By Theresa Boedeker
When was the last time you played? When have you done something so fun you lost track of time?
It might be that you’ve been focused on getting yourself healthy. Exercising regularly. Starting a new habit. Eating healthier. Volunteering more. Organizing our house.
Often, we forget about the importance of play throughout the year – the ability to lose ourselves doing something that brings us joy.
When did you stop playing?
Life easily gets mundane, and with routine comes difficulty finding space for laughter, pure joy and delight. It seems as we get older, play is not something we actively engage in. Something we pursue. An attitude we cultivate.
Somewhere between elementary school and college, maturity and responsibilities weigh us down, and we go a longer period of time without real play.
You are never too old to play.
First, put down your screens. Play takes mind space and attention. You can’t be laughing and playing hide-and-seek with the youngsters all while watching a video on your phone.
Play involves being in the moment. Losing yourself in the present and being spontaneous.
It requires some abandonment of what others will think, and can involve just yourself or othes.
Play reignites your curiosity about the world, yourself, and others. It involves keeping your senses open to new delights.
Being playful can deepen connection with ourselves, with God, and with others. Intentional fun even relieves stress and tension.
What keeps us from engaging in play?
1. We rush to accomplish more. Forgetting that there is never an end to doing.
2. We worry about what others will think. Or, we fear doing the wrong thing or being judged.
3. We think all our work should be done before we play. Forgetting that work and play can be combined if we are creative. We also forget that our work will never be done.
4. We think play is silly and frivolous for adults.
5. We find it hard to relax and let things happen.
6. We think play takes too much time and energy. We fail to think of the many benefits play provides.
What does play look like for you?
Here are some ways you can intentionally incorporate play this year:
- Spending time outside
- Gathering with friends
- Board games
- Silly time with kiddos
- Testing the playground equipment
- Playing basketball
- Teasing someone
- Flirting with your spouse
- Making mud pies
- Diving into a cold lake and screaming loud and long
- Dancing in the kitchen, even if everyone is watching
- Yodeling hello to the moon
- Hanging upside down from a tree branch
- Watching the birds
Play looks different for everyone. At the heart of play is an attitude, not an item on your to-do list. It’s choosing to enjoy something rather than ‘do’ something.
Find your happiness spot or sport and don’t worry about embarrassing your kids or if people are laughing at you. Sometimes when we think people are judging us, they are really wishing they were as brave as we are and could be a little more playful themselves.
Play on. You may inspire others to once again discover the joy of play.
Wife Step: What does play look like for you? How can you add more play to your life?
Theresa Boedeker has been married to her husband, her complete opposite, for over 30 years. They live in the Midwest and have two children, 15 years apart, and a few grandkids. Theresa daily hunts for humor and tries to bring forth laughter from others. She is passionate about helping women smash lies with God’s truth. Overcome shame. Learn to laugh at life and themselves. Notice God’s love and grace. And not be afraid of making mistakes. She unwraps life and faith at TheresaBoedeker.com. When she is not writing, she enjoys doing creative things like cooking, making jewelry, and taking photos of flowers (they never run from the picture).