Why Playing Together As Family Is Important: Not Just For Kids

Mom, dad and kids playing football

I have a confession to make, I am not good at play time. My first reaction to just about any situation is to “do what needs to be done”. For example, my daughter Sophia is playing with her little kitchen and a few feet away is a basket of clean, unfolded laundry. My first reaction would be to not engage in play time with Sophia and fold the laundry. A lot of the time, I unfortunately “do what needs to be done”. This trait is something I really do NOT like about myself.

After reading the chapter for the month of May in The Happiness Project, it really made me think about my interactions not only with Sophia but with my husband and Oscar, our dog. I will say that after I had Sophia the house does not get cleaned all the time and the laundry usually falls behind. There is GREAT value in play and that is why the struggle to play vs. work is so hard. When I do play I feel like I have let my hubby down by not getting the laundry done and when I work I feel like I have let Sophia down. I know I am not the only mom that feels this way but the struggle is REAL!

Gretchen Rubin talks about four different ways to play and all of them were very difficult for me.

Find More Fun

Finding more fun is all about doing something that is fun for ME. Not for hubby, Sophia, or Oscar but for ME. I had to really stop and think about the things I did on a day-to-day basis and figure out what I was doing for fun. Turns out I do A LOT of things that I enjoy but hardly a thing that is truly fun. For example, I really enjoy blogging, cleaning, and organizing however I would not classify those as truly fun activities. Something that is truly fun to me would be a family day, date with hubby, or going dancing.

I have come to realize that my fun activities can tend to be harder to organize. When I came to this realization, it made me realize something else I need to be deliberate about having fun. This will be a challenging task for as long as I live. Let me be clear, I am not upset by the fact that I do not do “fun” things everyday. I love my life and my family and do a lot of things that I enjoy, I will just need to put some effort into having more fun for me.

Take Time To Be Silly

This one tends to be easier when you have a child. Children are silly by nature so I just take my cue from Sophia and engage in the silliness. I also do my best to think, “What would hubby do?”. He tends to be more playful and silly than me so I just channel my inner self and do what he would do.

Go Off Path

Going off the path is tough for me when I am by myself. When I go places by myself I get in efficiency mode and hardly ever take a detour. However, when I am with other people I am more likely to either be ok with or suggest going off the path. I am not sure why that is but I become more adventurous with others.

Start a Collection

Starting a collection is a tough one. Clutter and nick knacks drive me crazy. I do not like to have extra stuff around that does not have a purpose. Purging belongings happens a couple of times a year for us because there are so many things that we do not need and someone else will actually use. When I thought about starting a collection I got very mixed feelings. Part of me feels like it is a waste of money and space but then on the other hand I think about people I know who have a collection of some sort and it is really interesting.  The jury is still out on this one and I am ok with that. Finding something to collect does not need to happen right away. It should be the right thing at the right time.

Read also: 8 Ways To Bring Happiness Into Your Marriage

This chapter was challenging to read. It made me evaluate how I really spend my time and what I am doing to make myself happy. Fortunately, Hubby is constantly improving in this area. He is good at noticing when I need a fun day/activity just for me. I am so thankful that he takes that initiative! If you do not have someone who does that for you make a point to plan something fun just for you. Mark it on your calendar so it is set in stone and is not some vague idea that you will eventually get around to.

Why Play is Important For Happiness in Family

Mom playing with son outside

Strengthening the bond within the family

All kids feel happy when they see their parents play with them. The bonding between family members is strengthened and talks and negotiation promotes the ability to communicate. Kids learn through play how to link different activities: building a tree house with Dad and doing research with an experiment box, or making pottery along with Mom. Thinking is also stimulated by logic and kids get involved using all their senses.

The age of the children is not important, as even teenagers enjoy playing board games with their family. Older children enjoy being together as it is a nice change from today’s occupations (such as the Play Station or surfing the Internet).
Other important factors of play

Playing promotes concentration and perseverance

When your child loses at play, he or she needs to be persistent so that he or she doesn’t get discouraged in these unpleasant situations. You can be a role model and demonstrate to your children that losing in a game isn’t necessarily the end of the road. With time your child will grow more accepting of frustration and will become more determined.

Playing can boost confidence in oneself

Through learning new things while playing Your child is able to achieve the joy of success, which will make him feel happy and increase his confidence. A child is thrilled to be able to catch objects, and an elementary school student is able to learn more through tests.

However, learning does not mean presenting your child with lots of educational games to prepare him for school. Your child takes the initiative to play in an authentic and useful way, and the game must first of all be fun! Without realizing it, children learn many useful things for the rest of their lives.

Playing trains many of children’s abilities and is important for strengthening motor and intellectual development. Give your child the freedom to discover new things. Consistent and loving parenting will help your child to handle difficult situations in play without your help. We need to ensure that children are in a happy and protected environment and that they can discover the world by playing in their own way.

I really felt tested this month and I know both moms and dads struggle with the same things I am struggling with. When to play and when to work. When to do accommodate someone else in play time and when to have play time for me. I would love to know how you deal with the juggling work and play! Please feel free to share your thoughts below!


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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