My very loose New Year’s Resolution is to be more in the moment. I have a tendency to get back to my to-do lists in the blink of an eye which isn’t surprising since I have a very full and active household. My mind literally has to move from one idea to the next all the time. You’d think that was living in the moment, but it’s wearing and I often find that I quickly move through things just to get the parts I like, which isn’t living in the moment at all.
What I find even more interesting and inspiring is, that my kids are masters at being in the moment. They live in the moment. Especially when they are playing. They play cars as if they are the car engines in a race or the lift mechanism that dumps the dirt. My house literally sounds like a busy city filled with cars, construction and getting the “bad guys”. I wish my household chores were that fascinating. So I’ve concluded that in order to live in the moment, I have to get better at playing. Even more so, I have to make time to play; by myself and with my kids.
The Mayo Clinic lists a number of reasons it’s important to add play into your adult life. In essence, they say playing can bring you more happiness. It’s true! I find that when I’m happy, I’m more prone to being in the moment and enjoying the little things. I eat better and make much better nutrition choices. I make time to exercise and actually enjoy the experience of a more intense workout. Which means I sleep better.
I’m also a better parent. Little annoyances don’t bother me as much and I’m more apt to join in the fun making rather than putting off those bids for my attention. I’m a better friend, partner, and worker too. I’m more engaged in conversation and become more curious about what others are doing in their lives. I am better at taking risks and am more ready and able to problem solve creatively.
How does one begin to transform parts of the day into ‘play time’? Here are some jumping off spots:
Consider how much time or how often you can make ‘play time’ a priority in your day or week. Maybe It’s only 1 hour a week or 20 minutes every couple of days. Maybe a full day every other weekend? What fits today may have to change with the seasons or your household obligations. Be flexible and easy on yourself. It’s supposed to be fun J
Play by yourself or with others? It is easier to incorporate your family? Or do you want to play on your own? Here are two ideas from my family.
- Host an after meal dance party: It doesn’t have to be fancy and it could be just you and your kids and maybe it only lasts for 8 minutes. Either way, dancing is a great way to let off steam and get out of your brain so you can loosen up space for all that thinking you do every day. Pick out some of your favorite music and start moving your body. Put your dozens of to-do lists and should-be-doing thoughts on pause and turn up the beat. If you enjoy being a host, consider inviting some friends to join you! Maybe you can finally find a way to get over your fear of dancing in front of your peers.
- Lazy Indoor Snowball Fights: pile up your socks and have your kids run from one side of the room to the other while you throw the socks (snowballs) at them. If they get hit they do a jumping jack (snowflake jump) to get back in the game. My kids love to throw the socks at me as I run back and forth and my jumping jacks have improved since we added this game to our lives. We don’t keep any sort of score and inevitably loose a pair of socks which becomes its own game of search and find.
- Here are some other great kid and family oriented games that take minimal set up/cleanup and supplies:
- Family Fun Card Games
- 5 quick indoor games
Want some adult only play time?
- Think about your growing-up days. Did you play a sport or an instrument? Check into sports clubs or community classes or lessons.
- Invite your friends over. This could be something as simple as come over and drink coffee with me or a full meal. Try adding in a board game for the adults while the kiddos play their own games. Maybe this can become a monthly activity?
Simple hobbies are also considered playing!
- Try out adult coloring books.
- Set up and keep a tropical aquarium.
- Teach your dog a new trick.
- Learn new baking and cooking techniques.
Go All In! Maybe in order to commit to engaging in more play, you need to go ‘all in’. You may be a good candidate for learning to build a canoe or taking a community or on-line class to teach you new skills. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about doing something big like this for a while but just haven’t committed. Taking small steps to get you there is still considered play! Making time for it weekly or monthly is a great way to begin to incorporate a big hobby into your life.
There are so many ideas! Don’t worry! Play is defined as a verb: engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose. And is also defined as a noun: activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation, especially by children. Either way you look at it, play is play as long as it’s enjoyable with little to no perceived outcome. How wonderful! Something you can do that isn’t supposed to have a predictable outcome other than bringing you enjoyment.
Perhaps I will begin meeting my New Year’s Resolution this week by creating my own soundtrack of sounds to sing while I’m washing dishes or laundry folding. It’s a start, maybe not exactly what we think of as ‘play’ but I will be amused and I will have a good time. I bet my kids would wonder what is going on in the kitchen. Maybe they will stop their playing and join in on mine! Or maybe not. Either way, I’ll have learned to take a step out of my head and back into my child-like heart.