I often find myself watching my kids with envy as they play, not a care in the world. Over the holiday break, I was so concerned with coming up with new activities to keep them entertained and they seemed perfectly content to just play.
I watch them as they lose themselves in their intricate stories of make believe and I try to pinpoint the moment when my every day obligations stole my ability to play.
When did I leave the world of make believe and magic and join the society of obligations? When did my life go from wondering what I was going to do next to worrying about how I was going to get it all done? Work responsibilities, laundry, dishes, cooking, ballet class, swimming lessons, soccer practice and don’t forget about homework; I can’t keep up.
All of these have to do’s seem to have taken me away from my like to do’s.
I have lost my ability to play.
At my age what I consider play has changed drastically. My daughter would love nothing more than for me to drop everything and play ‘mummies and daddies’ with her. I’m not sure if she realizes that’s not playing to me, that’s what I call life. While the thought of playing Barbies or wrestling makes me want to run and hide, what I can do is spend an hour playing a board game or free up an afternoon to go tobogganing with my kids.
The obvious result of me letting go and giving in to my inner child is reflected in the smile that spreads widely over each of their little faces but what is most surprising is the impact it leaves on me. A couple of hours skating around our local rink with my son really lifts my spirits. I had forgotten just how much fun it is to toboggan! Ok yes, I’m not as adventurous as I once was and I may admit that I stick my feet out to slow myself down a little and ok maybe my body might demand a warm Epson salt bath to ease the ache afterwards but it really is fun! Could be the fresh air or the physical activity or the laughs I share with my children but when I make time to play it truly soothes my soul.
Life’s responsibilities will always be there. They aren’t going anywhere, in fact since I became a parent, the pile on my plate seems just seems to be getting higher. I can spend all day finding things that need to be done but what I really need to do is carve out some time for fun. I need to take some time each day to do something that I like to do without worrying about what I ‘should’ be doing instead.
By the time January arrives the only place I want to spend any significant amount of time is on my couch. In my jammies. In front of a fire. With Netflix. Getting out and playing in the winter is even harder than it is at any other time of year. It’s cold, darkness comes early and outside just doesn’t compare to my couch. Yet as hard as it is, it’s absolutely necessary. I need to try and spend some time outside every single day. I can dress warmly and go for a walk, take up cross country skiing or snowshoeing. I can teach my kids to ski or take them to the rink for a skate. Or better yet, grab a crazy carpet and head down the street to the closest hill. Do you know how freeing it can be to race down a hill, wind blowing against your face, squealing in delight?
Maybe it’s just that simple. Maybe the answer to reducing stress is simply to make sure you carve out some time for fun. Just because you grow up doesn’t mean you have to stop playing. After all, what is life without the fun and games?
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