Soulful Home: June’s Message: “Let’s try a play break.”

This month’s message is all about giving ourselves a break. As a people of the world, we will be carrying the stress of the previous pandemic year for a long time. One of the best ways to process the extra energy (angst, tension, fret) of chronic stress is through play.

You would not want to hear this month’s mantra when you are sharing something deeply troubling or sensitive. But oftentimes, when we are in “gripe mode,” or just seem to be at odds with our circumstances or those around us in small ways that are hard to name, a play break can be really, helpful, not to mention fun! 

Here are a few examples:

  • On a chore day, in the middle of folding laundry, make a game out of matching socks, or after mopping a floor, everybody put rags beneath their feet and race around drying the floor
  • Waiting for something, such as the DMV, or to pick up someone from the airport, have a deck of Uno cards handy for a quick game
  • In a grumpy, gripey disagreement over a family choice (such as where to go out to eat or who does what chore or what movie to watch), suggest you solve the debate using a coin toss; rock, paper, scissors; or picking a number 1-10
  • To let other family members sleep when an energetic young person is awake early, suggest a quiet game of shadow puppets or charades
  • And when you are on a long trip and everyone is starting to get cranky at the end, play one of those classic car games, like I Spy or Find the 50 States of License Plates

As the parent, you might use this month’s mantra more as a reminder to yourself to set up the conditions for play when (or before) moods turn sour. Play is an effective way to interrupt unwanted patterns of thought or behavior and creates a new pattern of meeting challenges with levity and creativity.