Is your family missing out on the benefits of play?
When I was 26 I was eating dinner with my mother, telling her about this music festival I had attended. I closed the story by saying, “It was just so much fun!”
My mom responded with a “Huh..?!”
I know enough about my mother to understand that “Huh…?!” is always connected to a interesting thought, so I pushed her to share more.
What she said next gave me more insight about myself, my mother, and my family culture than almost anything else ever has. She said, “When I look back on my twenties all I can remember is work work work, there was no time for exercise…”
It was in that moment that I realized, my family doesn’t play together. My mother, doesn’t even understand the concept. She thinks that exercise is play. This realization made me sad, but it also gave me feelings of pride.
Raised in a workaholic family culture, I had to teach myself how to play and perhaps more importantly to value play. While I must credit my mother for the many things she has and continues to teach me, when it comes to play I am the expert and she is the student.
Encourage Kids To Play
For children play is vital to healthy development. When playing children explore, create, and discover themselves, others, and the world around them. The benefits are undeniable, kids who play:
- exhibit better behavior
- practice team work
- get exercise
- gain life skills
- produce more endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin
Encourage your kids to play early and often, but don’t stop there.
Play as a Practice
“Most of us think of adult play as respite or indulgence, but having fun is no trivial pursuit.” writes Hara Estroff Marano, contributor to Psychology Today.
Adults can also benefit from play, especially if you reframe play from an activity to a mindset and an energy.
Play as a mindset and a mood is about dropping the agenda, being present in the moment, and doing something for the pure joy of doing it!
- reduced stress levels
- improved brain function
- increased mental energy
- increased creativity
- improved relationships with others
- increased sense of youthfulness
Play as Family Value
Making play a family value is a great choice. This value empowers your family to cultivate a solid foundation. Families who play together stay together, because play:
- reduces stress and increases happiness and happy people fight less.
- facilitates learning and creativity and smart creative people are better able to solve problems.
- asks people to be present with each other in a joyful way and people who enjoy each other’s company always come back for more!
So when you find yourself stressing out about your family, stop, take a deep breath, and suggests a playful activity or outing, then find ways to play over and over again.
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