Stop and think for a moment – when is the last time you played? Really played and laughed – belly full, mouth wide open, with sounds of true joy reverberating off of the walls of your home?
Did you think about it? Was it yesterday, last week, or last year?
As individuals, we should be aiming to laugh on a regular basis, and with our children, it’s even more important that we do it daily. Productivity and efficiency experts report that when we take time to play, we end up being more productive and more focused when we get back to our work. It’s best when the play is “guilt-free” – that is, when we throw ourselves into it, understanding that it’s “allowed” and good for us – not just some kind of shameful slacking or goofing off. By helping our children learn this from a young age, we’re setting them up for more contentment, better mental health, and a natural tendency towards life-work balance.
The last thing we want to do is make play “fake,” a kind of going-through-the-motions, just one more line item to cross off our never-ending to-do list.
The good news? It doesn’t have to be like that.
Abigail Wald, of Real Time Parenting, understands how hard and intense parenting can feel at times, like we’re just always giving our all and there’s nothing left. Then, when we’re met with out-of-control behavior in our kids, it feels cosmically unfair, almost kafkaesque at times. But one of the ways we can make it easier on ourselves – and on our kids – is to remember to actually play with our children, rather than just “take care” of them. This has huge advantages for BOTH parents and children. In case you feel like “that’s a nice enough idea, but who’s got the time?” you might enjoy Abigail’s article about 5 Games You Can Play With Your Kids in 5 Minutes or Under.
Laughter can be cultivated. Make it a habit to prioritize fun – it’s not just good for your child, it’s good for you too. Start today – turn off the TV, put down your phone and laptop (after you finish reading this of course), and go get silly with your child!
Abigail Wald, founder of Real Time Parenting and co-host of the popular podcast, “Hand in Hand: A Podcast for Parents,” is our featured guest on the Parenting Today video series. Watch the full episode here as she discusses practical things parents can do every day in their own homes to shape the life they want for themselves and their children.