If you have a moment, ask yourself this question: When was the last time you felt a silly, or laughed out of sheer enjoyment? When was the last time you did something completely unproductive…but light and joyful?

If you can’t remember the last time you had fun, that’s okay. Many parents are in Action mode all day long because Doing Nothing Useful feels doesn’t reduce the pressures associated with long To Do lists. I get it.

But sometimes we get so far into the groove of Doing that we forget how to relax. In fact, those who feel the need to be constantly in motion often find slowing down can actually feel stressful.

Being in Action mode can also be a strategy for coping with loneliness, depression, or anxiety. That’s why some people find it painful to practice mindfulness; stillness creates space for buried feelings to emerge, and without support, that isn’t always a good idea.

If you’re someone who has a hard time getting out of the Fast Lane of life. or if your kids complain that you’re always making them “do stuff,” here are a few suggestions:

     1. Give everyone in your family a piece of paper and a pen, and sit down to write down at least ten fun things you each like to do. Make sure you do not include things that might feel good to accomplish–like cleaning out the garage–but don’t have the Fun Factor. The activities on this list should not include things that happen on a digital device. We’re talking old-school play here!

     Ideas include chasing your kids around the yard, playing Hide and Seek, having a dance party, blowing bubbles, jumping rope, or flying paper airplanes.

     2. Compare notes, and by all means, cheat! If your partner or child writes down something that sounds fun, copy it onto your list!

     3. Take out your calendar and block 20 minutes to an hour in the next 3 days to do one or some of the things on your lists. In other words, make an appointment to have fun!

If this activity fills you with dread, that’s okay; it may indicate that you’re sinking under the weight of everything you have to do–in which case you need extra support. Or it could be that you’ve simply forgotten how to let go and get a little goofy. Thankfully, our kids can be excellent teachers!

One of the best ways we can connect with our children, reduce stress, and maintain a calm, regulated state is to bring more play into our lives. I hope this week finds you having yourself some good old-fashioned fun!

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