Ok, so I haven't been a mom for very long. But it doesn't take very long to learn that our children want our attention. They want to be held, hugged, kissed, talked to, tickled, and played with. But for us moms, it's easy to get bogged down with other things to do. And while a simple solution may be to plop our children in front of a television screen, leave them alone in their car seats, or hand them off to the nanny, I say get down and PLAY!
"...Do not trivialize the act of playing with children for you will be clashing against their natures and the dispositions upon which they were created. Instead, participate with them in their games. Play with them and have fun with them to the point that they love you, enjoy your company and heed your advice and guidance." --'Abdus-Salaam bin 'Abdillah As-Sulaymaan from his book, Raising Children in Light of the Qur'aan and Sunnah.
The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, was a very busy man. He was a Prophet, a teacher, an imam, a community leader, a husband, a father, and so much more, mashaAllah. Yet even he made time to play with children.
Abu Hurairah said: "The Messenger of Allah would stick his tongue out to Al-Husayn bin 'Alee, so the boy would see the redness of his tongue and become ecstatic." --Sahih of Ibn Hibbaan
'Umar said: "I saw the Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn on the shoulders of the Prophet, so I said, 'What an excellent steed you two have below you.' And the Messenger of Allah said, 'And what excellent riders they are!'" --Al-Haithamee
MashaAllah, what a beautiful sunnah playing with children is and what power it can have in building our child's affections and trust for us. Playtime can also be prime learning time for our children. For babies, playing simple games such as stacking blocks or rolling a ball around can help a child understand important concepts like cause and effect, and build essential skills like hand-eye coordination. For older children, games can be a fun way to teach moral values like tawakkul (trust in Allah), honesty, and sharing.
So the next time our child is flashing that wide, two-toothed grin, or tugging at our abaya for attention, let's just put what we're doing to the side for a few moments, get in touch with our inner child, and indulge in some quality playtime. Not only will our child be happier, but we just might be too.