Play matters, but it doesn’t have to be #instagrammable


I am all for being passionate about ANYTHING you do in life, from mindfully dicing seventeen onions, to studying for your doctorate, to getting up and putting on the clothes you LIKE each day!

Where there is passion, there is hope, drive and ultimately (hopefully) joy in the end result.

Passion doesn’t always come with a smooth course.  Especially when it comes to parenting. It also doesn’t have to be artfully curated to be genuine.

I love perusing Pinterest, Instagram and asking my friends for ideas on ways to keep my toddlers active and learning.

I make tape obstacle courses, forts and DIYs for them because I look at a piece of cardboard or plywood and my brain takes a runaway train to crafting town.

I don’t post pictures of everything I try. Most of what I try ends up as a pinfail, in my children’s’ stomachs, or shredded and shoved into the fridge produce drawer by tiny hands


But I do try, because I enjoy it.


But sometimes I don’t try and I enjoy that too.


We can all be passionate, but we don’t have to follow any rules about HOW we accomplish that.


I’m talking about those perfect pictures of a bright quilt on the sun-drenched grass with tidy little colourful bins set up with carefully selected toys and textures for each child.

This pre-play shot looks inviting and serene and the premise in which all learning and fun will take place. Along with these images we see the token hashtags #playmatters #invitationtoplay.



There is nothing wrong with setting up some crafts and activities.

I enjoy doing something like this for my kids as much as the next crafty mom. But for days when I’m not crafty, I need to remember that I don’t need a pretty image and handmade project, rather my kids don’t need it, to learn and discover.

Parental intervention combined with Pinterest won’t make my children wiser, more playful, or more inventive.


When I told my husband about the miraculous modern innovation called a sensory bin he burst my ‘this-is-what-moms-do-to-be-good-moms’ bubble and said, ‘Honey, it’s called a sandbox and a bathtub.’


What is the original ‘invitation to play’?

The word “yes”.

I just need to stop saying no.


So when my kids grab at the bag of oatmeal, I give them a measuring cup and bowl and let them mess up my floor. When they grab handfuls of leaves and sticks on their way into the door give them a bucket, I give them some glue and paper.


I need to follow their lead. Let them explore independently. Be okay with the messes.


And let’s promise each other that if we use the hashtags #playmatters #invitationtoplay of a neat activity or craft that we will follow it up with pictures of the post-play aftermath. Which, if it’s like in my house, it ends up with a 2.5 year-old in crying in time out for repeatedly dumping oatmeal down your vent and a 1.5 year old eating the pile of dust and oatmeal you are frantically sweeping up. #reallife

And if you want a mega list of ideas on activities to do with your kids and as a family, stop by here for 50+ ideas and a free printable


9 thoughts on “Play matters, but it doesn’t have to be #instagrammable”

  1. I love pictures of little ones playing and having a good time. It is amazing how happy kids can be with a little imagination and some dirt….thanks for the reminder we don’t need to go over board ‘creating fun’.

  2. I’m not going to lie… when I saw the oatmeal covered floor I thought “Oh no!” but then I stopped and thought about it… It’s an experience your kids will remember forever and a couple minutes of vacuuming and the mess is gone. I need to take a page out of your parenting book. I need to relax and have more (messy) fun with my kids. 🙂

  3. I’ve used those tags to find something to do, new ideas. My kids are usually in their PJs and pics are close ups so that hide the mess… I always think we all have 100% time and we all decide how to spend ours. We really enjoy #invitationtoplay and #playmatters, so we do those things. I am really pro empowering; I think we all should find things that work for us and not compare our ways to others so much.

  4. *Raises hand* I’m so guilty of this. I almost get anxious when I see Abby making a mess but then I look at her face and she is having so much fun. Parenting toddlers is so much harder in the winter…

  5. I always feel a bit inadequate when I see those pictures and hash tags. We never did those neat little bins – we’ve always just played with toys on the floor, or in the sandbox at at the table. Thanks for reminding me that it’s the play that matters, not how it’s set up. 🙂

  6. Why am I allergic to mess? Ugh. Thank you for always pointing out the bullsh-t that lurks online that I need to get past. Parenting is hard enough without worrying about how good my apartment looks in the background of a picture. A little oatmeal (or glitter, sand, dirt etc) never hurt anybody. Ok, the sand under my feet in the kitchen would gross me out FOREVER, but I will try and work on this. Thanks Shawna!


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