When my kids were toddlers and babies, the days often were simply a blur. Most of the days were filled with playtime activities, lessons, and sports. Since I worked from home and taught part-time at a local community college, my husband and I often tag-teamed our child care. There was a point when I couldn’t remember the last time we had dinner together alone.
Playtime isn’t just for kids. It’s a vital component for adults as well. Sure, it’s a bit trickier to schedule in your own playtime, but I promise you, if you take time for YOU, you will become a much more rounded, and happier parent. The kids will benefit too.
Think back to what you did when you were a kid. What were some activities you really enjoyed doing? What activities can you revive and bring back into your life?
What did you and your spouse enjoy doing before you had kids? Brainstorm ways you can do those activities again. This time around, you might have to modify the activities, but with a little imagination and planning, you can make it happen.
You might find yourself with excuse after excuse of why you can’t fit in any playtime for you and your spouse or for yourselves alone. Here’s the most important lesson of all: you have to SCHEDULE playtime in your life! If you don’t, you will be sucked into the daily routine of 200 things that need to be done and you will sludge through week after week without realizing you’ve lost yourself in the process. Identify some fun things you want to do and block out the time so you and your spouse can play.
Form a babysitting swap with a close friend or neighbor. Even if it’s just for two hours, you and your spouse could grab dinner, play tennis, hit a trail, or whatever you can cram into a short time. You may be tempted to see a movie, but you’ll see a bigger return on time you can spend together doing something interactive. When the kids are older, you can exchange sleepovers and even do entire weekends with your babysitting swaps. This situation is a great win-win, as the kids will form friendships with other kids and at the same time, parents get precious time to focus on fun things to do.
Another way to look at playtime is to introduce the whole family to something fun you can do together. Invite your kids to enjoy the fun activities you love to experience and perhaps it will turn into something the whole family enjoys together. This is a great way to incorporate your playtime into family time.
Playtime can be your “alone” time as well. Whatever it is that you’re passionate about, take the time to dive in deep. I played in a volleyball league while my husband indulged in golf–and we took turns having our time with the kids while the other went off to play. Whenever money was tight, we figured out ways to have fun at home that didn’t cost a dime. We both loved massages–so we took turns becoming masseuses on a Friday night after the kids were in bed. A fun game of Scrabble brought out the old rivalry between us as we battled for points. We even dragged a TV into the bathroom and shared a relaxing bath while watching a movie. Of course, our current tub is much larger than the one we had years ago when we watched a Bears playoff game, but fun is fun!
We discovered that when we had our fun, we were much better parents because we had our time to play.