One of the most important things we learn in life is how to play together.
Children learn some of their most valuable lessons in life through play. They learn competency, rules, turn-taking, problem solving, but most of all how to have fun and enjoy life.
And for those of us who are “adults,” according to Benjamin Franklin, “We do not stop playing because we have grown old; we grow old because we have stopped playing” So this summer why not increase your fun and curb aging by playing with your friends and family members?
Plato said, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a lifetime of conversation.”
We know play is very important for brain development in children. Well-known parenting science expert and author Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., has written several articles, for example, on how play stimulates cortex growth by releasing neurochemicals that cause brain cell growth.
So if you want to not only stimulate your children's brain, but get to know them, build trust, open communication or simply increase your “cool” factor, play with your kids. For those of you who would feel silly pulling out the Barbies and playing dating game with Ken, play has many faces. Sometimes play is simply saying silly things, telling jokes, washing the car with you kids and having a water fight with the hose– just try laughing as much as possible, and you’ll get there.
If you feel like you’ve forgotten how to have fun, there are also adult outlets for play, like getting together with friends and joining a kick ball or soft ball team, preparing a meal together or simply going out for drinks after work. What’s important is that it is the process not the outcome you are striving for.
So if you choose something like teaching your kids to garden for your play, remember it is not about getting the entire garden completed in three hours. It is about laughing, learning, making mistakes in a non-judgmental environment, and the only goal is to have fun. A great side effect is feeling the stress flow out of your body.
So my challenge to you is to play as much as you can this summer and then try to continue to fit it into your lifestyle. Join an outdoor adventure club, pick a board game night with your kids, or spend a day with your significant other at an amusement park. And for those of you out there who are advanced players, play some more. You can never have too much play in your life.