Put More Play In Your Day

I feel so strongly about the importance of play in our children’s lives that I sometimes dedicate an entire session to talking about it with my private coaching clients. But playing isn't only vital for kids’ learning and emotional well-being – it’s necessary for adults, too.

 

At some point in our development, most of us hear messages from adults to “grow up”, “act your age” and “be mature.” As we take on more responsibilities and obligations, having fun can get pushed aside. The negative effects of this on our health and relationships should not be overlooked.

 

Dr. Stuart Brown, the author of Play and founder of the National Institute for Play, has made a career of studying how playing affects children, adults, and other animals. He says that humans are uniquely designed by nature to enjoy and participate in play throughout life.

 

He considers play to be as essential to our bodies as sleep. Most of us are familiar with the effects of sleep deprivation, but Brown’s research shows a correlation between play deprivation and delinquency, depression, and other health-related diseases.

 

silly

Being silly with Dalia.

 

The benefits of play include: increased connection with others, better problem-solving skills, increased energy and motivation, less stress, and more joy.

 

Dr. Brown defines play as “an absorbing, apparently purposeless activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of self-consciousness and sense of time.”

 

If you’re out of touch with your playful side, think back to your childhood.  What kinds of activities evoked a sense of joy in you? What could you do for hours, losing track of time?

 

For me, singing and dancing top the list. For others, it might be a kind of sport, reading, getting out in nature, or creating art. Whatever it is, incorporate it into your life to re-create (from the word “recreation”) the same state of mind that brought you pleasure as a kid.

 

We don't always have to set aside specific time for play as a separate activity. Playing can be as subtle as shifting your attitude or approach. If you’re feeling disconnected from your kids or spouse, try being more playful. Remember when you and your spouse used to flirt with each other? Bringing that kind of playfulness back into your relationship can help ignite a lost spark.

 

Turn up the goofiness a bit. Cut loose once in a while. Humor (not sarcasm) can release tension and diffuse or prevent drama from taking over. Recently, Dalia became upset about a limit I set and made an angry face at me. Rather than getting defensive and escalating the conflict, I made a funny face back at her and we both started giggling. I'm also a big fan of fantasy play (read my blog about that here).

 

The stresses of parenting and marriage can be overwhelming, making the need for play and laughter that much more important.

 

How do you currently incorporate play into your life? What kinds of play (non-X-rated, please) do you enjoy? How could you include even more of it into your day? Please leave a comment below and let us know.

 

 

Showing 16 comments
  • Louisa
    Reply

    I’m big into play too. Yesterday I was with my youngest at the park and I went on the big bouncey castle thing with him because there were no other kids there. It was wonderful! He invented a bouncing basketball game – he knotted my scarf into a ball and made me hold out my arms to make a hoop, all while bouncing. Then to make it harder I had to twirl around! Hilarious and super free creativity. Made my day. 😀

    • Pam Howard
      Reply

      Thanks for sharing, Louisa. Sounds like a blast!

  • Sonia
    Reply

    great post, i’ve been incorporating more play time into my days with my kids, whether it’s playing Xbox or wrestling with my son… sometimes we even play “restaurant” .. the kids really enjoy this time with my husband and I and it creates memorable moments for the entire family. Playtime is Precious time

    • Pam Howard
      Reply

      Sonia,
      We love playing “restaurant,” too!!! And I’ve read that wrestling and roughhousing with boys (and girls) is actually really good for them. You rock!

  • Erin Chumas
    Reply

    This is soooo my mantra: “More playing. More silliness. More being.” Anytime I start to feel down about a lack of abundance in my life or a negative spell in my mindset or relationships, I know infusing my life with more playfulness is exactly what’s needed. Play time is medicine! Anytime I get into that silly place, I become expansive and allow all that juicy abundance and love to pour right in. It works every time. Thank you for the wonderful reminder, Pam!

    • Pam Howard
      Reply

      Hi Erin! Just reading your comment makes me want to be around you! Thanks for bringing your playful energy over here! xoxo

      • Erin Chumas
        Reply

        Awww, thanks Pam! We should make that happen some day. 🙂

  • Reply

    LOVE this post :). For many years, I was the “have to grow up and be serious and responsible” type. Now I know the importance of play and I incorporate it in my life daily. I love just being goofy. I love to laugh, play with my grandson who lives with me, make funny faces, blow bubbles, skip down the street, go out in nature and just plain-old be silly.

    • Pam Howard
      Reply

      Oh, it makes me so happy to read that, Leanne! It’s so great for you and your grandson, too. Thanks for commenting. Now go and play:)

  • Reply

    Great post, I have a hard time with this and have back tracked to some degree with how I’m raising the kiddo’s too. I realized a few months ago that THEY weren’t playing either! They had gotten use to be either told what to do or entertained! Yikes!
    We made a shift and I still struggle with “playing” incorporating play and free time into our day has done wonders!

    • Pam Howard
      Reply

      Hi Vivian! I’m so glad you made that shift and that you’re seeing good results. Keep it up!

  • Angela
    Reply

    This is such an important reminder, thank you. I try to play with my kids a little each day and just be in the moment…but, it’s not as often as I’d like. And I’d like to have more of a lifestyle/attitude of play, rather than carving out time. Although it sounds kind of silly to work towards more play, I am going to try to be more intentional about it!

    • Pam Howard
      Reply

      Hi Angela,
      I know many parents who find it difficult to have a playful attitude because they’re so out of practice. Being conscious of it is the first step. Just be patient with yourself and the more you practice, the easier it’ll get. Now, go turn on some funky music and get down with your bad self;)

      • Angela
        Reply

        lol – that I will. Thanks again for the inspiration!

  • Angie Andriot
    Reply

    Great post! I really don’t incorporate play into my day, but I have been working on ensuring I have leisure time. Of course what ‘play’ means will differ from person to person. When I was a kid, I spent most of my time reading, exploring the outdoors, and making up adventures in my head. So I guess for me, ‘play’ would be to do more of that….

    • Pam Howard
      Reply

      Angie,
      Your examples are great! I wonder if you could do some of that during your leisure time and then come back and let us know how it felt! xoxo

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