Before motherhood, I always thought I would be the sort of Mum who would naturally divert my children away from Barbie dolls - they seemed to embody the outrageous girliness that I didn't want my daughters to to grow up thinking was expected of them. However, motherhood changes a lot of things and these days I see the world a little differently. I don't like to put boundaries on my daughter's play. If they want to hammer pretend nails into wooden DIY workbenches then I shall encourage that... and if they want to play "sisters" with their Barbie dolls, then so be it.
So why the change of tune? Well, motherhood has taught me that imaginative play is incredibly valuable for children to learn about the world and to form their own ideas of the way society works. Our children aren't constrained by the boundaries that many adults think are placed on them by society. When they play, children can be anything they want to be, and do anything they want to do. Imagine the possibilities.
As a successful working woman in a male-dominated business (software), I'm keen to encourage my girls to think big. I thought this video from Barbie was very clever.
Those clever beans at Barbie HQ are of course right. When the girls are immersed in their imaginary Barbie world they think up stories and new ideas. They plan, they succeed, they think big. Of course, there are also days when the extent of their role play goes no further than Barbie and her friends going to the shops to buy cakes... but that's cool too!
I guess my big concern is that thinking big doesn't have to stop when the role play fizzles out. When my girls stop playing and start "being", I want them to understand that there are no boundaries. They can be anything.