In today’s goal-oriented society, the notion of play can seem a frivolous pursuit for those past primary school age. Physical activity is often perceived as athletics, exercise or “working out.” But, experts agree, play can and should be embraced by family members of all ages.
Overscheduled, stressed, etc., families can become so programmed to think in terms of achievements like earning more money, making a select soccer or swim team, getting good grades. Instead of embracing play as a vital part of family life, it is sometimes viewed as a non-productive “waste” of time. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Families can develop stronger bonds when they share common experiences. Physical activity is a positive experience that families can share as they improve their overall health. Kids and parents who play in a physically active way are healthier and happier. Studies suggest playing, just for the sake of movement and enjoyment and interaction, boots self-esteem, builds healthy relationships and contributes to physical health and well-being.
First, grown-ups must embrace the health and well-being benefits of play, which include increased energy levels; improved sleep patterns; better concentration at work or school; family connectedness; improved self-esteem, and stronger, healthier bodies.
Play is like fruits and vegetables, an everyday necessity, not a candy or ice cream treat for every once in a while. Families who recognize the power of play will improve in all of those other areas of achievement.
How can busy families put more play in their days?
- Spend at least 20 minutes doing something physically active as a family. The Y offers family kickball, pickleball and family classes like ZUMBA and Boot Camp.
- Schedule family recess time by putting play on the weekly schedule, just like soccer games and piano practice. Block out time for a family swim at the Y’s pools or a trip to YMCA Camp Sherwin for outdoor fishing, swimming or favorite playground games.
- Create a play jar allowing each family member to put in desired fun activities for weekends or other days off. Spend days at the Y shooting hoops, playing board games or watching a movie in the pool
- Find a cause that matters to your family and volunteer together. The Y offers families the chance to help other families in our community through collections and special projects.
To learn more about how your family can get involved at the Y as a member or a volunteer, contact your local YMCA or visit ymcaerie.org.