Setting Aside Playtime During Travel

Playtime away from home

Bella is 4 1/2, and at home she plays by herself and on her own constantly. She loves to spend hours outside and inside drawing, digging in the dirt, searching for critters, and playing with her stuffed animals.

When we travel, I find she needs that no matter how entertained she is. In fact, the more we do, the more I see her search for quiet times to be alone after. She seems to decompress this way, much like an adult reads or watches TV to relax.

Children need to play for this same feeling.

Seeing this happen with Bella so often, I’ve learned to bring some of her most beloved animals with us on trips, then to set up a spot to get away from any distractions. If at all possible, we try to allow her some quiet time to be alone and replay her day and emotions with her animals acting it out. She doesn’t mind if we’re close by, as long as we don’t interrupt or ask questions.

Since Bella’s been in play therapy for nearly 2 years now, our understanding of how important play is has vastly changed. We would have never thought about this time for her before. Play is crucial to education, well being, and emotional stability in children. It’s their way of working things out and feeling secure.

There are obviously some times that we aren’t able to do this. Bella also has to learn that some days are busy, some get overwhelmed with things we all simply have to deal with. Yet carving out that time for play is important to us – and we see the difference it makes in her when she’s able to.

Now if only we could channel that same energy and emotion into picking up her toys after.


Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working MomsStill Standing MagazineShe Reads TruthThe New York Times, and The Huffington Post. Smaller glimpses into her day are on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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