The Lost Art of Play

Today is Day 30 of my #LifeOnPurpose challenge. Only 10 more days to go! Whoohoo! Through this challenge, I’ve learned a lot about myself and about slowing down and being intentional in my day, but it has been a lot of work!

I better not get ahead of myself, though. I still have one and a half weeks to go!

Today was funny. My challenge for the day was to explore nature with Theo, continue to teach him how to respect his environment and to have a little fun along the way. To do this, I told Theo we were going to fill his bug house with plants, leaves and sticks to create a fun environment for the second part of our activity – catch bugs! Doesn’t that sound like a nice educational activity? Little did I know that I was the one in for an education.

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The bug catcher
The Bug Hilton Garden Inn
The Bug Hilton Garden Inn

Theo and I had a blast scouring our yard for unusual things for him to fill his bug house and me to fill my “bug jar” to create a cozy environment for the bugs. I’m always amazed at how calm, observant and intentional Theo is when he is working on a project, especially when he is outside!IMG_6923

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My "bug jar"
My “bug jar”

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Waiting for a toad to come out from his hiding place. I didn't bother to tell Theo that yelling "come out toad" wasn't really going to work.
Waiting for a toad to come out from his hiding place. I didn’t bother to tell Theo that yelling “come out toad” wasn’t really going to work.
Looking for bugs
Looking for bugs

After creating our bug houses and filling them with exactly one bug (I’m a little rusty at this), we decided to continue enjoying the day by riding bikes. IMG_6940

As we raced up and down the driveway on our bikes, I was hit by how much fun the whole morning had been. As I’ve mentioned in the past here on His Girl Friday, I love being outside. Yet, this morning’s activities felt enjoyable in a whole new way. And then it hit me: we were playing.

How long has it been since you’ve played in the dirt and looked for bugs? I don’t mean weeding or planting flowers or admiring nature from a walking path.

I mean, how long has it been since you’ve played?

I’ve always prided myself on being a mom who likes to interact and play with her kids. And yet, it wasn’t until today that I realized that while I may be great at spending time with my boys, I’m not especially great at playing with them.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are a host of other tasks, responsibilities and commitments to attend to that take precedent over playing with our kids. And truthfully, we are here to take care of our children, so by taking care of the things that make our/their life work, we are in fact loving them. So please don’t misunderstand me or worse, feel like I’m saying good parents play with their kids every day. This isn’t a judgment thing.

Instead, what this morning was for me was a realization that I’ve lost a little bit of the art of how to play. It doesn’t come quite as natural any more. I’ve spent more years than not trying to avoid bugs, not find them. Having children though has reminded me how much fun play can be. It’s refreshing!

It is amazing how kids have the innate ability to turn anything into a play object. It’s quite infuriating, actually. Today, after Theo and I were done with our bug houses and had moved on to riding bikes, Theo grabbed his bug house and strapped it across the front of his bike. He told me it was his headlight. IMG_6935

Today I was reminded what it means to play. I means to find enjoyment in the simple things, to have fun, and be free. We may not all have kids. But we all were kids. We all have those special memories from our childhood that instantly bring a smile to our face as we think, “that was fun.” For me, I used to love running through rain puddles. Next time it rains, I’m going to put down my camera and join Theo as he splashes in the rain.

So take a moment this week to think through what it means to you to play, and go out and have some fun :-).

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