Remembering to Play When the Kids Are Away

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I read this quote recently and thought of my kids who are all really good at “play”, even though they are now in their early 20’s. They are all playing college sports. The girls still play Just Dance together when they are home and dance until sweat drips down their beautiful faces. My son (gently) swings a golf club in the house and wanders around with a hockey stick in his hand! He is always trying to get guys together to throw a ball or play ice hockey when he’s home.

Over the holidays, when I was with my own kids, other 20-somethings and little ones, I played. I’m good at play when my kids are home on breaks. I sing (really poorly-pretending I’m an opera singer!), play cards, board games, play in the snow, visit the indoor golf range, dance with them and engage in other fun activities.

When my kids are away, I do not play. (Nice rhyme, huh? :)) It’s been hard to play the same when they are not around.

Why? Well, the first thing I could come up with is that we tend to be utterly ourselves in the presence of those we live with. We goof off with our bed-head hair and laugh without the ever-present self-consciousness we possess outside of the house. I am most comfortable with them. They are also fun people, so it’s easier to have fun when people are fun.

I had invited a few women over for an evening visit recently and I suggested we play a game. To my joy, they agreed and we ended up laughing and having a good time. After that, I had over some friends and we did a girls movie night. I realized that I need to start generating some “play” on my own since these kids of mine are spending less and less time in the nest.

Some adults are great at play, while others not so much. Many set aside time for weekly game night, poker night, couples night out or whatever. I just haven’t figured out my space yet. I’m better with the empty nest in recent months, but I’m still figuring out a few things, including my play time :).

One lesson I’ve learned is that half of “play” is getting it right in my mind. If “this” isn’t done, then I have no business playing. Wrong mindset. The chores, to-do lists, obligations…they never end. I have also learned to relax more with others, permitting myself to have real fun – absent kids. Play must be prioritized and not thought of as a luxury.

Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, reminds us that play “takes us out of a sense of time and place”. Source. As an adult, I tend to watch “time” more than necessary.

How often do we see kids jump out of the pool, run up to the house and ask, “Is it time to finish my chores? Should I get out of the pool to vacuum? Organize the basement?”

Kids are often unaware of time because they are enjoying themselves. Part of restructuring my life as a Mama whose nest is a little quieter these days includes giving myself permission to lose track of time… See the source image

 

 

4 thoughts on “Remembering to Play When the Kids Are Away

  1. JanBeek February 8, 2019 / 1:30 pm

    I love this post! Our grandson just moved out to join the Job Corps after spending the month of December and part of Jan./Feb. with us. While he was here, we set up a ping pong table downstairs. He & Grampy played almost daily. Now that we’re “empty-nesters” again, I need to go down there and PLAY with Gramps myself! (I’ll ask him to play left-handed, of course) 🤪

    Liked by 2 people

    • Family to the 5 Power! February 8, 2019 / 2:30 pm

      Isn’t it crazy how fun we become when the younger ones are around? I hope you both keep the ping pong tournaments going!

      Like

  2. Author Ryan Callahan February 8, 2019 / 9:51 am

    Amen! I was a Recreation major in college. 🙂 I remember leisure being defined as doing something away from the constraints of time and toil. It is always good to take a break and play! I love playing with my kids! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Family to the 5 Power! February 8, 2019 / 12:52 pm

      Moving away “from the constraints of time and toil”…that is a good thought and important for adults to do!😊

      Liked by 1 person

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