Catholic Husband

Love / Lead / Serve

Making Time for Playtime

Kids grow up too fast. As parents, we have the privilege of experiencing their daily growth. As a part of this experience, the days can quickly and easily meld into one another and huge developmental leaps can be quickly overlooked as others come along. It’s important for us, despite our busy lives, to remember something from our own childhood: it’s important to make time for playtime.

As adults, we have significantly more responsibilities than we did as children. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal on sleep indicated that the best age for optimal sleep is 8 years old. According to the article, when an 8 year old goes to sleep, they do so effortlessly. In their minds, the day is over, there is nothing else that needs to be done, and so their brain is able to rest. As adults, we let pillow time become stress time. We go over the day’s events, stress over tomorrow, and think about 30 things on our to-do list that we can’t do anything about in that moment.

Playtime is especially important for parents. We need to schedule, if necessary, time to play with our kids. There’s a balance to be struck. Our kids need their independence and time to explore the world. It’s healthy for them to learn to self-soothe, to self-entertain, and to self-direct. It’s also healthy for them to have structured time in which to interact with their parents. This not only forms healthy parent-child bonds, it communicates a deep love for them. When their parents take the time to play with them, it means a lot to that child.

The main obstacle keeping you from playing with your kids on a regular basis is your own energy. We get up early, go to work, and come home exhausted. We let the daily grind and stresses wear us down and, at the end of the day, our tanks are empty. Why is it that kids can get up early, run around all day, study in school, and at bedtime still have tons of energy? It’s because they do things to keep their energy levels topped off. They laugh easily. They exercise. They sleep. They do all of the things that we don’t do as adults.

The secret to life is to live like a child. Make exercise a part of your life. Have superior sleep hygiene so that your time in bed is dedicated to sleep, not stress. Involve a robust prayer life in your day. Prayer alone can be a game changer. The meditation and mindfulness that’s involved with prayer has been linked in study after study to better health outcomes. Meditation and mindfulness lower your blood pressure, manage some chronic conditions, and actually rewires your brain.

If you resolve to living like a child, then you need time for play. Dedicate that time to playing with your kids. Go to a park, run around in the yard, play catch. Don’t let anything interrupt your plans because you won’t get today back. Your kids will only be home for so long until they move out to start their own families.

Even though you’re living like a kid, you still have adult responsibilities. As much as you can, do your thing while they sleep. Reading is important. I like reading books daily, along with the paper. I read books early in the morning when Alison and Benedict are asleep. I read the paper in the afternoon while Benedict is napping and Alison is still at work. This schedule allows me to have “me” time that I consider a priority without stealing from together time with my family. If your kids are old enough, have “Reading Time” in your house. We did this in my family growing up. For 30 minutes a day, we all stopped what we were doing and read.

As the parent, you’re in the driver’s seat. If you make time to play with your kids, it’ll happen. If you make time for your family to read, it’ll happen. If you make time for your family to pray, it’ll happen. It’s good to be king. So be a good king. Don’t neglect playtime. It’ll pay dividends.