Like many families, there are times when my family life involves a lot of working, juggling and scheduling. I started my own business in January which has understandably brought a lot to my plate. Meanwhile, my husband has been working really long hours at the office after a period of layoffs and restructuring.
Recently, a long public holiday weekend appeared on the horizon of my husband’s schedule. He had booked time off earlier in the year to care for our two children who would not have childcare or school. I had already decided to work through the public holiday in favour of getting stuff done!
When my husband announced he was planning a weekend’s camping at the beach, I decided I was not willing to miss out on family time at the beach. With some juggling and hustling, I managed to join them and make the most of the long weekend.
Take me to the beach
I love the beach, it is one of my most favourite places. Hearing the waves and feeling the sand on my bare feet never fails to relax me. This is one of the reasons that I jumped at the chance at a camping trip. I was so busy and tired of “adulting” I wanted to take a break with my three favourite people in my favourite place.
On our trip, we spent a lot of time on the beach with the children. We played in the sand and had fun directing a stream that came down across the beach and into the sea. Then we created little waterways and watched the water flow through them. Our waterway system became quite complex as we built dams and broke them and re-patched them.
At one point my husband and I realised we had not only spent most of the day doing this but also the children had ditched us in favour of digging a large hole nearby. We laughed as we realised that we were playing on our own and we were enjoying every moment of it.[caption id="attachment_1291" align="aligncenter" width="2449"] Photo by Juja Han on Unsplash[/caption]
What we experienced was something in addition to precious family time. We were being silly and imaginative and there was no more clock watching. We used our hands to create something purely for fun. It was play.
As adults, we don’t really value our own playtime. It tends to be something we do with the children for their benefit. Play in adults is often considered immature or unproductive. We discourage this type of behaviour in favour of more serious and responsible activities. For us, playing with the sand on that warm day was most definitely to our benefit.
As we played, I felt a stiffness in my shoulders as I began to relax the tightened muscles there. I felt lighter and more at ease. I stopped planning ahead and juggling. We didn’t think about work or schedules or the to do list. Instead, we made dams and then opened them up and watched the water flow freely again. We experienced a lightness that was not available in our current hectic schedules. Everything felt energised and happy after our messy day on the sand.
Making room for play
Play should not be reserved for children. The opportunity to step away from the responsibilities that exist at the moment give us energy, clarity and creativity. Fun for funs sake should not be a privilege only for the young.
Studies show that play is benefitial for children. We encourage the children in our lives to play because we want them to be happy, relaxed and creative people. We support them to use their imagination and feel free through play.
Why are we denying this opportunity to ourselves once we “grow up”? Imagine a world where we could embrace play as an important part of adult life. Where messing around in the sand dunes as adults was encouraged or even recommended.
Find opportunities to be playful. Give yourself permission to play like a child. Be messy and creative and enjoy activities purely for fun rather than any outcome or goal. Notice how the children in your life and allow themselves to be silly, be playful and imaginative for no other reason than it is fun. Play is a pathway to feeling free and happy. No one should be denied that, regardless of their age.