For two years I struggled with play. First of all my grandmother died, and it took me a long time to be able to recover my own sense of joy. I got through the day with caffeine. Then I got a book deal, and I simultaneously dealt with my grief, and became preoccupied with meeting my writing deadline.
I knew that writing a book was a wonderful opportunity, but somehow in my panic and nervousness to get things done on time, (with tea and chocolate to help!) I wasn’t really relaxing and being in the moment with my daughter.
When I finished the book I finally felt like I could stop and breathe a bit. I could relax and give up caffeine, along with that wired anxiousness that came with it. And what I found is that my natural instinct to play came back to me.
We’re all born able to play, it’s something innate to all of us. Sadly though we lose pieces of our playful selves along the way to adulthood. When we were young the adults didn’t always play with us when we wanted them to, or in the child-led way we loved. As we grow older and have more adult responsibilities we can lose touch with our fun selves. In last weeks blog post I talked about 5 tips for having fun with your kids.
- Make a mistake – Whether it’s when we’re tidying the house, or playing with our kids, or trying to get them to do something, making a mistake is guaranteed to get the giggles flowing. So tidy something away into the wrong place, and act all surprised saying, ”I didn’t mean to do that!” or pick up a book to read, but ‘read’ a teddy bear instead. As you exclaim ”whoops,’ and acted shocked your child will delight in you being the one getting things wrong. It’ll even help to build their confidence and make them feel more comfortable with making mistakes.
- Do something that you are sure is so silly it couldn’t possibly be funny! I think sometimes we forget that our children are so young that silly stuff will be funny. I know I’ll often do something silly like pick up a banana instead of answering the phone or put some socks in a saucepan instead of pasta. These things will often get a laugh, diffuse tension, and are ideal for those moments when you can feel stress levels rising.
- Recover your own sense of joy – I’ve heard this quote many times; that in Shamanic societies if a person was feeling depressed the Shaman would ask one of these four questions, When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence? If we’ve lost touch with what brings us joy, then it’s hard to bring joy to others. Remembering or discovering what we love can really help us to feel more able to spread joy with our children.
- Have a lazy day – Modern life goes at a rate that is not really compatible with our deep emotional well-being. Most of us probably need some time to unwind. Most of the laughter play I do with my daughter happens when we’re at home not thinking about what we have to do or where we have to go. Playlistening is about intuitively sensing what will make our children laugh. It’s a creative skill, and rest and relaxation is one of the things that can help to nurture our creativity.
- Follow your child’s lead – When we’re deeply attuned to our child we’ll notice that they often set up situations to make themselves laugh. So do some special time, and pick up on what makes your child laugh, repeat it for as long as they’re still giggling.
I hope this list helps to bring more laughter into your family life! What makes your children laugh? I’d love to hear what works for you, so please leave a comment 🙂