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 Uju and her family.
Please tell us a bit about you and your family.
I’m Uju, mum to two rowdy but very lovely boys (Ezra, 11 and Jed, 8) and wife to Abiye who runs a popular street food business (Big Apple Hot Dogs). I’m Babe-in-Chief at Babes about Town, a family lifestyle and travel blog aimed at parents raising cool, cultured kids in London and beyond. I’m also a TV screenwriter and head up the team at Mothers & Shakers, a bloggers’ collective running digital content campaigns for a variety of clients.
We’re blessed with some great playgrounds in my neighbourhood of Islington, north London. My boys like Arundel Square which has slides, basketball court, ping pong table and a tree house. I’d say our favourite ‘playground’ is the Southbank Centre. It’s really an arts and events centre, but there’s so much to do there at any time of year, and lots of it is free.
On a free day, what is your family’s favourite activity?
We love exploring the city, checking out new restaurants, going to theatre shows or child-friendly discos. We’re all foodies so a perfect day might include going out for a play in the park and then finding somewhere delicious to eat nearby.
How do you play with your boys? With what kind of toys?
I love hula hooping and my boys can hoop pretty well too. They are football obsessed, so sometimes I’ve found myself playing goalkeeper. At home we enjoy cards and board games, anything from Oware (an African board game) to Ordleg (a Scandinavian word game, a bit like Scrabble).
What is your favourite toy? And your children’s?
My favourite toy would have to be my hula hoop. Or my mobile phone! From my kids? Well, this isn’t from my children but it was a bespoke Babes about Town teddy gifted to me by a shop called Native Belle Boutique. I think it’s really sweet.
When you were a child what did you play and with what toys? What was your favourite one?
My memories of childhood include lots of playing chase and cops and robbers with my endless cousins. Skipping ropes and counting games too. I used to make up card games, I was a little card shark! My favourite toy was a cuddly lion that my Dad gave me on my 10th Christmas. I named him Aslan and he was the keeper of my secrets.
What kind of crafts/DIY projects do you like to do with your kids?
I’m the opposite of a crafty mama, I always say I have two left hands! My craft is words so we enjoy making up stories and songs. We even rap battle each other! We also enjoy cooking together on occasion. I was pleased Ezra made himself scrambled eggs for breakfast the other day.
Do your children prefer playing or watching tv? Does what they see on television influence how they play?
They watch YouTube more than TV. I don’t get the appeal of half the stuff they watch! Actually one of Ezra’s school friends started training himself to stack cups really fast, after watching YouTube videos. Now he’s going to represent Team GB in an international tournament. So I guess YouTube can be a positive influence!
What is your children’s favourite book? And yours (from their collection)?
Hard to choose. They’re both very much into Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates at the moment. Ezra loves Harry Potter, he’s read all the books and we read the Harry Potter play together last summer. I’m a big Harry Potter fan too. This Easter, we’ll be reading the script for Fantastic Beasts.
Please ask your kids “If you could choose to be a storybook character what would you be? Why?”
Jed says: ‘I’d be Tom Gates because he is very funny and he always doodles and his best friend lives just next door.’ Ezra says: ‘I’d be Jamie Johnson because he loves football and he has a similar style of playing to me.’
Do you know how does your children play at school?
They play a game called Champ which seems to be the source of many squabbles! It’s also sweet to see them playing some of the games I played when I was little, like Bulldog and Hopscotch.
Your kids prefer playing indoors or outdoors?
When they’re indoors, it’s difficult to tear them off their video games. But outdoors they can spend hours just kicking a ball around, so I’ll go with my preference – outdoors!
Does your kids like to create their own activities / games / characters?
I learned recently that Jed has an imaginary friend that he plays with sometimes at school. We often make up games – balloon volleyball is a favourite.
Sounds and music are important in your child playing?
For Jed’s 8th birthday, I bought him a piano keyboard and it’s been such a fun addition to our home. I’m teaching them a little of what I remember from my piano lessons as a kid. I studied for years but I’m very rusty now. Jed has been teaching himself piano via YouTube videos, which I think is pretty cool.
Another fun family! – Thank’s a lot Uju for sharing with us a little of your world!
Uju is the face behind the cool family lifestyle and travel popular blog Babes About Town. She even has time tu run another blog for small businesses :)
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.