Let Go, And Go With It


One of the most powerful, inspiring, and helpful books I’ve read in the past year is Amanda Blake Soule’s the creative family.  Chock-full of ideas and brimming with beauty and delight, it has become a sort of guide book for the way I want our family to approach creating.  We’ve got a long way to go, of course, but this book is an endless supply of inspiration.  I’m sure I’ll reference it many times here at Simple Kids.

In Chapter Seven, “Exploring Through Nature”, Amanda describes the sweet wonder of creating fairy houses with your children.  I was captivated by this magical and imaginative idea, and so Dacey and I began working on creating fairy houses last summer when she was three.  I had an idea in my mind of what I wanted the fairy house to look like, but her ideas always took a very different, definitely less constructed path.  I found I had to step back and remind myself why it was we were building fairy houses, and it wasn’t so we could be featured in a minature version of Town&Country magazine.

A few weeks ago when the weather turned warm and wildflowers began springing up in our yard, Dacey and I were enjoying some quiet play time in the backyard.  I can’t remember who it was that first suggested that we build our first fairy house of the season, but we were soon hard at work collecting our materials – sticks, handfuls of grass, the odd pinecone here and there, and lots and lots of flowers.  In no time at all, Dacey was more concerned with her wildflower harvest than with the building of a fairy house, and once again I found I had to make the mindful choice to just step back and follow her playful lead.

Eventually, Dacey decided that what “Taluah” (our resident backyard fairy) would want more than a house would be a little garden.  This meant, of course, grabbing a shovel and digging up earth.  In my grown-up mind, this was a good start on a flower garden.  What I didn’t foresee was Dacey deciding to completely bury the flowers under the mound of dirt she dug up.  In her mind, that was planting flowers and that was precisely what she intended to do for Taluah, despite my gentle protests and attempts to persuade her otherwise.


After the flowers were “planted” and we had gone inside and thoughts and talk of Taluah were put away until another day, I thought about how often I want to step in and direct my daughter’s imaginative play.  Is it the dormant teacher in me awakening to see the lesson plan is not being followed?  Maybe it’s the big sister within who never really recovered from being so bossy in play.  Regardless of the reason, the urge to insist on doing things the “right way” in play is something I have to intentionally resist.

It’s just play.  It’s just for fun.  Playing is learning.

These are mantras I find myself repeating.  Hopefully one day, the stepping back and letting go will be my first response.  In my heart I know that when it comes to play, the most important rule to be heeded is to just go with it.

Am I alone in my bossy tendencies?  Anyone else have to be reminded to let go and go with the flow?  Or perhaps you can share some gentle pointers for the rest of us on how to step back and let play unfold in a wonderfully organic way.  I would love to hear your thoughts!

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  1. This is a bit off-topic, or maybe it isn’t. I love how she’s wearing her flip-flops. 🙂

    Marla Taviano’s last blog post..swirly saturday (compassion edition)

  2. I definitely find myself wanting to direct my daughter in play. I hear her sometimes being bossy to her friends, telling them how they’re supposed to play with her (she’s the oldest, of course, as am I), and I really don’t want her picking up more clues from me. So thank you for the reminder to watch it with her! It really is just play, and no one’s keeping score. They have their whole life to follow directions… Let’s let them explore their creativity.

    • @Tsh, I’ve also overheard Dacey “directing” her friends in play, especially when that friend is her younger sister! Something about being the oldest girl, I think, seems to make bossiness come so naturally . . .

  3. I am also guilty of trying to control too often. Some of our best times are when I can step back and let go of my expectations. I need constant reminders.

    Brigid’s last blog post..come again another day

  4. Definitely not alone!!! Just ask my little sister how bossy I was as a child! LOL And I already find myself budding into Nate’s play at times. I too have to remind myself to step back and let him take the lead. He is not really into the imaginative play stage yet, but he does have definite opinions about what he likes to do and they don’t always mesh with mine!

    Wanted to let you know that I am soooooo excited to see you writing at Simple Kids! I know you will have me hanging on your every word 🙂

    Jen’s last blog post..Fix, Freeze, Feast and Toddler Firsts

    • @Jen, Thanks for the kind words. And yes, if Nate is anything like AJ when it comes to playing, there are definitely some firm opinions being formed there already!

  5. No, definitely not alone…I struggle with this, too! Great post, good things to think about as a Mom of four with wild imaginations. 🙂

    Becky’s last blog post..Homeschooling Update

  6. Love that reminder, Megan. I actually took a step back last night and observed my son playing with a couple of friends in our backyard. Anna-Claire found a spider/web and the boys quickly took over (at age 3 1/2 and 4) and stepped in to “solve the problem” in the playhouse. The next thing I knew they had a “Doodle Pro” out and were drawing directions of how they were going get into the playhouse and take care of the situation (I heard something like…we’ll take a right here and…). Pretty humorous seeing as my son’s playhouse is one room. 🙂
    The past couple of weeks, he has also made several homes for Roly-Poly families and is quite gentle with them.
    Sometimes, I do find myself kind of “directing” and that may be the teacher in me as well. I notice when playtime is not directed me it seems much less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone involved! 🙂

    • @Becky – I’m sure with four unique imaginations at work, playtime definitely takes a direction of its own!

      @Jennifer B., the “directions” on the Doodle Pro is TOO CUTE! Very elaborate for this age!

  7. I also have to remind myself to just let my daughter play. I feel it’s the teacher in me, at least if it seems to be something about nature. And I also wonder if my actions make my daughter more bossy when she plays, or if she comes by that naturally. This is a great post. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  8. My son loves to play soldiers and fights and Transformers — none of which are things I really love to hear about. It is really hard to just let him play and not intervene and suggest more gentle topics for play. As I have listened and talked with him, I have discovered that he is exploring ideas of power, good and evil, fair play, and consequences.
    I am the youngest, so I tend to hear myself saying, “Don’t boss your brother! Let him join in and add things, too” more than anything else.

    jill’s last blog post..What You Need to Know Before You Breastfeed: Newly Exposed Skin Hurts

    • @Lona – I think some of it does come by nature/personality/temperment, and some of it from our influence on them. I will say that my younger daughter who is 20 months is also pretty bossy in her own way, which is no surprise considering how much her big sister bosses her around.

      @jill, my next younger sister often takes up the plight of my younger daughter, making sure she doesn’t get overlooked or bossed around too much!

  9. I am very quilty of this! I have to remind myself daily of letting my kids do their thing their way. I’ve found in the past when I “TOOK OVER” that the fun would soon be lost. It’s not always easy to sit back when they are doing something that just doesn’t make sense but this is all part of learning.

    Great post!

    Bonnie’s last blog post..Friday Fill-Ins

  10. “just go with it”
    SO true! Thanks for this reminder Megan.

    Thanks for the book link, too…I’m off to check it out.

    Love the pictures! Please keep them coming!

    • @Bonnie, goodness knows I “take over” on plenty of things throughout the day! I try to remember that play – even and especially silly play! – is all part of learning and that helps me to just step back and let it go.

      @Paige, you would LOVE the creative family! I highly, highly recommend it!

  11. Ooo, does this one hit home. I love the new look and Megan, congrats! I know you’re gonna do a great job simple-ing it up for the kids!

    emily’s last blog post..spring things to chat about

  12. It is a constant battle in my world. I have an idea in my head how I want everything to be, everything to look, everything to go… Having 3 little boys has caused me (over and over and over again) to sit back and remind myself that I need to let it go. I’m glad to hear I’m not alone. 🙂

    Heidi @ Mt Hope’s last blog post..Friends

  13. Hi! This is a great reminder for me. Thanks!

    Also, I tried to subscribe via the link on your page, and am getting an error. Can you check it and let me know if you can figure out what is wrong? I’d love to read more posts, but i am not an RSS or Twitter kind of person. Thanks a million!

  14. Great post. And a great reminder.

    • @wesleyjeanne, @jen – thanks for stopping by!

      We are looking into the email link problems. Hope to have it up and working soon!

  15. I have a hard time just being a part of the play with my son. Although I realize that when I just let go and get into the play I have a lot more fun and find activities less exhausting

    LaToya’s last blog post..Taking Some Time to Breathe

    • @LaToya, you know what? that is such a great point. Play can get very exhausting when I am trying to take control and be the director. It’s actually a LOT more fun for me when I just let go and get silly and do things that make no sense in my “grown-up” mind. Fantastic insight!

  16. This is all so exciting Megan, see I had a good feeling about you! Congrats and blessings.
    I feel like the old mamma on some of these blogs, now that my kids are older and all… but it is so refreshing and heartwarming to see such a positive parenting approach. I remember feeling like I was the only lonely sole at the beach or on the ravine path looking for signs of spring or collecting craft bits while all the other moms in suburbia were at the mall or something.
    Letting kids “play” is not really about control , but it sure can mess up a photo idea or intention. I had to apply this same discipline when they started making cookies or helping me decorate for holidays etc. I tried to give myself credit for at least being aware of all the different lessons learned or observed and trusting that if I messed up I’d certainly get many more chances !

    deb’s last blog post..WHEN QUIET NEEDS SONG

    • @deb, I think you are so right. My sister teaches art and she is all the time trying to instill in her students the skill of looking for “happy accidents” – those times where the plan gets messed up (for whatever reason) and you have to find a way to work through the problem. Oftentimes, the solution to the problem makes the project better (and more interesting!) than it started out to be!

  17. Well I’m not really there yet with Jayci – but I am positive that will be a struggle for me . . . thanks for the reminder! 🙂 you rock girl!

    Becca’s last blog post..I Heart Hats

  18. In no time at all, you are gonna be there, mama!

  19. We tried the fairy houses and my three-year-old Evelyn just wanted to collect stuff to make the house and cart it around on her tricycle. We never got to actual building and when I tried to start she put the material back on her trike. She’s going to make a great contractor one day.

    Wilhelmina’s last blog post..Things I Got Right Today

  20. I love “The Creative Family” and frequently think of Amanda’s words when my kids begin to get really dirty. She says she sees this as a sign of good play. So, I find myself letting go and watching them enjoy a little freedom.

    Erin’s last blog post..Weekend Snapshots


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