When I think of our FAMILY and the word PLAY, I think perhaps that ship has sailed. Our kids are all in middle school, so there isn’t a lot of interest in play time anymore, is there? There’s a lot of playing around perhaps. And the term “playdate” has long been replaced with “hangout.” But, is there a need for regular family playtime?
While listening to Brene’ Brown’s The Gift of Imperfect Parenting audio CD in my car today, the importance of play in families really hit home. It made me realize that our lack of family play is exactly why we pulled out of our normal existence to take a 6 month hiatus around the USA. It was a way to regain playtime in our family. I never looked at it like that. Times of play had been hijacked by long days at school, homework, competitive sports and other extracurricular obligations. Our family had no time for regular play. Play is exactly what our family was missing.
I think it’s why so many of us love to travel and plan family vacations nowadays. It’s the only time we carve out for downtime to be together. I believe that today’s culture deprives us the regular opportunity for family play and we need to wake up to that fact and intentionally incorporate it back in. Stuart Brown is a leading expert on play who believes that the importance of play is essential through our lifetime. He even wrote a book on the science of play, and its essential role in fueling our happiness and intelligence throughout our lives. We cannot let go of relaxed, silly fun at any age. It is the piece of family life that keeps us joyful and connected.
When you think about your family, what are those activities you enjoy doing where you just lose track of time having fun together?
Here are 6 ways our family PLAYS together. Interesting how every one of them is outside in nature!
1. HIKING – who doesn’t love taking in the fresh air along a beautiful trail in a National Park.
2. BIKING- We enjoy the simplicity of getting on our two wheels exploring while exercising.
3. GEOCACHING- the kids introduced us to this fun treasure hunt type phenomenon. We always were on the lookout for different Geocaches‘ wherever we went.
4. ROPES COURSE CLIMBING – Our adventurous kids get us out doing things that we wouldn’t normally do. We did several ropes courses during our travels, but this was one of our favorites.
5. WHITEWATER RAFTING – Such a fun way to spend a family day laughing together!
6. COLLECTING SEA GLASS- This is a family tradition passed down from my parents. We love to see who can find the biggest piece or the most unique color! We spend hours doing this at the beach.
The family that plays together stays together! Make a list of the unique things you enjoy doing together as a family. How will you incorporate PLAYTIME back into your FAMILY if you too find it’s missing?