Benefits of play for adults
When was the last time you played?
My family and I drove from Oudtshoorn to Herold’s Bay and the temperature actually rose from 13 degrees Celsius to an awesome 26 degrees! We all had soft serve ice creams and soon realised our tights, boots and scarves were not the appropriate beach gear. The kids stripped down to the minimum and hubby rolled up his jeans. Before I knew it, they were all jumping through the waves, swimming in the middle of winter, shrieking with delight. And I, I was standing on the wet sand, with bundles of clothes, cell phones and shoes in my hands, watching them take delight in the moment when it hit me.
Why am I the spectator? Why am I not in the water with them jumping, running … playing? I listened to my self-talk: “There is no-one to look after our stuff”, “I am wearing skinny jeans, it can’t pull up (nor can I take them off (haha)”, “we have no towels in the car, wet salty jeans will ruin the car seats”, “let hubby have fun with them, it is so special to see the kids playing with their dad”… These were all valid points.
Behind me, toward the parking lot, I saw grannies and granddads seated on the benches and somewhere in the middle older kids played beach cricket. I looked to my right and further down the beach, I saw various little families in the same situation. One parent on the sideline, stepping back so the rest of the family can play.
Too often parenting leaves us in a tag-team situation. Especially during these unplanned, spontaneous events. I realised again what George Bernard Shaw said, “We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” I didn’t want to be the “granny” on the bench yet, I wanted to play!
This lead me to a question I often ask. How can we “co-play”? How can we, as adults, arrange our lives to include more playful events? It was also the reason why we started our website and magazine- to inspire co-play situations. I love the Old English root: “pleg(i)an ‘to exercise’, plega ‘brisk movement’, related to Middle Dutch pleien ‘leap for joy, dance’”. Doesn’t it sound amazing? Don’t we all want to “leap for joy?”
Up until now, we have found some co-play options for us and our pre-schoolers based on the above definition of “brisk movement” and “joy”:
Exercise and movement at a higher intensity can help to improve blood circulation and it further assists in releasing endorphins. Therefore one would like for both the parents and kids to play at an intensity suited to their fitness and skill levels in order to optimise the amount of joy all parties may experience.
- Acrobranch adventure parks – When we go, my husband and I book our kids in 30 minutes before us so we can help orientate them before we go on our own treetop adventure at our own pace. Acrobranch has child-minders and it helps to know they are supervised. Adults (like kids) will benefit from a good core workout, a thrilling zipline, a good dose of adrenaline and endorphins (i.e the happy hormones). Sometimes I am surprised to learn that I have become a little scared of some of the obstacles and it feels great to face these fears and overcome them! Sharing these adventures with your partner also does wonders for your relationship. I’ll recommend it over a date at a restaurant! Most of the Acrobranch parks allow full views over the kids' areas, but the Garden Route one does not. You can read more about the benefits of choosing outdoor activities in our blog.
- Trampoline parks – this is great exercise and can be done together once the kids have the confidence. Stay together to keep an eye out for the little ones.
- “You ride I run”- now that the kids can cycle It does help that we can move at a faster pace, so the adults can get some actual exercise too!
- Tennis – even though you can pull a full smash on your six-year-old, you can practise together or let them use the wall as you go all-out with your partner. As they age this will be a great active activity to enjoy as a family.
- Kayaking – I love kayaking, it seems that the water just has a calming effect on the kids. They get their own little paddle while my husband and I can push ourselves a bit harder in order to get some exercise in and benefit from those endorphins!
These were just five ways to tip the scale and change the likelihood that one parent won’t sit on the sideline so both adults and kids can benefit from playing, together! Okay and I made a note to myself to wear less skinny jeans (or fantastic swim-ready underwear!)
Thank you to our blog sponsor- who makes sharing memories possible! Acrobranch offers eight world-class ziplining adventure parks. They can be found here: (1) Constantia Nek in Cape Town, (2) Sunlaws Estate adventure park in Centurion, (3) Rosemary Hill Adventure park in Pretoria East, (4) Melrose Park (and picnic spot) in Johannesburg, (5) Honingnestkrans Street family adventure park in Pretoria North, (6) Timberlake Organic Village on the Garden Route, (7) Huddle Park Linksfield adventure park near Bedfordview and Rosebank and their latest addition to the family- (8) Stellenbosch family adventure park at Klein Joostenberg Farm.