How Do You Play?

I’m in the middle of a great book about the importance of playing. It’s giving me something to think about as I go about my everyday stuff, because it’s making me realize that I don’t spend enough time playing. It’s making me watch my kids play, and think about how I can learn from them, how to encourage them in their play, and how we can pursue more fun around here.

Play isn’t much of an issue when Ben is at home – he is naturally a very playful person, and when he’s an old man, he will be a more wholesome version of the Taco Bell commercial about the seniors sneaking out of the retirement home at night. He’s always got a twinkle in his eye, and is constantly cracking jokes and reading stories with all the silly voices.

Everett’s backyard version of “water skiing”

And then there’s me – a little on the intense side, often forgetting that life is not one big to-do list. I think I can be pretty funny sometimes, and I enjoy pursuing creativity and relaxation, but playfulness…not so much. I’ve just never thought about it a lot.

So now there’s this book: The Dolphin Way: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy and Motivated Kids Without Turning into a Tiger. (affiliate link) It’s interesting to be reading about the scientific study and different categories of play, while watching my kids naturally doing these things, and trying to figure out when I lost it. Movement, banging things, building things, imagining, wrestling, storytelling, and rituals. (That last one is actually one of the easiest for adults – ritual or celebratory play refers to birthday parties or the fun things we do for holidays.)

Having kids gets me to do more of these things with them – and I do have to admit that it feels good to build Jenga block towers or get out the puzzles. But how often do I intentionally pursue play for myself? I don’t even know how I would do some of those things. What could I build?!

I can see dramatic improvement in my life when I do take part in any these things – daily walks and yoga have been a huge benefit in my life. Writing and telling stories feeds my soul. Dancing in the kitchen while we clean up from supper is always a good way to get everybody in a good mood. So maybe I’m doing better than I thought, but there’s still lots of room for improvement!

I found it interesting that in this author’s mind, competitive sports don’t count as play! She’s referring specifically to recreational play, where there is no pressure to win or perform, and the focus is on freely playing without worrying about improving skills or striving to reach goals. Just plain, simple fun.

I want more of that! How can I intentionally pursue play in my own life? Maybe we all need kids to lead the way! How do we keep them from losing their sense of fun and ability to play? I’m so curious to hear your thoughts!

Are you like Ben, and find it easy to incorporate play, or are you more task-focused? How do you play? I need some fresh ideas!!:)

Around Here Right Now…

My goodness, what a full, wonderful week!

I’ve found my fourth “pro” to coming home – my friend Nikki said, “It’s me, it’s me!!” And she was right – all these wonderful people in my life are definitely worth coming home to! We were only gone one week, but it is good to get back into routine, and to spend time with everyone we get to share life with.

Instead of sitting around, trying to write deep, thought-provoking blog posts, I chose to spend my week socializing, unpacking, and settling into routine, so I will end the week with a quick list of some things I’m enjoying right now:

1) Picnics in Heaven.

Kaylia has been playing with her Aqua Doodle mat a lot this week – she loves to get her Polly Pockets out and make up stories with them, using the colorful scenes around the edge of the mat. She kept talking about going to Heaven for picnics, which really confused me, until I went to get a closer look. Then I could see exactly what she meant:

Aqua Doodle

City and trees, sky, followed by more trees and grass, above the sky. Heaven makes sense! I love it that she thinks we go there for picnics!

Major problem with her new theology – we come back down when the picnic is over.

2) My new cleaning schedule.

I’ve never used a pre-made cleaning schedule before. I didn’t think I’d like it.

But while we were away on vacation, I stumbled across this schedule, which I bought at a hugely discounted price in a package with a bunch of other books I’d really wanted, and as I looked over it, I thought it would be kind of fun to try.

I’ve only been using it this week, but I can see how this could totally work for me! For some reason, I’m able to get a lot more done when I feel like someone else is “telling” me to do it! It’s also showing me how easy it is to break up big, time-consuming jobs into quick little jobs, done here and there throughout the day. I may not have time to clean out the whole fridge, but I can clean the top shelf.

I don’t like the idea of paying for a cleaning schedule, though, so here’s a link for a free one, if you feel like having someone else tell you how to clean your house!

3) Cream of Rice with Cinnamon Apples for Breakfast.

Cinnamon Apples

Oh, yum. I’ve eaten it every day this week. Gluten-free, and super cheap.

Just grind up rice in a coffee grinder, and cook it like you would regular rice (except it cooks a little faster, so it needs lots of stirring).

To make Cinnamon Apples, you melt butter in a frying pan, throw in an apple cut up in little chunks, and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Cook it until the apple is soft, and put it on top of the cream of rice. So delicious.

And now I feel really hungry for breakfast!

What have you been up to this week?