After reading the e-book called The Playful Family, by Shawn Ledington Fink from Awesomely Awake, I have been thinking a lot about playtime, and what it means in our family.

I am blessed to have a playful family. We sing little songs about nothing. We put baskets on our head and run to the letter box. We use silly voices. We do ring-a-ring-a-rosie. We play chasies in the garden. We dance with ribbons to Otis Redding. When my husband is around, playing is effortless fun. Playing does not take a toll, or make us adults feel like monkeys. We play like we breathe.

“Hey, guys, shall we dance around in circles?” asks Elka, as we finish our dinner.

But when my husband goes to work, I find myself struggling to get up the stamina to sit next to the sandpit and build a sand castle, or jump on the bed like a monkey. I am good at reading a few books on the couch with my little girl, but beyond that, I struggle.

I wonder about my internal aversion against playing…why is it there? And is it going to go away before my child is a teenager, and can’t think of anything worse than her mum playing games with her.

I think, for me, it is a matter of choice. Before having a child, I would have thought hanging out with a toddler all day, mucking around, crafting etc. was a dream run. But now that mucking around all day, crafting etc. is on toddler terms, not mine, I feel like it is more obligation than play. My choice would be to sit in front of a computer, and read blogs, or write. Some days I even prefer to work on my computer, which is ironic, really, given that when I was working full-time, playing sounded far better. Some days I even prefer to do house chores, which is very ironic!

Shawn’s e-book, The Playful Family inspires parents to find opportunities to be playful and enjoy family life. Ideas she suggests include:

  • Say ‘no’ less – turn nos into yeses. Instead of “No TV before school” try “Yes, TV after school”.
  • Light a candle – for anything. A birthday. A small triumph. A person. Put it in a cupcake.
  • Find ways to play that suit you. Is it doing art with your children? Or being an imaginary character? Or simply asking your children open-ended questions, encouraging them to tell a story?
  • Simply be. Allow yourselves to be bored. Down-time on the couch can be the funnest time as a family.

You can get more great ideas by downloading her e-book.

I am weaving Shawn’s inspiration into my daily life, like so:

  • This morning – Elka and I practised rhythmic gymnastics with our hoola-hoops, while we watched the closing ceremony.
  • I am mindful of my nos, and find myself suggesting alternative options instead…”Darling, can you please sit down on that chair?”
  • I am finding ways to play that suit me…sitting on the couch reading books or pretending to be different characters who talk in silly voices definitely suits both Elka and I, and I can do this anywhere, any time. (She thinks I’m hilarious.)
  • Today, in the pool, I just let myself float on her time –  guided by her little spirit as we drifted from one end of the pool to the other. It was fun.

For me, it is a case of letting go of my need to do, and embracing my capacity to be. After all, what greater gift does a young child give us?

What about you? How do you play?

{Linking with Jess from from Diary of a Stay at Home Mum for IBOT.}

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