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Expert tips and celebrity moms lead the way for family play this summer

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The Houston Family Examiner recently had the opportunity to follow up with Amy McCready, Founder, PositiveParentingSolutions.com and Member of the Active Family Project Play Council and ask her some questions about family play time. Find out how celebrity moms how they spent their Mother's Day in play as they shared them with the Active Family Project's Facebook page and find out what expert advice on how we can all have family play.

Lala Anthony: Going rock climbing to celebrate Active Family Project's National Family Playdate! #sponsored

Angie Harmon: Out playing freeze tag with our cousins! How are you celebrating Active Family Project's National Family Playdate??#sponsored

Jennie Finch: Playing in the park for Active Family Project's National Family Playdate! Find out places to play near you on http://www.activefamilyproject.com/ #sponsored

Amy shared with me some positive parenting tips in this interview.

What are some quick and easy ways to spend time together as a family playing?

The quickest and easiest way to play with your kids is to simply follow their lead and get into their world. If they are playing with blocks on the floor or shooting hoops in the driveway, join them. The key to success is making play part of your daily and weekly routines – not something that only happens on rare or special occasions. Schedule one-on-one playtime each day with your kids - even just 10 or 15 minutes - and you'll see them beam with joy. Be sure to schedule family playdates on weekends to remind yourselves how much fun you have together as a family.

With summer just around the corner what are some tried and true as well as unique ideas for family play?

Schedule things like backyard campouts, beach days (with a sandbox and kiddie pool if you’re inland) and lemonade stands. Work with your kids to create a Summer Activity Jar. Encourage your kids to write their ideas for summer fun activities and put them in a jar they decorate. Make sure the activities are free (or fall into an agreed price range) and doable on a whim. Have each child write the same amount of activities so there are just enough to take you through the summer. Each week, day, or whenever your schedule permits, take turns choosing an activity for summer fun. For ideas for summer activities in your area, check out the Active Family Project Activity Finder (http://www.activefamilyproject.com/activity-finder/Index.aspx)

One way I like to change things up and get the family playing together is to move toys around and use different ones at different times of the year. What tips do you have to make old toys and games new again?

Rotating toys weekly, monthly or seasonally helps kids appreciate the toys they have and reduces the sense of "overwhelm" from too much stuff. While it sounds counterintuitive, when kids have too many options for play, they bounce from one thing to the next and eventually get bored.

By limiting the available toys, kids will become more deeply engaged in what they're playing with at the time and they'll create new ways to play with their "old" toys making the play even more fun. Clean up will also go more smoothly as there aren't as many toys to pick up!

Why is it so important for families to play together?

Playing WITH our kids builds emotional connections and fills their hard-wired need for our positive attention. As parents, we spend much of the day telling kids what to do or not do…which makes the situation ripe for power struggles. Adding intentional time to play each day - even just 10 or 15 minutes – fosters emotional connections and actually makes kids more cooperative at other times of the day since it eliminates the need for negative attention-seeking behaviors. I call play the “secret sauce” for better behaved kids! While we still have to check off our to-do lists, scheduling some playtime into each day will work wonders for happier and more cooperative kids!

Join the Active Family Project on Facebook for even more information about being active and play time with your family.

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