Play Your Way – The Bluey Conundrum

by Elowen
Play Your Way – The Bluey Conundrum

I, like literally millions of other parents, have watched all episodes of Bluey with my daughter. Bingo is by her favourite character, as they’re both gentle sweethearts. Bluey has become an absolute phenomenon, with ratings in Australia of over 12.7 million for certain episodes, and a mind-blowing 3.8 billion minutes of the show streamed online! I’ve read firsthand accounts from parents all over the world that their children are starting to speak with an Australian accent! I love it, I’m so happy that we’re sharing a little bit of Australia with the rest of the world, especially one that is so poignant and joyful. Yes, I’ve cried whilst watching Bluey. A lot.

Sometimes after we’ve watched an episode, my daughter will want to play the game that Bingo and Bluey were playing, and this is again something that I’ve seen many parents talk about online. I’ve also seen many parents say, half joking, half serious, that Bandit (Bluey’s dad), is setting unrealistic expectations, and they’re not wrong.

Bandit is the primary carer in the Bluey household, he’s a stay-at-home dad as well as still working as an archaeologist, and he seems to be at the complete disposal of his little girls. He almost never says no to whatever game they want to play; he nearly always joins in with 100% conviction.

How, on Earth, could the average parent live up to that?! Firstly, you can’t, so don’t try, and don’t feel bad about it, either! Secondly, you shouldn’t be comparing yourself to other parents – there’s even a Bluey episode about that, it’s called Baby Race.

We only have so many hours in a day, and yet we also have only so many hours of our little ones still being little! Of them wanting to play like little kids with us! Neither my mother nor my husband’s parents actually played with us as children, we grew up in the ‘go outside and play’ era, or at least ‘go play in your room’, and neither he nor I wanted that for our daughter.

I love to do activities with my daughter, and play video games, and go for walks, and take her places, and watch movies… but I don’t, and nor did I even as a child, enjoy ‘imaginative play’. But, but, but, you’re a writer! You love fantasy novels! And video games! That’s all imaginative! Yeah, but I don’t like ‘playing pretend’. Even when I was little, when I played with my Barbies, which I did, a lot, I spent my time dressing and styling them. I didn’t act out little scenarios or dramas like so many kids do. It’s just not the way I’m made.

So when my little girl first wanted to play Barbies or Sylvanian Families with me, or games from Bluey, I felt super awkward and out of my comfort zone. I’d play for a little bit with her directing the play, but I wasn’t enjoying myself and I don’t think I was a great play companion for her, either.

My husband, who is wise, understanding and far more emotionally intelligent than I am (I’m not dissing myself, here, I have many wonderful qualities, but high ‘E.Q. isn’t one of them), told me not to put so much pressure on myself and if I didn’t like imaginative play then to just play other ways with our girl. He, on the other hand, is very good at jumping right in with playing pretend, and watching the two of them is so joyful!

With that pressure off, and after seeing how much fun the two of them were having, I learned a few things, and saw ways I could join in that I too would enjoy. I still don’t like overly dramatic imaginative play, but I have found I have a penchant for voicing Sylvanian Family characters who are old, fancy, or drunk, or any combination of the above, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun!

So if you find yourself in a similar position with your kids, that they want to play in ways that are out of your comfort zone, whether that be imaginative play, sports, video games, crafting things, whatever, I hope you both go easy on yourself, but I also hope you try to participate in whatever way you can whilst still enjoying yourself. Don’t forget that playing with your children is a chance for you to play again! How long had it been since you’d just played and been ridiculous before playing with your kids? Let’s not miss the opportunity, even if we can only squeeze in a short play between all the other stuff we have to do in a day, because our babies will be grown up before we know it, and then we’ll have to wait ages until they have babies before we play like that again. Now I’m going to go cry again, ha ha!

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