I have to admit, I am just a big monkey really. I use lots of cheeky monkey games and fun to create laughter and joy in our children’s lives. In this blog post, I offer some fun and playful ideas to create imagination and entertainment to your children. I also mention gentle parenting considerations when playing, from my own experiences when things did not go according to plan.
The Importance of Monkeys
Let’s define a monkey as one who gets up to mischief, giggles uncontrollably, jumps around like they are out of control, and doesn’t communicate with much sense other than ohhh’s and ahhh’s. At many stages of childhood, or indeed adulthood, you may find your children resemble monkeys. If it’s true that most people can be monkeys at various stages of life, then it must also be true that the characteristics are important.
Acting childish and mischievous can help lighten the mood, release endorphins through laughter and physical activity, and offers opportunities for connecting with others involved in the antics. It’s probably a strong reason why kids can seem to spark connections with strangers when set free into various monkey-inspired activities such as soft plays and discos.
Monkey Making Ideas
We can see above that being a monkey works in enhancing our children’s lives. Below I offer some tips to bring this side of you out if it doesn’t come naturally to you. It’s also important to offer a serious side of ourselves too, so this post is not promoting being a monkey around your children 24/7.
There is something about being outdoors, even in a seemingly boring big field. Kids love being chased, and it’s funny to chase them. Once you catch them you can up the laughter volume further by tickling, doing silly voices or lifting your children. Kids love this. They sometimes also love doing this activity right before bedtime when you’re less up for playing along… So my first tip is to get outdoors more.
On that note about tickling, just having a ‘tickling bed’ or ‘tickle monster’, or anything with the word tickle in sets the tone for monkey behaviour to follow. The aim of gentle parenting is to listen to our children and also encourage body autonomy (respecting an individual’s rights and choices regarding their own bodies). Therefore if you do take the strategy of doing a tickling activity, please ensure:
1. that there is a bright eyed face eager to do this activity. If they seem upset that you want to tickle them, respect that they have a right not to be tickled.
2. If while tickling, their mood seems to change, you should stop the activity. Never say “ok I’ll stop…” and then start again, as this can break trust that when you say something you mean it. It also teaches body autonomy, that when your child says no they should expect the ‘no’ to be respected, no matter who that no is said to.
Kids love it when you play funny roles together. You can be a giant stomping round the house shouting “Fee, Fi, Fo Fum!”, and then switch characters. You can be scary giants or loving giants. There are so many options for creative play that you can do with choosing some funny roles. Remember to let your kids choose some too.
Similar to the outdoor based activities, it can be great fun to play with water. Get that hosepipe out and do a hose down on a summer’s day. You may want to get a little paddling pool and see if they want to splash around with that. Let them throw a bucket of water over your head when you ‘fall asleep’. They may want the favour returned… The possibilities are endless with something as cheap as water.
Connecting with our children may be a challenge sometimes when we’re bogged down with the day to day challenge of gently raising our children. However, adding a bit of fun and laughter to the day may help improve your connections and memories with your children.