Playing outside is an important way for kids to get exercise, socialize with friends and family, and to mentally recover from the stresses of everyday life. Active movement, sunlight, and games help kids to develop their motor skills, to relieve stress, and to improve their overall wellness. What many parents don’t consider, is that those are all reasons that they themselves should consider taking a turn on the swing in the backyard on a sunny day.
Manage Your Sensory Inputs
Adults often do a poor job of managing their own sensory environment. When we get behind on our work, it’s often because we feel overwhelmed by our noisy, artificially lit work environments, and can’t focus. Instead of trying to deal with the problem, many of us will try to deal with this by spending even more time at work to catch up. In doing so, we make ourselves even more stressed, more uncomfortable, and less effective.
Instead of this downward spiral, we need to consider the root causes of the issue. Like our kids, and anyone else, our minds work best when we’re exposed to a diverse and broadly stimulating environment. Overloading a few senses while neglecting others is a recipe for disaster. Getting out of the office to feel the wind, smell some trees and dirt, and engage our motor cortices for a few minutes a day is often all it takes to reset our brains and get us back on track.
Get Diverse Exercise
Parents don’t generally have time to engage in a lot of fitness training. Every moment is packed with work, kids, social obligations, and meeting all the other requirements of everyday life. Those of us who do work out often barely have time to do one thing, perhaps jogging, going to the gym, or playing a sport on the weekends. As a result, most of us slowly lose our shape, adopting unhealthy postures, gaining weight, or slowly damaging our cardiovascular health.
Simple, unstructured play is a way to help deal with this. Swinging, throwing and kicking balls, climbing, running, and jumping work out practically every muscle in your body. It doesn’t have the same effect as serious fitness training, it’s an amazing way to improve your overall physical fitness, loosening muscles, improving poor posture, and strengthening the body in general.
Taking Constructive Breaks
As busy adults, we don’t generally think about taking breaks at all, much less ensuring that those breaks make our lives better. A coffee break feels nice in the moment, but it doesn’t take us away from the stresses of our lives as well as play can. Play gives you the opportunity to temporarily disconnect from the responsibilities of adulthood, and to better understand your children while reconnecting with the simple fun of your own childhood.