Definition of play: engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose; engage in (a game or activity) for enjoyment; amuse oneself by engaging in imaginative pretence;
Since I make toys – and I’m a mother of a little one – I begin to grow more and more curious about playing. How children these days play, how parents interact and play with them, how can we play in a fun way with them, how playing can help children’s development…
For this interview I have the pleasure to introduce you to Nina and her family.
Please tell us a bit about you and your family.
I’m Nina, 31 years old and living together with Helmut and our daughters Rosa (3) and Julie (1) in the Netherlands. I’m a (ceramics) designer working from my home studio, though in this current stage of my life most of my time is being dedicated to taking care of the girls. We live in Den Bosch, a city in the south of the Netherlands, where we’ve moved into our new house only a few months ago.
With the age my girls are, I find it really nice if a playground is safe and well-arranged (so that kids can’t run to the streets or out of sight easily) and suited for younger kids. Sometimes going to the playground with these little ones seems almost more exhaustive for me as a parent than for the kids: when you constantly have to help your kids climb, make sure they don’t fall, run after them etc it can be quite stressful (especially when you have two that both require your attention!). So it’s great when a playground offers room and opportunity for play for the kids, while I can relax a little bit myself as well!
In a free day what is your family favorite activity?
We have a great library in town with a nice youth book/play department, so that’s a really nice place to go. There’s also a wonderful animal farm with a large playground for kids close to where we live, so when the weather is okay you can find us there almost every day! I don’t always find it easy to find nice activities with a 3-year old and a 1-year-old, there don’t seem to be many places here in town that are accomodated for young kids and their play.
How do you play with your kids? With what kind of toys?
I spend a lot of my time sitting on the floor with my kids, following them in their play. Like playing shop, kitchen, playing with the dolls… We read lots of books and we also do lots of creative stuff (drawing, painting, playing with clay, baking things…) Right now the age gap between my two girls sometimes complicates certain activities: Julie is still a bit too young for most of these things, but she gets really angry when she can’t play along with her elder sister!
What is your favorite toy? And from your children?
I really like to read books with the girls, so I think those might be my favorites. The girls love their wooden play shop (it’s really big so they can play in and around it with a few kids at the same time) and also their dolls.
When you were a child what did you play and with what toys? What was your favorite one?
Well I guess that depends on age… I’ve always been reading and drawing a lot, and I also played a lot with my dolls and Barbies. Also I loved ‘pretend play’ like playing shop… Oh, and dressing up in all kinds of costumes of course!
What kind of crafts/DIY projects do you like to do with your kids?
In fact I like a lot of them, but right now I feel maybe my kids need to grow a little older to really start having more fun with crafts. Rosa, who’s three, is really enthousiastic about almost any craft, but only for like two or three minutes and then she already wants to move to something else. And for example when we draw, she prefers me to draw everything for her instead of drawing herself. So sometimes there’s much more time involved in preparing and cleaning up after the crafting than in actually doing it. I hope when the girls get older we can spend some more time crafting together, because I do like it myself! ;)
Oh, one thing that Rosa already likes a lot is baking cookies and such. We can’t do that all the time, but it’s a great mom-daughter activity when it’s just the two of us.
Your children prefer playing or watching tv? What they see in television influences how they play?
That’s a difficult one. Like most parents, we try to limit television time, though I’m not as strict about it anymore as when we only had one child. I don’t seem to have the kind of kids who can watch tv for hours: often they watch for a little while and then get involved in play again. I notice that sometimes they play things they saw in tv programmes, or pretend they’re one of the characters from their favorite series (like Pippi Longstocking).
What is your children’s favorite book? And yours (from his collection)?
A current favorite of both my girls is ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, and we love reading it to them to. We also love A bit lost by Chris Haughton.
Please ask your kid “If you could choose to be a storybook character what would you be? Why?
Rosa would love to be Miffy!
Do you know how does your children play at school?
They are at daycare two days a week, and I know there they are involved in a lot more ‘group activities’, like sitting in a circle and singing together, doing all kinds of group games etc. The teacher lately told me that Rosa’s favorite activities are playing with the dolls and pretend play in the play kitchen and such, so pretty much the same kind of thing that she likes at home. Julie is mainly exploring the whole room over there, and she seems perfectly happy with every new thing she discovers!
Your kids prefer playing indoors or outdoors?
I’m not sure, they seem to like both so far!
Does your kids like to create their own activities / games / characters?
Yes they do all kinds of fantasy/pretend play. Even Julie, who only turned one very recently, already has developed some sort of pretend play with dolls and such.
On the other hand they aren’t the kind of kids (so far) that play a lot by themselves. Particularly Rosa wants to play with me a lot and often needs some help to really start playing.
Sounds and music are important in your child playing?
They do sometimes listen to children’s music and we often sing songs. I think it’s the loveliest when I hear them sing all by themselves, without noticing that I’m listening!
Thank’s so much Nina for this interview and the wonderful images – it was really hard choosing the photos because I loved them all!
Nina is a ceramics designer and a art / craft / design lover. You can follow her and the beautiful colorful ceramics she makes at the blog Ninainvorm
Photos by Nina.
I would really like to know how your kids play? What’s their favorite toy, the one they cuddle at night?
Please leave a comment below.