I think most schools are back in session now (man, what took some of you so long?).
Now I want you to look at the weekly schedule you’ve set up for your kids and yourself (you’re probably the chauffeur right?) and ask, have I scheduled time for my kids to just play?
Not play organized sports or play the piano or play for 4 minutes before 3 hours of dance. I mean, just creative, wild, energetic, zip down the slide, jump from the monkey bars, dig in the dirt, build things from sticks free play.
Schedule it. (I know. I’m bossy today.) And there’s a really good reason for it. Because research is showing us that time on the playground is essential for brain development. Which is why I joined Playworld Systems (a US manufacturer of playground equipment) to save play.
There is science behind this. And because I’ve always dreamed of being an 8th grade science teacher (well, that or an Olympic ice skater), I’ll explain.
According to a recent piece on NPR, research shows that play actually changes the connections of neurons in the front of the brain and these changes play an important role in a child’s ability to interact with people in positive ways, problem solve and even get better grades.
“In one study, researchers found that the best predictor of academic performance in eighth grade was a child’s social skills in third grade.” And that’s not all. “Countries where they actually have more recess tend to have higher academic performance than countries where recess is less,” said Sergio Pellis, a Canadian researcher.
Which means 15 minutes of recess (the norm is some American schools) doesn’t really cut it.
Now there are some really cool playgrounds out there. Look at this one in Berkeley (of course) where kids can hammer, paint, saw and be free.
Courtesy: David Gilkey/NPR
You can seek out great playgrounds just about anywhere – a place where kids can have unstructured fun, letting their imaginations and creativity run free.
The wonderful thing about free play is that it is actually free. Unlike those classes where your kids learn how to act out Shakespearian plays backwards in the language of Quechua.
And free is awesome for your budget.
Now I know you like that child brain development thing and that no money thing sounds fabulous too but at this point, you might be jealous. Hey, why should my little Sally get all the fun and I’m still just the chauffeur around here?!
Turns out play is important for adults too.
It helps keep our minds sharp, connected in the world, bonded to our loved ones and well, happy. So go outside. Do something just for you, whatever sounds fun. I mean, don’t rob banks. That will get you thrown in jail, which is totally the opposite of fun.
But go out and play.
You can even swing from the monkey bars to show your kids how it’s done.
That if the PTA president at your kids’ new school shows you 10 clipboards and says, “Sign up to volunteer for whatever you like!” and you respond, “Where is the clipboard for nothing? Because I would really like to sign up for nothing” – she will not think it’s funny. At all.
That if you put up bulletin boards in your kids’ room, they will basically put nothing on them…
But they will pin a bunch of stuff to their walls instead…
That I haven’t brought my kids to the dentist for over a year and the last dentist was super shady. He didn’t do a lot of teeth cleaning. He mostly did magic tricks. So this time I’m going to bring them to someone who is skilled in dentistry rather than card tricks. It’s just a different way to go.
That if you try to watch the MTV awards, you won’t know what station they are on. Once you find the station, you won’t believe how old you are. The next night, the Emmy’s will make you feel less old but very unattractive. Takeaway: awards shows are only for when your self esteem is at an all time high.
That if you take your tween girls into a Justice store thinking you are going to quickly return something, you will become a hostage victim and will have little chance of leaving without buying something for your tween captors.
That if you leave your 4-year-old twins alone in a room, they will cut each other’s hair. This is what Chase snipped off Harlowe’s head…
On the bright side, my 4-year-old son did a pretty good job of cutting cool layers for his sister…
(And seeing is overrated anyway.)
That if your 4-year-old son begs and begs for you to cut off the back straps of his flip flops and you know you shouldn’t do it but you still do because he seems really certain - that he will never wear his flip flops again because now they “don’t feel right.”
No matter how many times you tell your 15-month-old son just to sit back and relax for a minute, he totally won’t.
That when your child says, “I’m going to leave out that game (with a million small pieces) so I can’t play with it later” – that is ALWAYS code for “I don’t plan on playing this again but you can just put it away after I go to bed.”
I need a parenting manual. Seriously, where do I get one of those?
I know my older daughter Dylan never wanted to move to Florida. I could tell because she did subtle things like leave a note every night by my bedside saying, “PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME MOVE.” And there were a lot of tears.
We promised her swimming, new friends, an adventure, a summer that never ends!
She responded by saying that sledding was the passion of her life.
I honestly thought that once we got into the groove of the sunshine state (which by the way, they are totally not kidding about because the sun here is fierce) that she would be happy. She was in 3rd grade. She’d be fine. Kids are resilient. Kids go with the flow!
There was no flow. She cried about missing her best friend and at one point, through streams of tears said, “But what about Lucas!” Who the hell was Lucas (name has been changed to protect some boy I never heard of), I thought? Apparently he had been in her class in New York for the last two years and now his absence was crushing.
Her school (although academically rigorous) was too big with very short recesses, strict rules and less focus on the arts than her New York school. Both my daughters had great teachers but somehow, Dylan’s spirit was wilting.
I tried to honor her feelings. I tried to tell her to be brave and keep moving forward. Sometimes in frustration, I told her to be more grateful for all the wonderful things in her life. Sometimes I just hugged her through my own tears because I honestly had no words. What was I supposed to say, I wondered?
So this year I moved Dylan and her younger sister Summer to a much smaller charter school. With no bus service, I’m doing a lot more driving and I’m pretty convinced that Florida is the most gigantic state ever. Like way bigger than Texas. I’m sure of it.
I could barely breathe the first day of school as I waited to find out how it all went.
And at the end of the day, I got a “good” from Dylan. By the end of the week, we were still in the good territory and she said her teacher was very nice. This was promising indeed.
Then we went to the beach. It was a gorgeous day and we found a great parking spot. We splashed into the water with our boogie boards where it quickly became clear that the jellyfish were out in full force.
After a young girl was stung, we quickly retreated to the shore where Dylan downward spiraled into a pit of misery about not being able to swim, missing New York, her friends, her old school and of course sledding.
Damn you jellyfish.
Of course, she has recovered. And her second week of school seems to be going well.
I still can’t quite exhale.
I only hope that someday when she faces tough challenges in life she’ll be able to say, “My parents made me move to Florida. And it was really hard. But now I know I can survive anything.”
I’m guessing she’ll be saying it from her apartment in New York.
Kelcey sent her husband Rick this email…
Rick, I was thinking about a couple things. I love when you make the bed! And I love the way one corner always touches the floor. It brings me back to the days of my asymmetrical haircut in high school.
I don’t know what you are talking about.
Me: Photo attached. See how one corner lovingly grazes the floor?
I think it looks great. And a lot of husbands don’t make beds.
True. And lots of women don’t look as radiant in red as I do – so let’s call it even.
Good point. Was there anything else more pressing you wanted to discuss?
There’s the issue of how much I love that Pina Colada song. You know, the one that goes, “If you like Pina Coladas, getting caught in the rain. If you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain.”
I see you’re still listening to that 70′s station in the car.
It’s funny that such a sweet song is really about two people trying to cheat on each other. They both place personal ads for gosh sakes. That takes some effort.
Maybe they needed to go through all that to find each other again.
I’m so glad that you feel that way because I just placed a personal ad.
Fantastic! Keep me posted on any developments. Anything else we need to talk about?
I really really really want to go to Italy. We haven’t been since Dylan and Summer were little and I just need some Europe.
That would amazing. Let’s price it out!
I did! It’s about a million dollars for flights and lodging.
Does that include our checked bags?
So we’ll just get Italian food this weekend instead?
Yeah, that sounds good. Gotta run. Xo
Rick: Love you.
My 7 and 9 year old really really like clothes. Like when their younger cousin gave us hand-me-downs (sizes 4T, 5T & 6) for my youngest daughter, the older girls snatched them up and started creating all kinds of crazy outfits.
Outfits that required me to say things like, “You’re too young to wear a half shirt. In fact, never wear a half shirt.”
(I guess Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel has some competition when it comes to wearing size 4T.)
They also love new clothes – mostly from the cult of Justice. My daughters can not walk by that place in the mall without being lured in by some kind of sparkly magnetic force. The bonus? I make my girls buy clothes is their actual size. The downside? I have to pay money.
So I was pretty intrigued to find out about MoxieJean. Have you ever heard of this site? It is awesome. And you know I don’t use the word lightly. Awesome is used for things like finding out Milli Vanilli is putting out a new album. That’s the kind of threshold I’m talking about.
MoxieJean is an upscale resale site for kids that features cool brands like Juicy, Justice, Ralph Lauren, Mini Boden, Gap, Hanna Andersson and much more. Because the items are preowned, they are about 75% off. But this stuff looks completely new.
There’s no picking through racks. You can go on the site and shop for your kids like any other website but it’s soooo much cheaper.
Here’s how the girls felt when they opened the box. See if you can detect any enthusiasm…
MoxieJean gave me a $35 gift card and I spent $20 of my own money. And we ended up with 5 items that my girls love. Like LOVE.
Dylan and Summer did a mini fashion show…
Ah… that last photo brings me back to the days of Barbizon Modeling School when I had great dreams of being the first 5′ 3″ supermodel. It’s so weird that never panned out.
None of these clothes looks preowned. In fact, some still had the tags. Even cooler, you can make money or credit towards future purchases by sending your own kids clothes to be sold on the site. (Just make sure they are in excellent like-new condition.)
So ready to do some back to school shopping? Visit MoxieJean. Use the coupon code LOOK4LESS19 and get $10 of Moxie Money for every $50 you spend. (Or $25 for every $100 you spend.)
Also enter our giveaway!
This year, the average family will spend a hefty $355 on back to school clothes. So we’re giving away a MoxieJean Back to School Wardrobe gift card for $177.50 – the winner will be able to get a full back to school wardrobe for HALF of what it would cost new!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Moxie Jean. The opinions and text are all mine.