Who knew that 20 minutes of kicking the soccer ball around with mom would produce that much happiness for my fifth-grader? No more complaining that this was the most boring, worst day ever and there was “never anything to do.” No more frustration on my part either.
I’ve learned that being an uber-busy, multitasking, working mom sends my kids one strong message. My most prized asset? Time. So when I prayed about how to push through the negative frustration that sometimes bubbles up in our home, the answer I got was to give them my time. Not one eye on them and the other on my iPhone, the dinner, or my laptop, but totally focused one-on-one interaction.
I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be oodles of time and it shouldn’t always be according to my schedule. It’s one of the best ways to say, “I know this makes you feel loved and connected.”
When I dropped what I was doing on that recent spring afternoon and took time out to help my son practice for his upcoming soccer tryouts, I again saw the power of giving my time freely. And I got my work done later without any grumbling from my son.
Isn’t there a saying that “families who play together, stay together”?
I have to model this principle of balancing time every day if I want my kids to learn how to manage their own schedules. I try to help them see that time spent texting or Facebooking takes discipline and balance so it doesn’t pull them away from homework and relationships.
In her article, Eight ways to help your child be mentally healthy Dr. Claire McCarthy lists “spend time with your child” as the #1 way to promote their mental and physical health. She also lists monitoring their media–and one of my favorites at #2: “have family dinners.” Despite our very busy schedule, we make a point of sitting down to a meal together nearly every night.
Just like playing with my son dissolved his grouchiness, I’ve found taking regular time for prayer and quiet peaceful moments with my Creator solves the nagging issues of life that would otherwise hang around. If we see prayer as an activity that is creative, even playful–rather than work–it can take on new vitality. A friend once said she studied her daily Bible citations by singing them, rather than reading them! Wouldn’t God want us to bring creativity and joy to our prayerful routines?
A website that offers help for resolving health challenges affirms that for children and adults “play isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. Play is as important to our physical and mental health as getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising.” (Play, creativity, and lifelong learning–Why play matters for kids and adults).
So go ahead. Play! (And pray while you’re at it.)
“For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55: 12)