When was the last time you played?
A few weeks ago I interviewed Inga Rojas, director of clinical services for Catholic Charities of Wayne County, about the agency’s new Remember to Play initiative. She told me how increasingly test-based school curriculums have left little free time for even the youngest students, and at home children are spending more time looking at the screens of various devices and less time in unstructured play. This type of play teaches children valuable skills they’ll draw upon later in life, and such play has many benefits for children and adults alike, she said.
I remember commenting on how sad it was that we as a society need to be reminded to take time to play, or to encourage our kids to play. Then this morning I made the mistake of looking ahead on my calendar, and realized with dismay that my family only has one free weekend in the next two months (and the odds of it staying free are slim).
The things we have planned are fun celebrations and activities with family members and friends — baby showers, graduations and Eagle Scout ceremonies. We even have a few camping trips squeezed in there, and I’m sure those trips will include plenty of time for us to play. Nonetheless, I think we should make playtime more of a priority in our lives.
Our 16-month-old daughter recently discovered the fun of playing hide and seek, and she loves making up all kinds of silly games to play with us. A new favorite involves stacking soft, rubbery blocks, then knocking them over onto herself. Free, creative play is good for all three of us, and seeing the pure joy on her face is more than enough motivation for me to make more time for play.