Family Playtime

Family Playtime

How often do we actually set time aside to play, invent, imagine, make stuff up with our kids?

Time dedicated, purely for that – play – free from other distractions? Perhaps you do it all the time, in which case, bravo!

However, most families are busy juggling work, school, household chores, meaningful activities, exercise, trying to stave off guilt and console themselves with being good enough.

By taking time out for Family Playtime, everyone gets a break, a release from the busyness, into a fully immersive moment where the focus is spontaneity – a workout for the imagination and a bonding experience for the family with fun at its heart.

We all know instinctively the importance of play, that it is just as vital as rest and healthy food for our well-being, for young and old. And we all know, how easily we can drop this off our over-crammed to do lists.

By signing up for a Family Playtime, you can be assured that you have at least one weekly slot dedicated to play and its benefits for all.

Phew!

What are the benefits? Intergenerational play brings families together, through play we learn new skills, develop confidence and spark curiosity into the world around us, relax and have a laugh. We bond, spark off each other, work stuff out.

Families get a buzz and a boost out of working collaboratively, meeting other families plus the possibility of making new friends.

Children in the trial group reported how much they loved playing with their respective adults, reciprocated by the adults and couples also noted how they loved playing with their partners too.

Parents recognised that despite having the skills to play together, they rarely did. All reported they felt more sociable and grew in confidence over the session. One 4 ½ year old reported feeling ‘nothing’ at the beginning to ‘good’ at the end which his daddy said was ‘high praise indeed’.

In less than an hour, we witnessed the children (and adults) relax, come out of their shells and warm up to the activities, the concept of being seen by other families, interacting with their own family and others’ families.

By the end, we’d seen evidence of spontaneous play (and dress up), everyone had invented a family anthem and been on holiday around the globe, in some cases without getting out of their pyjamas.

‘It made us laugh’, ‘we’d definitely like to do this again,’ ‘a great way to start the weekend – such fun.’

On a serious note, through playing with their adults, children’s linguistic skills are stretched more than playing solely with their peers, that they practise more sophisticated problem-solving and greater creativity.

Evidence suggests that through intergenerational play, children learn more sophisticated social skills, develop resilience by managing emotions and turn-taking modelled by their parents and others. Most of the games require collaborative, quick, creative, problem-solving which helps to develop spontaneity, acceptance of outcome and confidence, thus keeping the brain active and flexible. Play experiences help to generate positive feelings and reduces stress for adult and child; a bonding experience and sense of satisfaction through fun-based activity.

Expect a variety of games in each session, plenty of movement based exercises combined with ones for the imagination all vital to our mental well-being. Though hard to measure, how wonderful to journey with one’s child into fantasy realms discovering that limitations are only self-imposed; and no one knows their child better than you.

Family Playtime helps the adult connect with their inner-child and reveal a different side of themselves with their child.

BOOK NOW

Every Saturday morning, for 45 minutes – 6 weeks for £60

On Zoom with an online facilitator experienced in child education and development.

Have you noticed anything different lately?

Noticing

Under Lockdown much of our life has been brought into sharp focus. For many of us it began with noticing what we’ve lost, such as key aspects of how we identify ourselves might have been lost: one’s job, position, income, status, home even.

Alongside such dramatic changes, many of us shared a new noticing. There seems to have been a collective appreciation of the small things, perhaps a particular brand of tea we craved, how our radishes grow, 6 Music, the freedom and feeling of directing one’s own time, of slowing down.

Let’s face it, in ‘Western’ culture, ‘modern’ life, most of us have been to some degree in a state of hyper-arousal most of the time. Cortisol junkies, rushing about, swiping left and right, taking flights, trains, buses, cars to get from A to B as fast as possible, cramming in as much as possible, courses, learning, screen time, exercise, social time, trying to earn and do as much as possible.

Many of us often not feeling good enough, like we weren’t doing enough, achieving enough. Generally, half-listening, partially present, ever so slightly distracted much of the time, in our heads, out of our bodies and surrounded in busy-ness and to do lists. And possibly an underlying sense of dis-satisfaction, an out of kilter-ness which many of us ignored or numbed with more busy-ness and/or food, booze, drugs, screen time, online games, Facebook . . . You may recognise this behaviour. You may have resembled it.

Well, that was the Old Life.

Then suddenly we were catapulted into ‘New Life’. No one consulted us. Everything changed. The proverbial rug was pulled out from under us. Time itself morphed. Everything took on a new malleability. We no longer had to be places, nay, we were forbidden to go places. All of us. Globally! Gosh, mind melting weirdness. Newness, change. Thrust into everyone’s stratosphere.

And what mattered? Argh! My people, friends, my family where are you? I miss you. One’s hobbies, civil liberties . . . argh, we collectively wailed, we miss you!

Plus, we all had to STOP!

And then we noticed.

Perhaps the wind in the trees, the clouds travelling across the sky, the lack of air trails. Your greying roots, the amount of stuff in your home? The amount of time you and your children spend on screens, or perhaps the joy you got from being together, making a loaf of bread, listening to a certain tune, dancing around your kitchen. Reading, drawing. The amount you love whoever you love.
The list could go on and on.

What our lists probably share is an appreciation of time, creativity, of the other, of Nature. I wonder that it has helped us to notice what is important in our shared experience of this act of being alive.
We’ve all noticed things about ourselves, patterns of behaviour, things we wish to let go of, which no longer serve us, and things we wish to take with us on the next stage of our journey into this new phased of eased Lockdown . . . .whatever that is.

What have you noticed I wonder and what will you take with you into the easing phase?

What are your new ‘importants’?

I am clear about some things – the acquisition of stuff – not important. Friendship, connection, hugs, touch, being with others – important. Nature – important. Time – super valuable and amazing if you can decide (largely) how you spend it. What a gift to be the director of your own show, the captain of your ship. How I feel in heart, mind, body – wellness – definitely important. Racing about, being super busy . . . ? I pledge to manage that better, with greater noticing.

I’ve enjoyed cloud gazing and watching mini-worlds in Nature such as the clever armies of ants constructing ‘roads’ in the flower beds, grasses blowing in the wind, birdsong, lack of traffic.

This time we’ve been gifted by the virus, we’ve all lived it in a range of ways, I’m not ignoring the terrible difficulties, losses and anxiety of so many. My intention here is to reflect on the positives, the learning.

Noticing.

Awareness of self, time and the world around and within oneself so that we may appreciate and take greater care of what matters to us.

Well-being through Play, Sunday drop-ins, 11am-1pm

Well-being through Play is a weekly two hour session for those wishing to lift their spirits through silliness and dedicate some time to open their hearts and flex their imaginations in the moment via playing with other supportive souls in Zoom.

Great for creativity, well-being and connection. It’ll put a smile on your face and a bounce in your step.

‘Thank you for opening my heart today. I felt love pouring in.’ – Suni, London

‘Oh my word, when I ran after the session, I was singing at top of my voice! I can’t stop playing. I feel energised. Defo going to introduce more dancing and singing into my daily life. Thank you.’ – Heather, Gateshead

‘Energising, fun, playful. Allows my vulnerabilities to come out and be examined in a playful safe way. Helps me accept and appreciate them. It’s always joyful. Time to forget myself every week.’ -Karen, Brighton

£10 per drop-in