One of my favourite things about being a mum is that I can sing and dance my way through the day with my son. We delight in making up silly songs and actions, singing about the routine things we’re doing, and turning the music up to dance around the house.
I often imagine how hilarious it’d be if people did that at work! Maybe that’s just amusing to me.
Apart from satisfying my secret desire to be a musical theatre star (sadly, I never dedicated the time or effort to perfecting the skills required), the reason I love this is because it makes us laugh, feel good and feel connected every time.
Life can get stressful and serious. Responsibilities, schedules, bills and expectations fill our mind and days. It’s easy to get caught up in it all and forget to have a little fun.
Playfulness is good for you
Playfulness has been shown to have many benefits. It helps you:
- Cope with stress
- Improve your mood
- Be more creative
- Solve problems better
- Succeed academically
- Care less about what others think
- Attract other playful people
- Strengthen your relationships
And (pay attention now)
- Appear younger and more attractive to your man!
You laugh more when you’re playful. Research shows that laughter is good for us in many ways, including relaxing your body, protecting your heart (through improved blood vessel function), burning calories and boosting the immune system. It has even been found to temporarily reduce pain.
How can you become more playful?
I describe myself as a ‘work before play’ person. It’s hard for me to focus on something fun when I have work to do. I impatiently look for opportunities to get that important thing done. I have to remind myself that playfulness is important too.
To make it a bit easier, I try to incorporate playfulness into the things that need to get done. My son and I will do a funny walk to the bedroom to get dressed for the day or make up a silly song about the lunch we’re preparing. We make up stories about the things we see during car trips; ‘I wonder where all these people in their cars are driving to. Maybe they’re driving home for dinner, to see a concert, to play a game of football, to see their friends, to go shopping….’. When I’m tidying up the house, my son pretends to be a train driver and takes me from station to station around the house as I put things away. All Aboard!
If you’re thinking ‘I’m not a playful person’ or ‘I don’t know how to be playful’ (YET!), I’ve got great news for you; your children are the greatest example of playfulness there is!
Children naturally approach the world with excitement, curiosity and playfulness. They don’t see things as impossible or unrealistic. They try things out and invent new ways.
Watch and listen. And join in! Let them direct what you all do for an hour, or even a few hours. See what happens.
Playfulness can take seconds, minutes or hours. It can be a thought shared, a silly face pulled or a game played.
Here 25 ways you can inject a little playfulness into your day:
- Be present and observant of what is around you and look for things that are interesting or amusing
- Go with the jokes and banter that others make
- Dance like crazy to your favourite song
- Play some sport (preferably with others and just for fun)
- Think about what you loved to do when you were younger and do that
- Play with your kids. Follow and contribute to their imaginative play. (In our house, I’m regularly the voice of Elmo, Peter Rabbit, Thomas the Tank Engine and many more of my son’s friends.)
- Play a game – a board game, card game or any other game
- Do something you wouldn’t normally do. Break up the routine. For example, have breakfast on a blanket in the backyard, take a magnifying glass to the park to explore with the kids or catch the train to the park instead of driving.
- Ask each person in your family to share something they think is funny
- Sing while you do chores
- Laugh at yourself
- Pull funny faces
- Dress up (we often wear bunny ears around the house because my son loves Peter Rabbit. Some hopping required)
- Play with your pets (or someone else’s!)
- Reframe things to see the funny side
- Create fun little competitions, for example, who can balance on one foot the longest, who can get dressed the fastest, who can hold the most balloons at once, who can put all their toys away first.
- Make something, paint or draw
- Get outside with no agenda and explore
- Make up a funny story (you can do this with your family by taking turns to add a little bit to the same story. Little children can make simple choices such as what colour something is.)
- Tickle and play wrestle
- Play hide and seek
- Watch something funny on You Tube or TV, or read something funny
- Give fun names to the food that you serve (We have Percy spinach pancakes named after Thomas the Tank Engine’s green friend) or present it in a different way (my son loves little boats made out of pear cheeks and cheese, or french toast cut into teddy bears and hearts).
- Get some musical instruments (or make some with household items) and have an impromptu play along to a song
- Go on an adventure – go on a hike, try a new café, explore a new park, check out a new bookshop or library to find something great to read, try a new gym class, let the kids direct your walk, collect leaves and rocks at the park.
Playfulness can even help you get the little ones to do what you need them to do. Pretending to be a crane and lifting my son up (with crane noises) usually gets him smiling and cooperating again after being splayed on the floor and refusing to get out the door. And I’m sure we’ve all tried the aeroplane spoon to get them to eat!
Still need inspiration?
Spend more time with someone who is more playful than you. Pay attention to what makes them playful.
Being playful comes naturally to some. For others, it can be difficult. Some days you’ll feel too tired, stressed and irritable to even contemplate being playful. Sometimes the smallest joke or playful diversion from others will feel like an annoyance and inconvenience (my husband will tell you that I sometimes feel like that!). Accepting a bit of playfulness might just help the most at times like these!
My son and I have a little chat before he goes to sleep each night. I often ask him ‘what was something you thought was fun today?’. A few months ago, he started asking me first ‘what was your fun thing today mum?’. I love that he wants to know about what’s important to me. Even more, I love that this little 2-year-old reminds to be playful.
Do you need to power up your playfulness?
Here’s your Action Plan:
- What are 3 ways you can be more playful this week?
- Write them down somewhere visible (here’s a useful worksheet version of this action plan)
- Make them happen!
Now, I’d love to hear how you are going to be more playful. Jump into my Facebook group, or comment on this post.