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“Want to come out and play?” This simple question was the catalyst for many grand adventures as a child. Whether we explored in a park or played a game of tag in the back yard, we had fun!

a tire swing

As an adult, do you ever wish someone would ask, “Do you want to come out and play?” If so, maybe it is time to take a break from your normal routine and “Go Play”.

What is play? By definition, play means “engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.”

“My take is that any activity can be play or not play. The secret sauce is playfulness.” — Ben Mardell, researcher and educator

Do you need motivation to make time for play? Consider these important aspects of play:

  • Play is freedom. True play is not a duty but the desire to engage in the activity.
  • Play is the means, not the end. Play is about the process, not the result. Play means engaging in an activity for the joy of the activity.
  • Play is present-focused, not future goal-oriented. To actively engage in play, you must be in the current moment with a creative, active, and focused mindset.
  • Engaging in play keeps our minds sharp and memories as strong as we age.
  • Children do as we do, not necessarily as we say. This is an added reason to make time for play. Be an example to the children in your life.

If you need some fun ideas, you can: 

a dog playing fetch in the snow
  • Play fetch with a dog
  • Color a picture
  • Play charades
  • Blow bubbles
  • Play board or card games
  • Dance like no one is watching!
  • Explore a new street. This may sound like a strange suggestion, but consider the experience below:

I signed off work and headed out to explore a new street about 15 minutes away by foot, and I’m glad I did! The sun and the breeze welcomed me right away. I felt my body move effortlessly as I took in all the sights that I can’t check out when I’m driving. Plenty of flowers were blooming and fall decorations were beautifully placed on doors and on lawns. I found a fairy garden with toadstools for chairs and seashells marking a garden path. The shells instantly took me to Cape Cod for a restful mental break I hadn’t expected. I saw neighbors chatting on every street and many waved to me – it boosted my spirits to see such camaraderie! It felt like I was in a Disney movie! I came home refreshed and content.

If you desire an experience like this, I encourage you to find a friend, partner, or child and ask the question we all love to hear, no matter our age: “Want to come out and play?”

Written by Melissa Rupp, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Fulton County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Elkind, D. (2008). Can we Play? Greater Good Magazine. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/can_we_play

Gray, P. (2008). The Value of Play. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/200811/the-value-play-i-the-definition-play-gives-insights

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