Shawn Ledington Fink is the mother of twin seven year old girls, Awesomely Awake blogger, and the author of a new eBook, The Playful Family: Simple and Fun Ways to Connect and Engage as a Family. She joins us today to share some tips for being more playful with our kids.
***Note: Readers will have a chance to win a copy of her eBook at the end of this interview.***
JEAN: In your bio, you say, “Motherhood set [your] creative spirit on fire.” I would love to hear more! What does it mean to be Awesomely Awake and why did you start this blog?
SHAWN: First, let me start by saying thank you to you, Jean. You and I became fellow bloggers around the same time years ago—back when I was blogging on a different site. You have inspired so much of the artful experiences we've had at home.
But, to answer your question ... Being Awesomely Awake simply means to remain open and engaged to the everyday moments of parenting.
My husband and I have a lovely child-led, parent-led relationship with our twin daughters that allows us to be inspired by our children and visa versa. They lead us on some amazing, creative adventures with their endless imagination, curiosity and risk-taking. I learn from them daily. But, at the same time, I enjoy pushing them to their edge as well by encouraging them to think outside the box, wonder and create new ideas from old ones.
JEAN: Shawn, I really enjoyed reading your eBook, The Playful Family, on making play (and a playful spirit) a part of parenting. It’s a message that I needed and that I think many families need. What led you to write your e-book?
SHAWN: I grew up an only child until I turned 17. There wasn't much of any family connections in our family. I did my thing. My parents did theirs. It was a very serious household. It was fine but I want something different for my children.
I want a playful, engaged atmosphere.
I want traditions and rituals.
I want meaningful everyday experiences.
Playing together and connecting is so important but it can get lost in a day of rushing around and busy schedules especially as our children grow older and more independent. As a busy working mom—I also have a full-time job—I have always made playtime more important than work time. I'm hoping to teach my children that living is just as important as earning a living.
This book will hopefully help other busy parents—working or not—find new and exciting ways to be a happier, healthier family everyday, not just on special occassions. Everyday has a chance at being Awesome. Everyday has so much potential and possibility. I just hope the book opens up those experiences for other families as it has for ours.
JEAN: What are your best tips for parents who want to be more playful and lighthearted in their interactions with their kids (but maybe don’t know where to start)?
SHAWN: Say No —Get rid of your own agendas. This isn't about you anymore. It's also not about who has the cleanest house either.
Make memories —Try to make every day memorable. The book gives tons of ideas for how to do this, by the way.
Take care of you —Make sure your own needs and wants are fulfilled so that you have the energy and willingness to be more playful.
Let children lead —Follow your child's interest and use that to spark your own imagination on that topic. Learn together, grow together.
JEAN: I’d love to hear about your favorite parenting books and other sources of inspiration! Will you share what’s on your bookshelf?
SHAWN: Well, I have a whole nightstand of inspiration. My well often runs low and I need to just pop in there for a dose of energy, love or balance.
I can often be found reading:
- Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller
- Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali
- Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach
- Life is a Verb by Patti Digh
- The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary
These books help me stay in the moment and remind me to live for this moment that I'm in with my children and as a writer.
JEAN: I’ve read (and loved) Patti Digh’s book, but not any of the others. I can’t wait to check them out! Thanks. Anything else you’d like to add?
SHAWN: I've been amazed by the number of mothers and fathers who have reached out to me since I published The Playful Family—all confessing that playing with their children is often something they dread. I have assured them that this book is intended to encourage them with new and refreshing ideas but never make them feel guilty.
Some times, we just aren't in the mood to play. But, much like the old adage about sleep ... the more you play, the more you'll play.
Plus, it just makes the days better!
JEAN: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Shawn!
You can read Shawn’s blog, Awesomely Awake (I like her list of 25 Ways to Stay Calm as a Parent), follow her on facebook or pinterest, or purchase her eBook, The Playful Family. Shawn is also running a "creativity boosting" eWorkshop beginning on October 1st and it is currently pay what you can.
Readers who leave a comment to this blog post by 11:59pm EST Saturday, September 16th will be entered into a giveaway to win a PDF copy of Shawn’s eBook, The Playful Family: Simple and Fun Ways to Connect and Engage as a Family. Winner will be chosen by random number generator and announced here on Sunday. Giveaway open to readers everywhere.
Giveaway now closed.
The random number generator gave me #38, so Alma wins The Playful Family eBook. Congrats, Alma!
That book looks like something I would love to read. I love to play with my kids but sometimes I need to find new ways to keep them busy. I will surely check out her own reading list. Great giveaway!