Did that Betty White picture catch your eye?
I cracked up when I saw it online. Then, my partner and I said, "We have to get this for each other and share it with our neighbors."
You see, we live on a VERY busy street! Hundreds of people drive by everyday. We've been thinking, "What's the point of living on a busy street if you can't make someone smile from time to time?"
So, here it is. A dozen Roses.
What in the world does this even have to do with mental health? Therapy? Education? Parenting? Relationship? Connection?
Well, over the last 6 weeks, a consistent theme has popped up in my sessions...
"Stacy, we are just not having any fun in this house anymore."
"Stacy, it's all business here...get this done, get that done, clean this up, clean that up."
"Stacy, I don't even know the last time we had any fun...with each other, with our kids, with our friends."
Whew! Yeah. That's heavy. I FEEL those words! It's so hard to have fun, find levity, laugh, when we are carrying the weight of the world, when we're stuck at home, when people are dying from a pandemic, when we are watching the news, when we see the racial injustices occurring.
I get it.
I really do.
I've been trapped in that cycle as well throughout this last year.
And yet, we have to dig deep into our strategy box and remember a few things about relationship...
PEOPLE WHO PLAY TOGETHER, FEEL SAFE TOGETHER.
PEOPLE WHO PLAY TOGETHER, REGULATE TOGETHER.
Yep, I shouted those!! For emphasis.
Our children, our students, are watching us. No one ever says, "I really loved hanging out with that boring teacher who never laughed or had any fun."
No one ever says, "My mom/dad was awesome...they just sat around all day and didn't enjoy laughing."
Based on science, we know that the language of kids is play. We know that when they are little, they thrive on the feedback we, as adults, give them when they roll over, crawl, walk, giggle.
Then, as they get older, toddlers are the BEST at play! It's their life's work.
At the elementary ages, we start to see much more complex play as they navigate friendships and figuring out how to engage in more team activities and interactive play.
Then, hits the tween and teen years. No longer are our kids interested in only playing with us. They are desperate to spend as much time with peers as possible.
So, how do we navigate play during a year where everyone is exhausted?!
Here are a few of my favorite tips (all based in that bottom of the brain up emotional regulation):
1. Turn up the music!! For years, my son, used to say, "Mom, music can change our lives." He's not wrong. Music has a way to worm it's way into our psyche and help us shift our mood, feel our feelings, and move our bodies. Music taps into our sensory system. We can listen to it when we're sad, happy, glad, determined, angry, the list goes on and on. If you're looking for fun, have an evening where everyone in your family takes turns playing DJ. Each of you pick a song you love and share it with the family. To make it even more fun, add a dance party to the song! Shake. That. Bootie.
2. Start a family routine of "light, easy, fun." In several sessions over the last several weeks, I have asked families to come up with an activity they can do, consistently, everyday, that has zero to do with education or chores. Some families are choosing a game every evening at the same time. Some families are choosing a daily walk. Some families are choosing time to create or craft for 30 minutes. This can be completely tailored to the interests of your family. I recommend you pick 30 minutes a day where you don't worry about what needs to get done and you completely focus on fun! Block it out on the calendar. Make it priority. Then, PLAY.
3. Get outside. For many of us, the Rona has eliminated the natural times in our day where we would go outside (drive kids to school, go get groceries, go to work). We have to make an intentional commitment to getting outside. Go for a walk. Go for a hike. Create an outdoor scavenger hunt for the kids. Go sledding. Whatever you choose, remember, Dr. Siegel has taught us that Motion Changes Emotion.
4. Do something kind for someone else...as a surprise! Truly, when we serve others, it's SO MUCH FUN!! That's how Betty White's Roses came into our lives. Think of someone you know that you'd love to surprise. Then, strategize. Can you drop off some flowers? Can you send them a card? Can you offer to pick something up for them? Helping others out, making them smile, these are huge gifts for us too because it makes us feel happy.
5. Pick out of a jar. Create some time for everyone in the family to brainstorm ideas of what would be fun. Write each of them on paper, one activity per piece of paper. Then, put them in a jar. Pick a predictable time every week that your family will pick an activity out of the jar. Then, do the activity! This takes a bit of pre-planning, but it's worth it!
There ya go... PLAY. It's critical.
To creating safety.
To creating connection.
To building on relationship.
To living our best life.
Play. Brainstorm it. Schedule it. Commit to it.
Drop me an email at [email protected] and tell me which one of the tips you are going to implement this week. TAKE ACTION!
Go Be You,