The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of childhood into maturity – Aldous Huxley
When I was about nine I remember my mother strapping on roller skates and taking me for a spin on the carport that sat just below our house. I also remember her taking my sister, brother and I to the top of our motor home, in the middle of the desert, with canvas and paints in hand so we could paint the sunset. How cool is that? At the time, I couldn’t appreciate her child-like enthusiasm for life but now I draw upon it as if it were a part of my very existence. I love these memories of my mom because she was so unconventional and she didn’t think like a grown-up. I’m certain her child-like enthusiasm gave me a piece of my inner self that otherwise would not exist. Whether I knew it or not, spending this kind of play time with her was a huge confidence booster and made me feel secure inside.
This brings me to one of the core pieces of the H.A.P.P.Y. plan, “Playful Parenting”. I think most parents naturally play fun games with their kids but this is a subject worth revisiting because we live in a crazy busy, high-stress world with computer games, movies-on-demand, Ipods, Ipads, etc. and the child who may be struggling with a family related crisis could definitely benefit from a dose of play-time with mom or dad.
Over the weekend I attended a friends baby shower and the group was asked to individually fill out a card with a bit of parenting advice for the new mother. I spontaneously wrote down an idea for a really fun kitchen game that I used when my daughter was between the ages of 3-6. I would spread a large piece of wax paper on my kitchen counter and pour prepared chocolate pudding on the wax paper. We would then begin drawing the most wonderful pudding art in the world that was spectacular if I do say so myself. The best part was licking the pudding off our fingers while we were painting! I was kind of proud of myself for remembering this idea, after all, it’s been quite a few years since my daughter and I spent the afternoon making pudding art. What I remember most, however, is how much fun we had. As she became older our playtime changed; there were Barbie’s, American Girls, bike riding, roller blading and now it’s “family game night” or “girls night out” (which is a great excuse for getting dressed up for dinner and a movie).
Spending time with your child regardless of age, creates security and stability and eventually shows up in their self-confidence and self-esteem. And as it turns out, it’s not only good for your kids, it’s good for you too. If you’re in the midst of a family crisis, whether its divorce, financial problems or some other issue, you can bet your child is feeling the stress of the situation. So dig deep, find your inner child and become a playful parent today…relax, enjoy and give them the most valuable gift you can give – your time.