Summer Play

IMG_4063It’s been a glorious summer here in Vancouver and we’ve certainly been taking advantage of all this holiday time has to offer to play.

We know that children need lots of time for unstructured play where they can use their imagination, explore and engage in conversations with others.

Well, what about adults? We need unstructured play time as well. It’s not just about sports and physical activity, although a lot of people might default to that definition.

What other kinds of activities can we do which allows our thoughts and ideas to roam free, where we might use our creativity?

Since the beginning of April, we’ve been playing in our gardens, designing, planting and caring for our plants. We both love perennials, but the hot summer weather has made looking after them very challenging. We’ve been resourceful with our limited water supply for the plants (using partially finished glasses of water and water bottles, and recycling the old ice from the ice maker in our freezers), while allowing the grass to go dormant. It’s been a joy to visit the gardens of family, friends, parks and the community and see the creativity and love that’s been poured into these welcoming spaces.

We’ve been playing in our homes, cleaning from top to bottom IMG_4413and purging unnecessary items. After our end-of-the-school-year “classroom clear out,” we often find it hard to relax right away so we carry that energy into our houses and start sorting, organizing and tossing. Although not everyone enjoys this kind of activity, we find it extremely therapeutic. A lot of stress seems to subside when there is less to maintain and clean. We’ve been painting, rearranging furniture and decorating to ensure every room is a calm and peaceful place to be.

We’ve been playing hard in the kitchen. Cooking for teenagers, particularly a teenage son who resembles an eating machine, is endless. The teenagers can’t help it if they’re hungry all the time; they’re growing and playing hard themselves. So the past few weeks our kitchen has seen some intensive cooking and baking lessons for the teenagers, as well as the advanced “washing/drying/loading the dishwasher with everybody’s dishes, not just your own” course. We’ve only had a few mishaps: sorting out the differences between “muffin method” and “cake method” mid recipe; no texting while frying; and going from “golden” to “burnt” can happen quickly if you’re not being mindful. It’s actually been really fun and we’ve shared a lot of laughter.

There’s been lots of other kinds of playing going on as well. We’ve had a lot of music being sung and played on instruments. We’ve been drawing and crafting. Even writing this blog post is playing–with words, phrasing and humour.

So what is play? Something we do, or a state of mind?

Below is a reblog of an earlier post we wrote, on the importance of outdoor play for our children.

The Self-Regulated Teacher

IMG_1120It was brought to our attention recently that Rick Cluff, host of the CBC’s Vancouver morning show “Early Edition,” had a segment on this year’s ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

Rick spoke with Allana LeBlanc, an exercise physiologist, who works with ParticipACTION. Here are some of the main points we were able to take away after listening to the podcast ourselves and looking at the highlights from the ParticipACTION report.

“The Biggest Risk is Keepings Kids Indoors.”

The report explains that children need 60 minutes a day of physical activity, but their surveys on how much activity kids (5-17 years old) actually get indicate that only 9% of Canadian children meet the criteria.

This is a complex situation because it’s not just about the lack of physical activity, but the increase in sedentary behaviour.  Kids just aren’t moving around like they used to with more…

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