“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

You can tell when someone has a playful spirit.

They just exude fun.

This is my grandmother, even now as she enters her 80s.

Always telling jokes. Always playing games. Always making us laugh.

Tipping us over when we were crouched down on the floor. If we whined, she’d ask, “Do you want a little cheese with that wine?”

Even now, when something really silly happens in our house, we often say, “That’s a Mom Mom thing.”

My mom, however, didn’t inherit that playful gene. She liked to take long walks with me. We cooked together. We talked.

But play? Not much.

Here’s the thing: It’s not easy to let go, be silly and surrender to being playful in life — as we learned last week when I posted a reader’s question on my Facebook page. The responses were incredible. So many moms admitted that they cannot stand to sit on the floor and play with their children, particularly imaginary play that forces our minds to leave our current state of mind and enter an unknown, uncertain and intangible fantasy world.

Researchers say that the main reason adults do not play is because of how serious our culture is about hard work and being productive.

Sound familiar?play

But, researchers also say that play is just as important for adults as it is for children.To live an awakened lifestyle, you need to let go and live a little and when you do that, the play will come more easily.Is there a rule that says we’re bad moms if we don’t play?No way.

I happen to be a big fan of playing. But, I’m also a big fan of sending my kids off to play by themselves or with the neighbors because all kinds of play is good for them — and good for me.

Being more playful in your life — is as much a part of waking up and letting go as we can be. This is the epitome of being Awesomely Awake. When we let go and find our happy place, we’re happier. When we’re happier, we’re better parents and partners.

You just have to know what play makes you happy. If creating artwork alongside your children makes you happy, that’s playing. If playing chase or jumping in leaves makes you happy, that’s playing. If dressing up and dancing silly dances makes you happy, that’s playing. If telling jokes and tickling your child makes you happy, that’s playing. If lying in the grass and finding shapes in the clouds makes you happy, that’s playing.

Playing is simply just living in the moment at your most happiest state. It’s when we feel most alive.

Click to tweet the above!

But, if you want to be a playful parent and you’re not … it’s not hopeless for you.

Like starting any good habit,  learning to play takes practice. That means changing a few mindsets about what play is and how we work it into our days.

It means we must set intentions and try to stick with them.

Each day, when you wake up, you can set the tone for having a playful day by creating your own playful intention — or you can use one of these below!

Here are 14 Playful Intentions for Serious Parents:

  1. I will tell jokes today.
  2. I will laugh more today.
  3. I will act silly today.
  4. I will be open to playful experiences today.
  5. I will choose play over screen time today.
  6. I will take 15 minutes to play today.
  7. I will relax more in my day today.
  8. I will smile more today.
  9. I will plan to make my children laugh today.
  10. I will surprise my family by being playful today.
  11. I will think like my child today.
  12. I will work less and play more today.
  13. I will choose play over my to-do list today.
  14. I will remind myself that play is living and I want to live more fully today.

And, here are some Play Resources to get you thinking.

25 Ways to Just Be with your Children

Play, Creativity and Lifelong Learning

22 Ideas to Get You Outside & Playing with your kids

Or, you can read my e-book, “The Playful Family,” which has nearly 100 ways to play, connect and engage — without having to turn into a pirate!

How about you? What inspires you to play, even when you’re exhausted? What resources do you rely on to play more with your children or to play as an adult? What play do you enjoy? What can’t you stand?


Play Photo Credit: Pulguita via Flickr

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