Wednesday, 11 July 2012

PLAY! It's what we ALL need

My wife and kids came to pick me up from work yesterday afternoon.  My little one wanted to play some more at the playground out behind my work, so my wife and oldest daughter decided to go to the store to pick something up and would come back to get us.

So while they did that, I sat down to eat my lunch (finally!) and watch my little girl playing on the playground.  After a while she came over to me (at which point I'm lying and relaxing on my stomach in the shade on the grass) and she lies on top of me.  "Dad can I play your phone?" she asked me.  She has some games on there she really likes.  But it was so sunny and nice out, and she was having fun playing so I really didn't want her to stop and sit staring at a screen.

I suggested we go play over on the other side of the tennis courts in the row of trees.  Lots of shade, plenty of trees all lined up.  I knew that would excite her.... she's that kind of a kid.

So over we go.  What happened next was pretty cool.  And it proved that simple PLAY is all ANYONE needs to ease the mind and body. The trees were all different shapes and sizes, and often split at the trunk in two different directions, so there was plenty we could do with them.  We took off our sandals and started playing a simple barefoot tree game, kind of like follow the leader.  She would go through the tree trunk and show me how to get through each one, then I would follow. Some we had to climb up into the split and jump through, others you had to squeeze through in kind of a "vertical limbo" sort of way.  I'd grab the odd big branch and start walking up a trunk a few steps with my feet as I held on, just to make her laugh too.  She loved it! We were playing this game for about 15-20min, and I guarantee she could have played it for at least that much more.

It was one of those times that really hit me though.  Why can't we, as parents today, do more of this.  Why do we plunk our kids down in front of TV's, video games etc. when something so simple and pure awaits all of us right out our doors? Look at the benefits of our little "follow the leader" type game:

  • Imagination 
  • Simplicity
  • No "loading times" or "system freezes" possible
  • Movement
  • Strength (climbing aspect)
  • Flexibility (squeezing through some tight spaces in the trees required some maneuvering)
  • Play and fun
  • Fresh air
  • Constant feedback from the senses (mentally and physically)
  • Learning (teaching the body how to land from a jump or how to balance itself in an awkward situtation)
Simple. Nature. Fun.  An easy recipe for health and teaching your kids how to make the most of life.