I often say that my husband is like my third big kid. He loves taking the kids along to the latest animated movie, joining them at trampolining centres or bike parks, or simply chasing them around the garden as he pretends to be a big scary bear. In fact, I’d say that men in general, are better at being playful (or maybe just my man!). Whereas with me, I’m so caught up in the serious parenting stuff, like have they eaten yet, have they done their homework, have their taken their vitamins, that I often forget to spend time playing with my kids.
But I’m missing out. In fact, they say that globally, play is on the decline for both kids and adults alike and this has negative and far reaching consequences. Play is also one of the best ways for us over scheduled, over worked adults to relieve stress and improve our happiness. So with that in mind, here are some ideas on how we can #PlayMore, and why it’s so important to do so:
- Focus on animals
Now I’m not saying that you should suddenly decide you want to be a pet owner, because that brings with it a host of responsibilities that you do need to take seriously. But having contact with animals, from owning a dog, to taking up horse riding, to adopting a kitten from an animal shelter, is one of the best ways to play again. Throw a ball and play catch, race them in the park, play tug-of-war with a ball of wool (I’m not talking about the horse here!) – any of these is a great way to interact with animals and be less serious about life.
- Take up a sport
Playing is about doing something that you find fun, so pick a sport you’ve always enjoyed. Maybe it’s a game of squash with a friend, a 5km run with your friends through the forest or joining an amateur basketball team. The idea is to focus on something outside of work or family, something purely for yourself, and to set up prearranged times so you can do it regularly (once or twice a week for example). And the bonus? You’ll get fitter too!
- Colouring in
I’ve long been a fan of adult colouring in books – although one picture takes far more time to complete than you would think! When I was sitting in the hospital after Gareth had his back surgery, I spent so much time with my glittery pens crafting patterns and swirls of colour and it really helped me manage my stress levels and anxiety.
- Games night
I just love board games, I always have. From Scrabble to 30 Seconds, Monopoly to cards, I think we need a revival in playing good old fashioned board games! I’d really like to set up a standing event with a group of friends where we meet once a month at someone’s house, order pizza, drink wine and compete in a heated game of Pictionary or charades – what fun?!
- Relook at those hobbies
We’re so obsessed with our screens these days that we’ve neglected all those things we used to like doing. Maybe it’s getting behind the potter’s wheel, learning how to play the guitar, or finally going on a sewing course? If you’re stuck, think back to when you were a child and what you really enjoyed doing – that should spark a thought or two.
- Connect with what your kids like doing
All of the above focus on doing things in your own time, which is very important. But it’s also a good idea to connect with your kids via the action of playing with things they are interested in. Whether it’s sitting down on the floor and building their train set, or bouncing with them on the trampoline – tune in to what they are enjoying and get involved. Music is very popular in our house right now, which is why the Bright Beats™ Juniors BeatBo™ and BeatBelle™ toys from Fisher-Price are just awesome. You can get the party started by batting their bobble heads as they emit bright lights, playful tunes and silly dance moves.
So come on, everybody, it’s time to #PlayMore. You can visit the Fisher-Price website and like the Facebook page to keep up to date with their latest news and products – plus get ideas for how to encourage your kids (and maybe yourselves!) to play more.