Playtime should be a part of life

I was reading an article in a magazine the other night that discussed finding the child within us all once again. It went on to say that in this day and age, we really have lost the ability to ‘play’ and that re-connecting with our inner child is not only good fun but great for our mental health as well.
Before I poo-poohed the idea, I gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that the article writer is correct.
In this day and age, we have forgotten how to play.
Oh, I don’t mean sitting in the sandpit and making sand castles but if that is what you want to do, then there really is no reason that you shouldn’t. I mean finding joy in doing little things.
I asked myself what I think has changed about life that means we place a greater emphasis on working hard for material rewards and forgetting that there is more to life than great wealth or acquisitions. I asked myself how I have changed and how it came to be that I have lost that inner child.
Please don’t think that I believe that you shouldn’t have a strong work ethic because I do. HoweverΒ  there needs to be balance and somehow over the years, this balance has been lost.
At some point in our lives, we replace the enjoyment of simple times with guilt for not being productive.
I am guilty of this myself. If I take the time to lay on my bed (or the couch) for a nanna nap, my mind starts talking to me and saying things like “You really shouldn’t be wasting time. Get up and go and do the dishes, weed the garden, sand those chairs, work on that quilt etc etc” and the guilt begins to set in. But why do I feel guilty for taking the time to recharge my batteries, or for curling up with a book to read just for fun (and not for self improvement or as part of my studies)?
My question is “Why should I feel guilty for taking a little time out for myself”?
Sure, it’s great to be a contributing member of society and our to our families, but when did it become wrong to make time to do something you love and play?
We all grow up and put away the things of childhood but when did ‘growing up’ become ‘growing boring’ and forgetting how to have fun?
How many times have we said about another person “Oh he/she has never grown up” like it is a bad thing? Perhaps that person has just realised that it can be fun to hark back to our childhood and take time out to do something for the sheer pleasure of it all.
When was the last time you laughed and danced in the rain? And if you didn’t, why not? Was it because dancing in the rain is consideredΒ  ‘childish’ and wasting time that could be spent doing something much more productive?

There is a bible verse that talks about becoming as little children and learning what the kingdom of Heaven is like in doing so. It has been interpreted in many ways over the years with the most common interpretation being that ‘becoming as a child’ means to be trusting, honest and innocent. What if it also meant being joyful, happy, and playful? Doing things for the sheer joy that doing that brings? Kind of makes Heaven a great place to look forward to doesn’t it?

It’s a hard road learning to let go of the guilt for not being productive every waking moment but it is one that I am more determined than ever to break. With that in mind, I started reading a book last night that I last read when I was a teenager still attending high school. It was the very first fantasy styled book I had ever read and I have always remembered it with fondness. So when I found it on a book stall at a market yesterday, I knew that I had to have it. The vendor (who also happened to be my mother) asked if I was giving it to the Tween to read.
I replied “Yeh sure, she can read itΒ  AFTER I have!”.
I am going to take the time to rediscover my joy and spend some time in unproductive ‘play’ as I read the book once again. And I am determined to beat down the guilt as I do so.

So, what type of ‘unproductive’ play time do you enjoy?

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33 thoughts on “Playtime should be a part of life

  1. I’m not good at play, I’m afraid. But I can immerse myself in whatever I’m doing when I’m away from home, especially when I’m traveling. And I can certainly enjoy a good nap and a hearty laugh. Still, I’ve been too deeply trained to be productive that I have to ask myself why. Why be productive? For the sake of being productive? I don’t think so. It’s so we — and others we affect — can live fully.

    By the way, I think the wonderful craft work you do is play — assuming you enjoy it and lose yourself in it while you are doing it.

    All in all, I completely agree with the article, and with your response to it. We need to cut loose. What is this idea that we only “deserve” life when we have worked hard for it. I notice in commercials — especially thodr aimed toward women — that “they” often tell us we should have the shoes, or the clothes, or the spa, or whatever, because we “deserve” it. Why not because we are alive and it enhances our lives?

    Thanks for raising this very important issue.

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  2. I spent decades unable to enjoy the small joys of my life, because I thought I had to be moving and doing something all the time. It was called anxiety. That little voice that says you may not color with the children, because there are dishes to do and rugs to shake and floors to sweep. But mine spoke to me even in high school, telling me to finish studies before riding bicycles with my friends.
    I seek balance now, and I err on the side of play. I deserve it because my therapist told me I do, and my family, my pets, and my body all thank me.
    I enjoy puttering around the garden, sewing, reading, internet, dvr, naps and what’s better than the ultimate adult pleasure?!?

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    1. Ha ha Joey. True that πŸ™‚
      I don’t know how this whole ‘productivity’ thing became so ingrained within me. I guess that is why I am always doing something and have so many projects on-the-go at the same time.

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  3. This is a great post, Sue. Like you, I have a hard time relaxing without feeling guilty over it. Actually, anything that I enjoy doing usually comes with guilt, blogging being one of them. I suppose that’s the answer to your question then. This is my downtime play activity, and of course mountain day trips too. I can’t forget that one.

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    1. That’s great that blogging is your downtime. I enjoy spending time on the computer but I am mindful of it taking up too much of my day that could be spent doing something else. I wonder why that is?

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  4. I like being here in word press lol. I also like sitting out on our new deck and looking at the ducks quacking in the pond. That gives me shear joy and feels similar to when i was a child looking at the birds. πŸ™‚

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    1. There you go again…. rubbing it in that you have a great back deck where you can relax!! πŸ˜€ rofl
      Seriously though, that sounds so wonderful and I can see how you love it so much.

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  5. I LOVE this post! Play is an important part of my life. When I became a parent I rediscovered play. I found that not I not only enjoyed the time with my sons, but that the play itself was good for me. I think it is an important part of parenting to show our children that we know how to find joy in life and books and art and pretty paper (ok, maybe the stash is getting out of control). πŸ˜‰

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  6. H took his band kids on an end of the year fun trip to a water park last week and as we floated along the lazy river for a few hours all I could think about was how much work I had left behind at home! Sad. 😦

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    1. I find that when I am away from home that I am able to relax a lot more. I guess at home I am reminded of all the things that need to be done. The sad thing is that whether I do all those little chores or not, it won’t change my life.
      I do know what you are saying.

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  7. Great post, Sue… I love lying flat on my back on a grassy surface and just waching the clouds go by – one thing about living in the UK is that we almost always have clouds in the sky… It’s one of my favourite childhood relaxations I’ve rediscovered again over the last few years, and it’s my way of reminding myself I am a human being, not a human doing! πŸ™‚

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    1. I haven’t done that in so long. I have very strong memories of laying on my back in the grass with my brother when I was about 10 or 11. We were watching the clouds and talking. It’s funny how that memory has always stuck in my head. πŸ™‚

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  8. Again, I can totally relate to what you are writing. Guilt. I’m an expert maker of guilt for myself. What unproductive thing do I do? I try to sleep when I know I can’t. Seriously, I snuggle with one of my cats and just feel their fur, listen to them purr, and feel guilty.

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  9. Oh, this is so true. I’m constantly beating myself up for not being productive every minute of the day. Then I spend all this time stressing about what I didn’t get done, and actually get less done than if I had just let it go.

    I love to sit outside and enjoy my garden, daydream and of course dance around the living room. I just might do that now πŸ™‚

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  10. Great topic you have written on Sue.
    I dont think I will ever grow up, people tell me all the time to grow up, but I have so much fun in life and can find anything to like and laugh about.
    Will I grow up to please others ? no
    I rather think I am a modern day Peter Pan.
    Regards
    Emu aka Ian

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