the lost art of play

My little flying fox.

My little flying fox.

Play is a lost art. Even young teenagers can be discouraged (often by their peers) from experiencing pure disinhibited play. It’s childish, babyish whatever..but for those who do let themselves engage and truly embrace play, it’s not only fun, but also liberating.

Part of my life as a Mum means that I often find myself in the ‘serious’ parent role. At least that’s where I tend to lean, particularly when the behaviour of my children deteriorates. It bothers me that I have developed this authority figure instinct, because I don’t want to be taking it all so seriously all the time. I do have to ‘be the grown up’ and the parent…that’s who I am. But how I choose to actually ‘live it’ is my choice. It can be fun, or it can be no fun. Children naturally seek fun in every situation they find themselves in, and I think we should take their lead.

I went to a very inspiring seminar by Maggie Dent recently on raising boys, where she said ‘just lighten up’ with your kids, and you’ll connect with them. I think it’s great advice for life, and for all relationships. It definitely struck a chord with me. Laugh, play, have fun, don’t take yourself too seriously, release endorphins because you are happy, not just because you’ve managed to squeeze a run into your busy schedule! Embrace the fun and filter the un-fun.

My kids love it when I trampoline with them, and I find that it’s one of the things I do with them where I lose myself completely in the fun of the experience. We bounce, we squeal and we love being in this zone of play. My Mum hat is still on, but it’s tilted at a rakish angle, and I feel really free.

Maggie Dent is right. Just lighten up. Say yes to the fun bits, to any opportunity to play, and to be free of anything which traps you as a grown up, even if it’s just your attitude. Do it for you. Be completely and utterly joyfully disinhibited, and play!

Linked to With Some Grace for FYBF


15 thoughts on “the lost art of play

  1. I agree completely, Michelle. When ‘play’ is too prescriptive, it isn’t really play!

    I recently heard about the Principal of a primary school in NZ who threw out rules in the playground out and let the kids learn by exploring, making cubby houses, climbing trees etc – with huge success…there was less bullying in the school, and ironically fewer accidents and drama! 🙂

    • That sort of play is so instinctual. There’s a fantastic adventure playground in the town my folks live in, and kids can do all sorts of seemingly dangerous things. Building teepees out of massive bits of wood, climbing really high things etc. They love it and they learn so much more than they do in the very tame playgrounds which are everywhere now.

      • So true, Michelle. There used to be a playground down the road from us with a fantastic slippery-dip but they took it out and now the park’s one of those sanitised, fun-less parks. We should start a park-restoration society! 🙂

  2. Lovely heartfelt post. Thank you
    I do so love your last paragraph. It’s very true and simple, we just need to remember to change the mindset…it works even as a grandma to run round and play with the little ones…they love it and we love it. It refreshes the soul .
    Alexa from Sydney, Australia

  3. Beautifully written. I’m going to write that on my white board at home. Lighten up with your kids, you’ll connect with them. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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