Each and every day I observe my girls' wonder-filled, curious, and playful nature. On my best days, I pause to participate in the moment. On all too many occasions, however, I find it very easy to get caught up in the tide of seemingly endless obligations from work, committees, appointments, chores . . . the list goes on.
It's been one year since I made it my personal mission to fit more play into my daily life and, in turn, my family's life. We make it a point to schedule fun and play with family vacations or weekend getaways, but what about all the time in between? What about the everyday moments? Play seems to come very naturally to my kids on a daily basis, but what about me?
With the goal of feeding my curiosity and infusing more play into my everyday, I have found the following exercises to be very helpful:
Create space for the unknown
I stopped scheduling every minute of every day. Maybe that means the laundry doesn't get done on Tuesday or my run doesn't happen right at 9AM after drop-off. I've found that everything eventually gets done, and the lack of a strict schedule allows me to focus on my mental, spiritual, and physical needs in the moment. Look at your day and see what space you can free up, even if it's only 30 minutes.
Switch up habitual patterns
Do you always take the same route to work or to the grocery store? What if you took an alternate route one day? If you always run or walk the same path, maybe you could find a new trail or even just traverse your current loop in the opposite direction one day. Do you always read fiction or stick to any other certain genre of books? You can see where I'm going with this. Identify your patterns and ask yourself if they are out of necessity (which in some cases they may be) or if you're simply doing things out of habit. If you lean towards habit, then switch it up and try something different.
Fake it 'til you make it
Some days I'm just not in the mood to join in the silliness of whatever it is my girls are doing. I've found that, more often than not, if I just fake it for a bit I can get in the mood. The next time you really don't feel like smiling at the person passing you by, just do it. You will likely brighten their day and your own as well.
This is one of my favorites and has been a lot easier to incorporate now that I've learned to create space in my schedule. My girls love it when I surprise them with a trip to the ice cream shop at pick-up or a "hooky day" from school or camps. What I love about this particular suggestion is that it truly feeds your soul. Sometimes you need something, anything, different than what was previously scheduled. Be careful not to use this as an avoidance tool, however, like "spontaneously" skipping your dentist appointment. This is an opportunity to practice listening to yourself and choosing yourself over the pressures of a packed schedule.
More date nights
Plan dates with yourself, your friends, or your significant other. It's important to carve out time to connect with yourself or others. Yes, it takes time and energy to make the plans and possibly find babysitters. Try to keep in mind that the quality and amount of energy you put into something typically equals the energy you get out of something.
How do you know what you want to do in life or who you want to be if you don't take the time to dream about it? Lay on your bed or outside under a tree. It doesn't matter where, just be still long enough to let your mind wander.
Take a class
Pick something you have always been interested in and take a class. This could be anything from a one-day workshop to a semester at the local community college and beyond. You never know where it will lead or who you might meet.
Think about how you filled your time as a kid, teenager, or young adult. Roll down the windows, turn the music up loud, and let your inner child out. If you are a parent, join in the game of hide-n-seek, shoot hoops with your kids, or play Candyland. The dishes can wait.
What do you do to feed your curiosity? Share your ideas in the comments below.
Peace + Play