but now see encourage such imaginative play – I’m a huge fan.


I would be remiss to not include my love of outdoor play. Most nice afternoons I open the door and kick my kids out of the house. I love that they get fresh air and exercise without even trying. Oh outside, how I love thee. Chalk in the spring, gardening and growing vegetables in the summer, leaf collection in the fall, spraying food coloring in the snow to create art in the winter, the possibilities are endless! With each season brings a new adventure. Piles of leaves to jump in, piles of snow at the bottom of the slide – all a recipe for instant fun! When I moved to the suburbs buying a swing set was my number one priority and I haven’t looked back since.


A gifted and talented teacher once told me the best thing a parent could do is simply foster a child’s love of whatever they’re interested in at the moment. I think of this often.


We are all so, so busy but I try every day – at least for a bit – to put down my phone, put horse blinders on and just play with my kids. The sad part is we run around so much with them we often forget the simplicity of just stopping and imagining all the possibilities of a cardboard box.

Swing 1

I’ve adapted the mantra that they will never be this little again and that tomorrow they will be a bit bigger. I also think about how I felt like a million bucks when my parents sat down and played with me. But most important, I think of how RIGHT NOW it is my kid’s childhood and RIGHT NOW they are making the memories they will hopefully refer to as “the happy times” when asked by their future therapist.


So in conclusion, put down your phone. GO play with your kids. Go put the sprinkler on and run through it with them. Go sit on your swing set glider and see how high you can all go. Go down the slide and fall on your tush. They’ll think it’s hilarious. Build a fort. Color with them (we recently found Crayola Color Alive books. AMAZING!). Most important, kiss them a zillion times. One day they won’t call you back because they no longer think of you as the moon and stars –which they do RIGHT NOW.


Like this? Take the Genius of Play’s pledge saying you too will play with your kids and give them all the developmental benefits of play. Want more? Here are some expert articles and stats and facts about play, enjoy!


Like what you see? Join me in helping Genius of Play reach their goal of 1,000,000 pledged hours of play. Once reached they’ll donate $10,000 worth of toys to support play for children in need. Pretty cool, right?


What’s your favorite way to play with your kids? Most creative one wins a mystery prize!

Published by Stacey Wallenstein

Stacey Gish Wallenstein created The Mint Chip Mama blog in 2013 to share her love and passion for giving children meaningful life experiences and helping moms like her navigate the challenges and benefits of raising children in the New York metropolitan area. Before becoming a full-time mom in 2010, Stacey spent the better part of the preceding decade as a high-end customer relationship management (CRM) professional for some of the most well-known brands in the hotel, luxury, fashion, and beauty industries, such as Harrahs Entertainment, Chanel and Christian Dior, Inc. She managed customer loyalty programs for thousands of clients around the country and created social media strategies for a span of industries including healthcare services, restaurants, consumer packaged goods, specialty foods, local attractions and retail locations. After 13 wonderful years in Manhattan (the last three of which spent as a city mom), Stacey and her husband moved to Long Island in 2014, where they now reside with their three children (11, 7, and 5). There, she is a founding member of her local Parenting Center, which provides classes and coordinates events designed to educate and inform parents while fostering an environment of support and friendship within the community. Stacey is also an active PTA member (and former president) as well as a Girl Scout troop leader. Her musings on motherhood, Manhattan, the suburbs, and more can be found here and on Facebook at The Mint Chip Mama. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Stacey has been active in the New York area alumni organization for nearly twenty years, serving as a board member on the schools University of Michigan Alumni Club of New York City. She also holds a Masters in Psychology from The New School in New York City. For more updates, follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

2 thoughts on “She Said, Shut Up and Play with Me

  1. Love this post!!! I am struggling to understand Shopkins but my daughter is obsessed! I love to play Chinese Checkers, Operation and Go Fish with my daughter but she is a cheat so you really have to watch out. We also play a lot of hangman which is pretty funny because she misspells all the words…

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