Monday, March 14, 2011

The Challenge of Incorporating Play into Family Life

When I was in Costa Rica, floating around in the pool, I began thinking that I want to bring vacation happiness into my everyday life.  Admittedly, I was mostly wishing I had a non-chlorinated pool in an incredibly private yard surrounded by flowering hibiscus and the climate to use it any day of the year......but it's just not going to happen.  My yard is small, openly viewed by several neighbors, and we have winters here.  Not to mention the money.

So, still floating, I moved beyond that thought (though I am still open to it, if anyone wants to gift me a pool and the house to go with it), and began thinking about how I could, realistically, implement some vacation goodness into Real Life.  Not just for me, but for my family.  I want them to have vacationy feelings at home, too.  I had some random thoughts swirling through my brain, but they were all knocked out of it when I arrived home and Real Life smacked me upside the head. 

Then, yesterday, I read that book, Play:  How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.  According to the author, Stuart Brown, there are eight "play personalities."  Most people will recognize themselves in more than one of these styles of play.  They are not mutually exclusive, just a means of describing how we like to play.   As I mentioned in my other post, Brown suggests we look at our own "play history" to see what has brought us joy in other phases of our life.  I'm also thinking of it in terms of what we enjoy in a vacation.

These are the play types:
Explorer (can be physical, emotional, or mental)
Director (enjoys planning and executing events, organizing things or people)
Kinesthete (enjoys movement)
Storyteller (also includes all imaginative play that involves creating an ongoing storyline)

He includes descriptions in the book, but I think you get the idea.  Looking at this list, I immediately see three that are me, three that I think describe my husband, and three that are my daughter.

Here is where Real Life swerves into my lane like an SUV driven by a 20something on her cell phone.  Our styles of play do not match up.  My daughter is not an explorer.  It bores her when we take her places where we can see and learn new things.  She'd rather stay at the hotel and swim all day than go sightseeing.  My husband is not a creator.  He is incredibly patient, but not really interested in hanging out with us while we do crafts.  He'd rather lounge in a pool.

On the other hand, I rarely laugh at his jokes, and, as much as I love to travel, I barely participate in the advance planning.  He pours over maps every evening, re-plotting our route, but I'd rather daydream while I walk the dogs.  My daughter loves amusement park rides, skating, biking, etc, while I get motion sick and am a complete klutz.  Where she sees a collection of treasures, I see clutter that will require dusting.

My conclusion?  We need a pool!  It is the one thing we all like. ;)

Seriously, I'm still pondering this.  I see play as being a powerful agent for bonding and relationship building, and as we are entering the teen years, I'd like to do all I can to reinforce those feelings within our little family.  I don't want to lose the opportunities I have with my daughter, but I'm not certain how to create play all three of us can enjoy.


Giovanna said...

How funny!
I am an explorer ( I think every photographer is )
Director and Creator and my husband only seems to share one trait with me. And honey, I get motion sick just watching the rides at a fair, I think to myself, how can those people be smiling!! : )
My three have always retained a lesson longer when we had a "play" type of schooling that went along with it, I think it really does matter as well.

The Reader said...

Reminds me of the Love Languages book/premise. Interesting!

Perhaps one thing you can do is to incorporate aspects of each? Assign each person in the family a task that is the fun part for that person, yet the experience as a whole is enjoyable to all.

Ex - a bike ride. your dh plans the route, you follow (and thus it's a new route for you, letting you explore), your dd gets the physical aspect. Boom, an event for all 3 of you to enjoy.

Craft time - can your dh sit and do planning for "the next thing" while your dd and you craft?

things like that....

Best of luck in incorporating everyone. I feel pretty confident you'll find something(s) that works!

Patty Ann said...

I so agree with the other comments. I have a very large family, and we have learned to appreciate the differences that we all have. It is amazing how much better a vacation is when we plan and incorporate every type of play. Sure that are some parts that are not as good for me, but there are things I like that are not as fun for them. When we incorporate all of them into the areas they love, we end up with an experience that everyone remembers and shares together. And I am also teaching them to be patient with others who like something they don't ;-) Play is good, and learning from it is even better!!

Missus Wookie said...

Interesting idea - thanks for yet another book to add to my library list :)

We have had to come up with joint ideas during family meetings and also have different wants/needs when it comes to play.