How many of you have made New Year’s Resolutions? International research says at least half of us. It also says that only 10% of us are likely to keep them for longer than a few months. This is usually because we want to change everything we have done wrong all in one year. I have a new proposition for you… Instead of creating an endless list of unrealistic resolutions this year, set one that will indirectly help on all other fronts – play more.
I have been hovering around this concept on and off for quite some time. As most working parents can attest to, the guilt of never spending enough quality time with your children can be consistently guilt inducing. Add to that the guilt of not finding time to exercise, to be healthy, to lose weight, to save more money, to read more… I kept feeling that there must be a way to achieve all of these things. And then I saw this video and somehow it clicked for me – Play More.
The value of learning through play for children has been explored and explained for years. From motor skills to literacy to empathy and communication, playing offers endless benefits. The value of play for adults is a lot less discussed, in fact it is often frowned upon as time better spent being “productive” in some way. We know that we should play more with our children to cultivate our relationships and bonds with them and encourage their growth and development.
But there is so much more to it than that! And here is where I see the potential for using the philosophy of Play More to ultimately attain the more “regular” New Year’s Resolutions.
Exercise / Lose Weight / Be healthier
When last did your child lead you in play? If you have a toddler or a preschooler, I can pretty much guarantee that you will be moving constantly for as long as you are together. Running, climbing, jumping, dancing, lifting them to fly, throwing them in the air, swimming… And if you have a baby, lifting them and moving them around is great for their development! You essentially have ever-moving weights to engage and “exercise” with.
If you are torn between spending an hour at the gym and seeing your child before bedtime, go home! Spend a solid hour experiencing the energy and excitement and touch and closeness of your child. You will get plenty of exercise, an hour of running or dancing or lifting a child in the air a day will definitely help you to lose weight! And the fresh air, sunshine or even brisk cold is incredibly healthy for you too. If the physical health aspect of playing more isn’t selling you, it has also been shown to alleviate depression and anxiety.
If you play more, you will stress less! It’s science! When you are having fun, your body releases endorphins that make you feel good. If stressing less is on your list of resolutions, get down on the floor with your kids and PLAY MORE!!
Instead of trying to find things outside of your home to entertain your kids, things that cost money, switch off your technology and play with your children. If you want to see how much money you can save, draw the cash from the ATM that you would have spent on an outing and put it in a jar. A family of 4 going to the movies with popcorn and drinks or going to Spur costs at least R500. So it literally pays you to stay home and play more!
Ok, so this one may not be quite what you mean when you make the resolution to read more… But still. Reading to your kids is such an amazingly rewarding thing to do for you both. The rhythms in children’s books can be incredibly soothing and fun and the giggles that most stories induce are great for the soul. Pop down to your local library with your kids and let them choose new stories every week. I guarantee you will meet your reading numbers for the year and naturally lead your kids to love books too.
Reconnecting with your children in play will also allow you to reconnect with yourself. You will be reminded of the importance of fun, of switching off, of being silly and laughing out loud. And it will let your kids see you in that light as well, instead of stressed, guilty, overworked grumpy parent. So do it! Make your only New Year’s Resolution to Play More!
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
George Bernard Shaw