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  • Writer's pictureThe Farmer's Wife

Where Does A Farmer Go on Vacation? It's Not What You Think.

Where does a farmer go on vacation?

Apparently, to feed chickens.

Last week, we hit pause, took a few family days, drove 7 hours to St Louis, and saw some amazing things.

As you'll see below, we did a lot of exciting things... What was the most exciting thing for my kids? Feeding chickens.

I was equally disturbed and delighted by the addictive joy my kids gained from feeding those chickens.

Even though we brought the kids to a zoo with 14,000 animals, a children's museum with hundreds of interactive exhibits, two national parks, a historic landmark, and a science museum, what’s the only thing we couldn’t peel them away from?

The chickens.

Sure, feeding real live animals was my dream as a kid - I was always so disappointed with zoo visits because I wanted the animals to actually DO something. I didn’t come to watch you sleep Mr. Tiger.

As I watched the delight on my kids' faces, I was repeatedly struck with the same thought: “we literally own chickens… So why is this more fun?” Were these special Missouri chickens? Maybe it was the warmer weather? Maybe because these chickens are different colors than ours? Maybe it was the lack of mud? The cool exhibit? Either way - …Did we literally drive 7 hours to feed chickens?

I was pleased and horrified at the same moment.
Only after coming home, did I realize that *maybe* the biggest difference was … me.

You see - I didn’t really have anywhere to go while we fed those chickens.

I didn’t have a schedule to keep.

We didn’t have a to-do list to stress about.

I didn’t have a “hurry up and finish” tone like I do at home.

There were no dishes or laundry waiting for me.

For a moment, I actually *tried* to rush the kids around to see the other exhibits before we had to leave the museum -- and guess where we ended up? Yep. Back at the chickens.

The kids didn’t really care about the other exhibits. We were simply -there- with the chickens… with nowhere else better to be.

I wish I would have had a lawn chair. Just to see how long they would have lasted.

Eventually, we did have a schedule to keep which necessitated us leaving the chickens and heading to our next destination…

But how long could it have gone on? Noone knows.

Unfortunately, my to-do list doesn’t care very much about play.

I’m *slightly* addicted to crossing off the day's tasks and I don’t think I’ve ever put “open ended play” on my list.

It’s much too… open ended.

Approximately how long will it last? Will it take the place of something “more” important? What if it bumps into a task that really NEEDS to be done? What if I schedule open ended play and we miss something else? Now that would just be awful, wouldn’t it?

****Or maybe - it would be exactly the opposite.****

“According to research by Dr. Karyn Purvis, scientists have discovered that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain, unless it is done with PLAY, in which case it only takes 10 to 20 repetitions.” (Dr. Brad Johnson Instagram Post)

Just hang on a hot second with me here.

Do you realize what that means?

The difference between 20 and 400 is staggering. If we’re trying to teach our kids ANYTHING, why wouldn’t we want to make it that much more efficient for them (AND for us!?)

That’s a 95% DECREASE in mom-effort.

Do you realize the decrease in stress that would cause?

Do you realize how many more things we could learn if we could learn 95% more quickly?!

Do you realize how much LESS frustration there would be if kids could grab a concept that much more quickly?

In first grade, Chloe STRUGGLED with reading which would inevitably induce tears and a large amount of frustration. At that time, I used play as a “last” resort because nothing - and I mean NOTHING - else was working. I turned her reading sounds for each day into a pirate game with a heavy dose of competition and pirates' “booty” (Chocolate chips) at the end of the game if she won. The game switched it all for her (and me!). Instead of struggling and crying, we were having fun together.

So here’s my question that the chickens have raised yet again.

WHY did I stop?

Apparently, in my brain, third grade starts the busy grind of college prep exams because we ain’t got time for play. (most days)

What if play is exactly what our kids need?

What if play is exactly what WE need as moms?

What if play is a TOOL that is going to make all of life easier?

What if we all just need a chicken?!

Maybe you can’t own a chicken - but where is your “chicken”?

Where is the play that they can do for hours?

Have we let them try?

Or have we rushed it?

I rush play alllllll- The-time. And I want to stop.

If learning is going to be 95% easier for everyone if we play, then I need to reorient my brain away from my crazy to-dos and circle back to the value in open-ended play.

This won’t happen accidentally. My brain is much too bent towards that check list.

But here’s what I can do:

Schedule play.

Yeah, yeah, I know that’s maybe not the point of true “play”, but it’s somewhere.

If I’m LOOKING for ways to allow play instead of looking for ways to cross things off, I’ll at least be moving in the right direction.

What about you?

Do you need permission to seek play for your kids?

What if we tried? - Together?

Let’s not make life more complicated than feeding chickens. ;)


Hi!! I'm Liz Gerdes, and I'd like to be your encourager.

My husband and I are dairy farmers in SE MN and friends to anyone who is interested.

I help moms feel awesome about what they feed their families with farm fresh milk!

Visit or follow me on Facebook @gerdesfreshfarm or Instagram at @gerdesliz for more info.

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