What did play time look like for you as a child?

Updated: Sep 10

Do you remember? Or has it been too long? That special day at the beach; running around splashing in the water, making a sandcastle, or being buried in the sand. The uncontrollable laughter as you ran to get away from the incoming waves. Digging to get those hermit crabs scurrying deep into the sand. Collecting sea shells or climbing on the rocks, long before you developed a fear of falling. That time during the summer with friends or family; playing make believe, singing with full emotion to your favorite singer/ or band. Playing in the pool during the summer or that makeshift slip-n-slide.


Do you remember how you felt in those carefree moments?


Do you still find time to play? If you answered no, have you thought of why you no longer play? Play is too often seen as an action only for children. There is so much to “get done” in our lives that we do not even think to take time to play. However, I challenge you to add play to your calendar if you don't already. I have learned over the last year that it is a vital part of our

well-being.

As the time passed in our efforts to “shelter at home” I started to see the light dim in the eyes of my 8 year-old nephew. Being such a playful child, I saw sadness in him when he could not play with “friends” (his cousins) or go to some of his favorite places. It was a sadness that broke my heart. Being a social person myself I knew what the isolation was doing to both of us physically, mentally and for him developmentally. After months of drive-thru birthday parties, FaceTime, and distant interactions, I started to find outdoor activities we could participate in safely. We began to spend time at the beach, roam through the gardens at Huntington Library, and explore the outside exhibits at the aquarium. We spent time on swan boats paddling the afternoon away. These activities made some difference but as school ended for him, I realized I needed to be more present in our time together. I decided to no longer make any other plans on my Wednesdays off. They became Aiden’s Wednesdays. Our fun days together.


What started as playtime with him, transformed into relaxation/ cut the world out time for me. At the beach I stopped just supervising as he dug a lagoon of water in the sand and made his sandcastle, I started to dig and build with him. When he asked me to help him build with his blocks, I got to the ground to build. We played with his hot wheels, and board games and of course he almost always “won.” He made up the rules and I went along with it to see that priceless smile on his face.

When we went back to Disneyland and my 18-year-old nephew wanted to get on those rides I normally avoid, I resisted those thoughts of, “It’s going to make me sick,” “I probably don’t even fit in the seat,” “I’m going to look ridiculous,” and just went for it. Four times in one day I got on rides I had not been on in years, and it was an experience with nephew I will cherish forever. It is an experience of my own freedom while flying freely in the sky and circling in the air. An experience I would have missed once more had I not stopped my limiting beliefs. Hearing, “Tia, will you play with me?” brings me such joy now.


How many times do the kids in our life ask us to play and we do not hear them, or we shut them down with our busyness? How many times to we shut ourselves down with no I cannot because…?


Saying yes to play:

· Encourage your imaginations.

· Fosters your creativity.

· Motivate you to move your body.

· Inspires peace of mind.

· Challenges your self-imposed limits.

· Enhances living in the moment.

· Reignite Fun, and happiness in your life!


Next time you think you can't afford time for play stop and think what play can do for you. Where can imagination take you in your work, at home or school? How can creativity make that next project easier? How does ridding yourself of those self-imposed limits and living in the moment open you up? How far can fun and happiness take you? When you really stop and contemplate these questions, I think you will agree- you can't afford to skip time spent in play.



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