Seven weeks into fatherhood, and I’ve already learned quite a bit. If you missed my first installment of Breaking Dad, my intention is to share with you little things I want to teach my kids someday that still apply to all of us.
Over these past few weeks, I’ve been reminded of something I took for granted: make time for play.
I know we can all relate in some way, even if you don’t have kids. Life happens, responsibilities pile up, so making time for fun is pushed to the end of our to-do list.
Now I’m all for productivity, but sometimes taking time to play (with our spouse, friends, pets or children) leads to more productivity later. Here are just a few proven benefits of play:
- Relieves stress
- Improves brain function
- Boosts creativity
- Strengthen relationships
- Increases energy levels
It’s time to cut out the excuses and make time for play. Here are seven ways to incorporate more “play” into your life:
- Mute the TV and make up your own captions – Sure we all watch TV to relax, but muting the TV and using your imagination requires a bit of creativity. See how long you and a group of friends can keep it together.
- Play at work – Don’t be afraid to pull off some innocent pranks (a la Jim and Dwight).
- Go for a walk – You can do this by yourself or with a friend. Either way, pay attention to your surroundings and try to find things you’ve never noticed before (like a crack in the road or your neighbor’s butterfly wind chime).
- Dedicate a game night – Choose one night a week (or month) to play a board game, cards, or tag with friends or family. The hard part will be getting everyone together.
- Sign up for an intramural league – This one might be out of your comfort zone, but getting involved with a team will help you stay committed to having fun.
- Daily Sudoku or mind puzzle – Keep that mind fresh with a daily puzzle to solve. You can buy an old fashioned puzzle book or download an app (just make sure it’s not Candy Crush).
- Exercise – Sometimes it doesn’t feel like playing, but exercise is like the grownup version of recess. Fitting in 30 minutes a day can do wonders.
Obviously, it’s not going to be difficult for my little Henry to learn to play. But my goal as a father is to instill in him a lifelong desire to play. I can only do this by example.
What are your favorite ways to play? I’m sure I missed a few in my list above.