Intentional Play.

This blog post is an extension of a Podcast conversation I recently had with my dear friend, Katey with The Drawn Collection.

I was able to enjoy a long winter break from grad school, which recently came to an end. Wow, I loved having one less thing to keep up with! But here I am now, working a demanding job, keeping up with two young kids, maintaining a relationship with my spouse, blogging and simply being a human being living during a pandemic – it is a lot! My days are full; sometimes bursting at the seams.

I find that being intentional with my time and attention is my secret weapon against the ever present threat of burnout. I have to be intentional at both the macro and micro level. 

Here’s the interesting thing though, I find we (and by “we” I mean “I”) spend so much time thinking about how to be intentional around issues of productivity and forget we must be equally intentional about time in the leisure-zone. We must balance productivity with play. 

Why should you play?

If you Google “benefits of play for adults” you will instantly find a lengthy list about how it relieves stress, keeps us young, improves relationships and boosts creativity, to name some benefits. For me, embracing a life that seeks play is about me embodying the Proverbs 31:25 – “she laughs without fear of the future.” I need to be someone that intentionally embraces light-hearted living. Especially in a time in which our world is plagued by a pandemic and experiencing tough and divisive times. 

So why should you play? Because you need it to offset the heavy and the dark. Lighten up and intentionally build time for play into your busy day. 

What is play anyway?

It is so easy to identify play within children! It can involve brightly colored action figures, navigating imaginative worlds, crafts and creating. It often is marked by smiles and laughter and helps the child explore his or her world through the activity. It is the most beautiful type of early childhood learning, in my opinion.

But what about adults? We stop playing and get too busy adulting. For adults, play can be trying something new for the first time, board games, brain teasers, or cooking a new recipe for fun. It could be taking a trip to the local famer’s market to explore new tastes and textures. It might not involve brightly colored action figures but hopefully it will be a time marked by smiles and even some laughter. 

How do I play?

I’m coming to you as someone who is constantly chasing this need for balance and time in the relaxation zone. I thrive being productive and seeing measurable results seems to fuel me on. It takes discipline and intention to step into places that could be perceived as doing nothing or doing something with no measurable-outcome in mind. I struggle to relax.

One of my favorite ways to play is getting together with my family who is in my Quaren-Team and playing the card game Five Crowns. This game is always laced with lighthearted verbal jabs, tons of laughter, a mental challenge, and time with people I love! While I’m playing Five Crowns I don’t have the time or inclination to think about work, needs at home, or the kids homework. I am able to fully lose myself in the time with people I love, while playing a fun game. That is beautiful play in action!

Having children also invites me into their imaginative world of play. In order to really benefit from our play time together, I have to be willing to show up fully present and put my phone down. We usually play as we dance through the house together, play tag outside, or when we get wonderful winter weather – we can play through sledding and snowman building. 

I also love creating digital photo albums for my family. I find that tinkering with the design and coming up with clever captions invites my brain into a creative place that refreshes and brings nothing but pure enjoyment. I find myself delighting in the processes and feeling recharged after time placing and arranging photos within meaningful layouts.

How will you play?

Play can look so different for each and every person! My version of play may sound horribly boring to you – no worries! Identify what unlocks your inner child and invites you into a carefree and fun place. Be intentional with that which will fill your cup, lighten your days, and refresh you – be intentional with play!

What do you think? (leave a comment!)

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