Allowing Ourselves and Our Children to Play in the Time of Pandemic

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          Can you remember a day when you played so intently with a friend that you forgot about the time? A game or a fantasy re-enactment without electronics or fancy toys, perhaps just a few sticks or some chalk or a beach full of shells and storm-tossed treasures?

          The pandemic and quarantine have left many of us in a state of grief: we are mourning the loss of "normal" life and still struggling with the "new normal" of masked/socially distanced existence (with hands red from so much washing to boot!). Play can be an antidote to that grief when it engages our bodies and minds and souls in creative activity.

          Losing track of time while engrossed in an activity - a phenomenon called "flow" by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - is a treasured happening in my life. For me it usually happens when playing music with friends, sailing, or sitting in my backyard reading. For some it happens when meditating, or building a model, or working on an art project. When was the last time you experienced "flow"?

          The art of playing may be endangered in our culture. The rise of electronic games, social media, and pre-packaged "play events" has left little time for just "going outside to play." Maria Montessori said play was "the work of childhood." For all of us it is the activity we do with our friends, the laboratory for social learning that is lifelong and ever evolving.

          Do you play with your children? Have you used "family game nights" or "mother/daughter bike rides" as a way to alleviate the tensions of isolation? Do you play with your friends? Do you miss that opportunity for sharing and laughing and joyful banter?

          Creativity is a tool that greatly helps us during the pandemic. Try thinking "outside the box" when planning safe ways to be with others. Here is one thought: have your family write a humorous play about the pandemic and then put on a performance you can share electronically with family members at a distance. Possible?

Take some time to just "play" - with a child, with a friend, with a group of friends. You do not need many props - perhaps a kite to fly, or a Zoom call, or a bag for treasures, or a guitar to accompany your singing (while masked and distanced in person). The medical research is clear: losing oneself in playful/artistic/social activities leads to longer lives and healthier lifestyles, even in the midst of this worldwide health crisis. What are you waiting for?



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This page contains a single entry by John published on September 15, 2020 5:15 PM.

Back to School 2020: It's a Brave New World was the previous entry in this blog.

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