We all want to feel happy and be connected with our loved ones. Play isa natural way for us to feel light and joyful thus spilling over into feelings of happiness and passing that on to the ones we love. Sounds pretty simple. But with our busy schedules and endless “to do” lists and activities, it may take some conscious effort to make this happen.
As this is National Play Therapy Week, February 3-9, I thought this may be a good time to share some thoughts about play and some of it’s wonderful benefits. As a Registered Play Therapist I use play in a therapeutic way in my private practice. Not only is play helpful for children. It is helpful for adolescents and adults as well. Play is truly healing and restorative. It is connecting and relationship building. Play is a wonderful preventative prescription as it requires the focus of being in “the moment”, not worrying about the past or the future.
Let’s look at ways to incorporate more play into your life. And how to do so in the most healthy ways possible.
Play for YOU to Rejuvenate and Relax
Choose Something That You Really Like or Love, Just for the Pure Enjoyment of It.The key here is YOU and what YOU enjoy and brings YOU pleasure. This is not exercise or your yoga practice, etc. Even though these should bring you pleasure and feel good.
Choose a Time That You Can Focus on the Playful Time and Let Go of the Past or the Future. Just allowing a time for you and the feeling of playfulness and joy.
Choose Something that is Lighthearted and Fun.There is lots of time we spend in our life being serious. This is a good thing. But we all need balance. Pure fun is such a freeing feeling that gives us a break from our worry.. So give yourself this gift. You deserve it!
Take a Break From Your “TO DO LIST”. Doesn’t that sound wonderful. Just not doing anything on this list will open up space to be playful and rejuvenate your spirit.
Some possible playful ideas for YOU:
Spend time in nature, enjoying all that you love in the outdoor setting.
Cuddle up with and play with your animals.
Ride your bike or take a walk in a slow, enjoyable way, taking in all around you. This is different than exercise, more a meditative activity.
Spend time doing something that brings you joy. Maybe it is cooking or maybe it is painting or writing or playing music or shooting some hoops. Do what brings you joy.
“Playfully Yours” Couple Time
We start out being playful and having fun in our relationships. And as time goes by, you may find this is less so. As one person said to me, “Life gets in the way.” Our lives do become more full with families and more demanding work, etc. So let’s look at ways we can keep the playful / fun in our couple relationships.
Schedule Time for Fun. That may sound not too playful. But for some folks it is the only way “fun” happens. This can be a weekly date night or date day. It is a great start. This can evolve into more spontaneous playfulness
Create the Atmosphere and Space for Spontaneous Playfulness. Inject a light heartened response, initiate playful behavior, be flirtatious, etc. Be a “playful person” whenever you can. All this contributes to a more light, positive feeling. Share more positive than negative to help allow for more playfulness to emerge.
Recognize and Remember the Value of Keeping a Playful Connection. This is a basic core piece of a healthy, vibrant relationship. A playful connection is needed to keep our relationship alive and well. It is a component that we need to nurture and see as important.
Couple Time is not Group Couple Time.Sometimes we will lump spending time with a group of friends as a couple activity. It is and it is not. True couple time is just the two of you focusing on each other and having fun and being playful together.
Brainstorm What Playful Things You Want to Do Together. Update with each other what you feel you are missing or really want to do that would make you feel more connected and more happy. Then put them into action.
Family Play Time
Playing together as a family is so “up there” as to healthy family functioning. It helps to build strong, connected relationships. This in turn helps as we do the job of guiding and leading our children. Children respond more cooperatively and have a stronger attachment to parents when the relationship is a balance of playful connection and positive guidance.
In our busy, full lives it can feel challenging to incorporate time for play. But we really need to do so. It may mean looking carefully at what our children and we as adults are involved in. We cannot do it all as much as we would all like to. Of course age of children and special circumstances will play into our decisions.
Things to Consider in Planning Family Play Times
Consider your children and their age, choosing something that is a developmental fit / age appropriate for them. This will increase their enjoyment as well as yours. In addition, this will set the stage for a successful family play time.
Think about what your children enjoy, what their passions are and try to make sure these things are a part of the mix. This does not mean we cannot expose them to new things. Alternating what is done with family play time with the different interests within the family is a good thing – helping to give children the gift of being tolerant and ok with doing a variety of things.
Create a balance of at home and out of the home play times. This is a great modeling of helping children know you can create your own fun in your own home and know you do not have to have a lot of money to do so. Of course it is fun to do adventures out of the house. But again they do not have to be grand vacations. There is lots to do locally and within neighboring towns. And of course, special vacations are great as well.
Parent / Child Dates for Individual One on One Time. It can be very connecting to have one on one Parent / Child Dates or Play Times if you feel your children crave individual time. Of course this means making sure all your children have their turn to keep harmony within your family.
I wish for you a deep rejuvenation and more happiness as you experience more play in your life. And I wish you well as you as create more playful times within your relationship.
PROFESSIONAL DISCLOSURE: THIS BLOG IS OFFERED AS EDUCATIONAL INFORMATION AND IS NOT OFFERED AS PROFESSIONAL THERAPEUTIC SERVICES. THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO SERVE AS TREATMENT. FOR PROFESSIONAL HELP CONTACT YOUR LOCAL MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. STROM INDIVIDUAL AND FAMILY THERAPY IS NOT LIABLE FOR ANY ACTION OR NON ACTION YOU TAKE IN REGARD TO THIS ARTICLE.
This can be hard, deciding when your child is ready to begin watching PG-13 movies. There is a lot of PUSH to allow children to see PG -13 movies earlier and earlier. Movies are a favorite pass time for children and also movie going can be a fun parent / child or family activity. Here are some things to think about as you decide what is best for your child:
All PG -13 movies are not the same. So this may mean evaluating each of these movies beforehand if your child is on a border line as to their readiness for viewing PG – 13 movies in general.
The title PG – 13 gives some guidance as to the themes and the general idea as to the age that most children are ready for these kinds of movies.
Is MY child ready for this movie, developmentally and emotionally? Can they understand cognitively what the message is of this movie and can they handle what is portrayed in this movie? Are they ready to process violence or sexual themes or death if the movie deals with these kind of issues?
Is the message of this movie one for the age of my child?
Is it a message I want my child to have?
Get reviews on the movies. Check what the themes are. Go see it yourself before hand if you really are uncomfortable or unsure and feel you need to see it to decide.
It is so challenging as a parent when your child says all their friends are seeing a movie you feel they are not ready for and they say they want to see it. There are no perfect answers. Sometimes it is a compromise of letting children see a movie that is slightly above what they probably need if all of the children in their class have seen it and your child is feeling isolated and left out and not able to relate with the other children. Then there are other times when we feel for our particular child that they will have nightmares for weeks or it will create a fear they do not need to have at this point and that it just will not work.Parents have the tough job of evaluating and deciding what is best for their own child.
Going to the movies with your child can give you the advantage of discussing and giving your own thoughts to your values as a family, especially if the movie portrays very different values than you have as a family. It can help by finding out what your child is thinking and by you being able to help them process what they have seen.
Plus, parent / child or family movie going can be fun. And can create wonderful opportunities for discussion and sharing. Even if your child’s friend is invited, going to supervise opposed to dropping off gives you a chance later to visit with your child about the movie.
Movies have the opportunity to promote wonderful models and stories that are inspirational. Sometimes they do this and sometimes they do not. We can help guide or encourage movies that do so. Good luck in navigating the challenging waters of PG – 13 movies. Your child is lucky to have you as a thoughtful parent who assists with knowing the best time for this transition into this category of a movie.
Here is to finding lots of movies that matter and promote what we want for our children and their internal messaging!
Taking a recent vacation made me think about how our plans many times do not go the way we think they will. You are correct that my vacation did not go exactly as planned or envisioned in my head. But I adapted, shifted and had a great time.
Yes things do not always go as we expect. This can be with a vacation or a family outing or a date night or really any kind of activity that we have planned to do together as a couple or as a family. I am a big planner and I believe in thoughtfully preparing for outings with our loved ones. On the other hand somethings spontaneous, let’s go . . . can be very romantic or real fun for a family. So I guess a balance is nice. We each will have our own style.
Regardless if you have a PLAN or you are doing a spontaneous outing, being able to roll with the flow is important. Our lives are so busy and complex and things shift quickly. Plus, the biggie here is that we can not control everything around us. We can not control that the restaurant is out of our favorite dish or that the air conditioner breaks on our fun day trip or that a thunderstorm appears out of no where and you have to cancel or shift your outdoor outing.
So how can we better ROLL with the FLOW?
First of all accept that our planned or spontaneous event may not or probably will not go exactly as we had hoped for in our head.
Acknowledge your upset feelings or those of your loved ones. It is ok to be upset or disappointed. The key is WHAT WE DO WITH OUR UPSET OR DISAPPOINTMENT.
Accept and then say it is OK that it did not go exactly as we wished. We can still have fun and enjoy regardless of the hiccups or bumps in the road.
Remember we are capable of adapting and shifting. We are amazing human being with the ability to make the best of whatever the situation.
Shift to what you can doat that point. And know you can be ok with it.
Use your positive mindset to create a place of acceptance and regrouping.
Sometimes if we look we can find these unexpected needed shifts can open up opportunities that were not there before. Some folks would say there are no accidents!
It is that time of year – lots of green, growing things popping up everywhere. It can be so therapeutic to be a part of this process. Coming together as a couple or as a family and deciding what you want to plant and doing it together is a fun ongoing spring and summer project. Getting your hands in the soil planting and caring for your mini garden as a couple or family is therapeutic by nature. Then experiencing eating the food you have grown together is so rewarding.
This mini garden can be done in a variety of ways. It can be done in one big container or in a couple of containers – flower pots or a half whiskey barrel. etc. The other possibility is to use some of your flower beds.
Some possibilities are:
Herb Garden – Everyone gets to pick out a herb seedling or two or how every many you have room for. You will find many of these are perennial.
Tomato Garden – Each person choose their own variety of tomato plant to create a mini tomato garden.
Salad Garden – Everyone chooses one or two things that they want for their future summer salads.
Mini Garden with Your Favorites – Everyone picks out their favorite veggie or herb to grow.
I have always thought highly of Philbrook Art Museum and the programs they offer for the community. I got a recent email from them as a member about some of the upcoming programs. This is one they highlighted and one that I was not aware of. I called and visited with the Education Department and found that this is a program that has been offered for a couple of years and at this point is FREE to the public. ONEOK, Inc sponsors this program. You do not need to be a member of Philbrook. It is offered on the 2nd Saturday of each month. I would suggest looking on the Philbrook website www.philbrook.org and click on the tab LEARN at the of the screen to get more information on this program and make sure it is still scheduled . Of course you can get information on other programs offered for families and their children at this link also. My understanding is that this program is open from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm and is come and go and is for all ages. Family friendly art activities, tours and scavenger hunts are possible activities on these Second Saturday events.
This is a wonderful opportunity to explore together fun creative art projects and to expose your children to Philbrook. Art is so very therapeutic and a wonderful way to connect. I might also note that the garden trails behind Philbrook are a fun treat for all ages. Enjoy this creative time with your family!
Special Note: The trails behind the Philbrook are lovely and could also make a lovely Couples Activity. Plus, Philbrook’s restaurant overlooks the gardens and would be a nice special treat. I was told that Philbrook has some free entrance days. So check it out on their website.