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Parenting Our Future

Sep 8, 2020

How do you thrive during a pandemic?  The Spring and Summer of 2020 has been unlike any other, and we don’t want to go into Fall the same way.  What if I told you there are things you can do to set your family up to THRIVE? 

My guest Meghan Fitzgerald has the answer!!  She is the Co-Founder of Tinkergarten and has spent her professional career educating children.  Meghan has seen how many families are struggling through the pandemic and she has put together a FREE Family Play Book to help families THRIVE even while we are still in the midst of the uncertain world we’re living in.

In this episode, we talk about what kids really need, how much time they actually need from us, and how to set your day up for success with quality time anchors.  We also talk about playing safely while social distancing and right now, in this moment in time, OK is good enough!  (YES!!) 

If you have never heard of Tinkergarten…run, don’t walk to your computer, and check them out!  What they have to offer is a GAME CHANGER FOR FAMILIES! 


About Meghan Fitzgerald

After 18 years as an educator, curriculum developer and school leader, Meghan has her dream gig—an entrepreneur/educator/mom who helps families everywhere, including hers, learn outside. Prior to Tinkergarten, Meghan worked as an Elementary School Principal, a Math/Science Specialist & and a teacher in public and private schools in NY, MA and CA. She earned a BA with majors in English and Psychology at Amherst College, an MS in Educational Leadership at Bank Street College, and was trained as a Forest School leader at Bridgwater College, UK. When she is with her kids, Meghan is that unapologetic mom who plays along with them in mud, dances in the pouring rain, and builds a darn good snow igloo with her bare hands.


Facebook and instagram:

Pinterest @tinkergarten


From the podcast:

 Go to  for the FREE Parent Play Book and sign up for their mailing list.


Here are some tips on how to foster independent play with your kids:


  • Start out simple.  Use basic elements like an empty cardboard box, a sheet or blanket, or a bowl full of water give kids many, many more directions to go with their play than ready-made toys do, allowing kids to invent imaginative ways to use the materials and iterate as they go. 




  • Invite rather than direct. Kids play longer when they feel like they are the ones directing the action. To make them feel “in the lead”, prompt them with “Would you like to build a fort?” Or, you can just start doing something and that example will be enough to get kids to dive in. Once they are really into it, you can step away, and they’ll be much more likely to stay engaged for having entered in on their own terms. 




  • Set up an inviting environment. Create a play space that will invite or suggest a starting point for play. Check out Part 1 of Tinkergarten’s Independent Play Training Series: Setting up your play station.




  • Release new materials or “ingredients” slowly and only a few at a time. The fewer the toys, the more creative and focused kids become. Lots of different options can easily overwhelm kids, and they lose interest and focus. So, rather than bombard kids with too many choices right off the bat, hold onto new materials and release them one or two at a time, just when kids seem like they might need a boost in their play. 




  • Pick a “project” for play that can last all week—or longer.  One way to get independent play going for even longer is to set up a “project” or theme for pretend play - pizza shops, rocket ships or big cats, for example. To set it up, designate part of your home for project play.




  • Find resources that give you lots of ideas for child-led, playful learning. The more you can inspire your child to play, the more you’ll get to that happy place of an engaged child and a satisfied you. This fall, Tinkergarten will be offering Circle Time, an 8-week online session that is led by an experienced Tinkergarten Leader who will guide the class through hours of joyful, purposeful play. 




  • Let them lull. Struggle is an integral part of independent play.  Really, enriching play is full of lulls—those moments of pause or even of boredom are when the real inspiration hits! When you feel the urge to jump in, or when kids ask for your help, count to 10 or so before you respond or ask them, “What could you do now?”


Thanks for listening!

It means so much to me that you listened to my podcast! If you would like to purchase my book or other parenting resources, visit me at


With this podcast, my intention is to build a community of parents that can have open and honest conversations about parenting without judgement or criticism.  We have too much of that!  I honor each parent and their path towards becoming the best parent they can be.  My hope is to inspire more parents to consider the practice of Peaceful Parenting. If you know somebody who would benefit from this message, or would be an awesome addition to our community, please share it using the social media buttons on this page.

Do you have some feedback or questions about this episode? Leave a note in the comment section below!


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