“A Day of Play”

The Joy of Play is more imperative to our well-being than we realize.

by dmackladykp2 | posted in: becoming fully alive!, DIY Health-Helpers, Encouragement, healthy kids on the vitality lounge.com, HOLISTIC Health, of Body, Mind, & SPIRIT, There’s more to our health, Tips & Ideas |

Not too long ago, our daughter brought home a notice from her elementary school…

The notice read:

On Thursday, March 30, our class will be participating in Global School Play Day 2017 (GSPD). GSPD has been promoted by Psychology Today and is being celebrated at schools around the world. You can learn more about the benefits of unstructured play by visiting the official GSPD website: www.globalschoolplaydaycom. I am inviting all of our students to bring in things to play with on this very special day. … … …
Though our play day will be unstructured, it will still be supervised by teachers. It is my hope that this one day of play will inspire families to plan for more unstructured play time during non-school hours.

WOW, right? I really got to thinking — WHY is this even necessary?? I mean — ’tis a good thing for sure — in our go-go-go culture of today… But when I was growing up, EVERY DAY was a “day of play” (outside of school.) I’d get home, jam through any homework or necessary responsibilities (chores, etc) — and out the door I flew! I was playing with my siblings, or neighbors & school friends, or just exploring solo. I was running around outside. I was randomly kicking around a ball. I was making up games with my friends. Anything to get the creative juices, and the blood, really flowing. I was ALIVE with the JOY of unstructured play! It struck me as sad to realize that a lot of kids just aren’t familiar with ‘unstructured play’ — an opportunity to use their imaginations, dream, create, explore, and cultivate greater self-awareness as they also interact on a personal level with others.

It’s actually a bit frustrating to realize how regularly adults place such an emphasis on teaching kids ‘early’ — often over-emphasizing the perceived importance of ‘book smarts’. Additionally, adults are often engaging kids in numerous commitments (there’s a difference between passion and over-commitment!) — at such a young age — that they rarely have much time left over to simply “go play” (like we used to do relentlessly.) Please don’t get me wrong — it’s great to have them involved in something that they enjoy. Yet, in my humble opinion, there has to be a limit to the amount of time that we (ANY of us) commit ourselves to on a regular basis. Even kids can and will burn out. And while academics are important on some level, they aren’t the end-all-be-all to our existence, our abilities, or our inherent value. What’s of greater value is in helping to cultivate their ability to shine, just as they are, and truly be HAPPY — (whatever happiness means for each individual.) Sure, they need to learn personal responsibility, and balancing priorities…. But WE get to help put them on the right track — so that they don’t lose the spiritual joy of living in the process of physical survival.

Anyone recall the infamous quote from the classic thriller? “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”……….

Well in our electronics-obsessed, and ‘success’-pressed culture today — it’s not even an issue of all work and no play. It’s that the ‘play’ is typically very structured or guided (as in extra-curricular activities such as sports where there are rules to follow and certain requirements & expectations), or downright mind-numbing (video games) rather than truly stimulating or creativity-sparking. This is where limiting screen time becomes an absolute must — but not merely from the perspective of “preventing mind-numbing and blindness”…. Requiring them to turn off the videos and TV requires them to also determine what else brings them joy, and move toward that. It helps them realize the value of life on a more in-depth & personalized level. It involves immediate creative problem solving put into action as they determine ways of entertaining themselves, and amps up the creativity in discovering new modes of play and ways of accessing their joy. And, it helps prevent them from falling into the trap of relying SO heavily on electronic devices for constant distraction. We all need time to just quiet the mind, rather than continuously being pulled toward what’s going on ‘out there’. It’s not to say that there isn’t some value in enjoying a good movie or playing a fun electronic game once in a while. But there’s a difference between enjoying something for entertainment here or there, and being dependent on something outside of us for happiness…

I’m glad that some people in our society-at-large fully recognize the value of free-flowing, imaginative play — and are working to re-instill those values in our over-worked, and electronic-dependent culture. I’m grateful that they are making a point of spreading that awareness and promoting something so basic to our very existence. It’s something that people of ALL ages can appreciate and benefit from. It’s definitely an ode to aging well — which I’m determined to do… Maybe just maybe, it’ll eventually expand to reach the corporate world as well as schools across the globe. Can you imagine what our lives would feel like if we made a conscious effort to set aside a greater amount of time for simply living — rather than just surviving — or ‘striving’? Maybe this day of play can escalate to a day of “THRIVING” — for kids of all ages. Something tells me we could make this a reality. But if not on a global scale — then we have the opportunity to make it a reality for ourselves and our families — even on a day-to-day basis. It’s up to us to help the movement forward. Our children live what they learn… So I ask you this… Are you in?

TIPS for getting creative with play:

  • Encourage kids to consider what they want to learn about most — or what they want to be when they grow up — and have them explore the topic and create that environment to ‘practice’ in…
  • Keep cardboard and other crafty items handy for them to get creative with. (i.e. If kids want to play ‘restaurant’ — but don’t have play food — they can create their own versions with the goods!)
  • Have them remember a fun time and recreate the experience with play (i.e. — did they love a camping adventure? Prop together branches from the yard or furniture in the house, and place a blanket over the top for a ‘tent’… create a pretend campfire, fishing poles, etc…. The possibilities are limitless!
  • Ask them to consider what their favorite game is… (tag, hide & seek, etc) — Now ask them to think about ways that they could create new things to add to the game, or create something new out of it entirely.
  • Get them thinking beyond the ‘norm’…. Ask them, “What if you could do ANYTHING you could possibly think about — even if it doesn’t seem possible in our physical world — what would it be?” (Ride a magic carpet? Where to? What would you see? Who would you bring?)
  • Maybe ask, “If you could invent ANYTHING, what would you invent and why? How would it work? What would you use to build it?”

These are just some ways to get kids thinking outside of the box and sparking that creative energy that will inevitably take them into joyful play. Maybe we should be asking ourselves these same questions to get our own juices flowing! In fact — I have a couple of tips for us adults too:

  • Play hooky once in a while! ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ ~Ferris Bueller
  • Play hooky WITH your kids! Yep, you’ll be setting an example…. In my personal opinion — it’s a good one. Let them know that perfection isn’t expected, and remember that life is happening NOW.
  • You can enjoy life more without stomping on your responsibilities altogether…. There are many little ways you can help make EACH day count.
  • Don’t take life so seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive… 😉
  • And finally — I leave you with a beautiful summary about life with a quote from Abraham Hicks (Aka: The Collective Consciousness/ Source/ God/ The Universe/ That Pure Love Energy): “It’s supposed to be FUN!”
Speaking of FUN — my passion is in providing guidance for keeping truly healthy living simple, affordable, and FUN!
Have you checked out my in-depth online e-courses to get you on your Vitality-Journey? You really should 🙂
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Originally published at thevitalitylounge.com on May 2, 2017.

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