A Family Who Plays Together Stays Together

family should play

5 Ways to Be More Playful at Home

When I was a child, my mom would often tell me to “Go play”. Off I would run—riding my bike, running through the neighborhood, feeling totally alive and not having a care in the world. I was blissfully free in the moment, the wind in my hair, pretending and playing for hours until my mom called me home for dinner.

Amazing how easy it was as a child to just play but as I’ve gotten older, playtime has become harder to add to my life. Honestly, responsibilities and busyness of family, work, and life make it difficult to give myself permission to play.

How easy is it for you to give yourself permission to play?

As moms, I think most of us would agree that somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we’ve stopped playing. I think we are so busy trying to do a good job raising our kids, we forget one of the most essential ingredients of creating a happy home—laughing, playing and having fun together.

I have learned that play is less about events and activities and more about how I choose to show up and engage in the world around me. Play for me has been about choosing to live lighter, not taking myself so seriously, and giving my childlike self the permission to play. And, showing our playful side to our kids, helps teach them that life should be a balance of responsibilities and enjoyments—we need to take time to laugh, play and relish life’s pleasures with the ones we love.

When we engage in play, we are our most spontaneous, creative, engaged, and alive selves. Play and laughter helps build strong, healthy relationships and bring people closer together by breaking down barriers and deepening intimacy. It is also an important source of relaxation, stress relief and positively impacts how we view situations.

Here are a few ideas to help you unleash your carefree, fun-loving self and create more lightheartedness, laughter and playfulness in your home.

1. Daily embrace your playful self.

Play doesn’t have to be complicated and is less about what we do and more about the spirit in which we engage in our everyday tasks.

Let your hair down. Give yourself permission to be goofy. Play music. Dance while you do the dishes. Laugh at yourself when you make a mistake. Think of ways you can be joyful and good-natured. Focus on having fun and enjoying yourself. Try it and see how your day becomes more productive and pleasurable.

2. Try humor.

Sometimes the best antidote when you don’t know what to do is to try something different. Humor can sometimes be the best medicine for defusing stressful situations. Next time your kids start fighting or you find your tension rising, try humor.

A mom recently shared with me that she tried this advice when a sibling squabble broke out. Instead of yelling in hopes of stopping the argument, she started to dance. To her surprise, her kids started laughing and joined in. Sounds kinda crazy, right? But, it worked. At the very least, give it a try—you have nothing to lose.

3. Schedule a time-out for play.

Intentionally block out time on your calendar to play. I have found this particularly helpful. Think about some things you would like to do as a family and schedule it. I love to try new restaurants and go to the theater, however, I often find that if I don’t make the reservations or buy the tickets ahead of time, life happens and I get sucked into the busyness of it all. Plan something everyone will enjoy, offer ideas, or ask your kids to make suggestions. When we carve out some leisure time, we’re less likely to zone out in front of the TV and more likely to engage in fun.

4. Be inviting.

Play is contagious. When we are having fun and enjoying ourselves, others are naturally drawn to us and want to join in.

Think about what you loved to do as a child and invite your spouse and kids to join you. Try it and see how it feels. Be creative. Get physical. Experiment with different activities that brings out your most alive, attractive, and playful self.

family should play5. Persevere through protest.

When you invite your family to join in, don’t be surprised if you experience some resistance, especially from your tween or teen. In my own experience, playful persistence pays off. Once my kids have come “along for the ride”, they have ended up enjoying themselves—even if they don’t show it.

(Click here to discover some family fun activities to “play” with your tweens or teens.)

It’s never too late to embrace your playful child-like selves. I encourage you to pick 3 things that can add more fun and play into your daily life. Keep it simple. Notice if you become more optimistic as a result.

Unleashing your carefree, fun-loving, playful self may be the most important thing you can do to create a more happy and healthy home while improving your own well-being.

Questions: What are some ways that you relax and have fun? How has laughter and fun made a difference in your home?

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