358 | The Play Is In The Person, Not In The Toy

What is play? How does it look, feel, and sound to you? What’s the point of it? What gives rise to it? What hinders it? How did we engage with it as kids? How do we hold it as adults?

These are a handful of the questions we are prodding at in this week’s episode.

It’s my hope that it gives your imagination a little spark and leaves you feeling ready to bring more play to your day.

We will take a trip down memory lane and think about some of our experiences of play as children. And consider what happens to our relationship with play as we grow up. Oh and the (unintended) impact our words and actions might have on the play and imagination in the minds of future generations.

“As both adults and children, do you think we allow ourselves less and less of this open, ‘pointless’ time? I think so, and yet it is in this time that the mind can freewheel, new connections are made, new ideas are born.” – Michael Rosen’s Book of Play

Am I Doing It Right?

Play is absolutely foundational to human life. It’s at the core of emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual well-being and development. But it’s not just about what we do. It influences our relationship with everything we do. And it can influence every aspect of life, from the cradle to the grave.

The more play we invite into our lives, the more meaning, joy, and gentleness we will begin to notice and experience. Both in ourselves and in the world around us.

The Fewer Toys Children Have, The More They Play

Through her research into the potential impacts of excessive toys, Claire Lerner reported that children, “get overwhelmed and over-stimulated and cannot concentrate on any one thing long enough to learn from it so they just shut down. Too many toys mean they are not learning to play imaginatively either.”

We have been looking at this article in The Haven, and considering its implications and applications for adults too. Could we do more with less? Are we doing ourselves a disservice by using specific (closed) tools, toys, and technology to solve every little problem we encounter?

In the episode we also think about:

  • The impact of associating “make believe” with a sense of lack or deprivation
  • How getting ‘the proper one‘ can crush imaginative play
  • Why learning to surf on a styrofoam lid or using a stool as a drum, are not inhibitors to progress but fuel for it
  • How imagination can get chipped away over time as we become subservient to the so called ‘real world’
  • The question that haunts our relationship with play… “am I doing it right?
  • The difference between ‘exploration mode’ and ‘play mode’ with our toys (and how too much choice hinders our relationship with the latter)
  • How ‘out of the box’ solutions can only take us so far, and why it’s worth creating conditions for flexibility
  • The danger of shrinking public spaces for play and connection, and how this limits our ability to imagine to the realm of those who own the physical and virtual real-estate
  • How we could apply child-initiated play to our relationship with play as adults (and what we can do to build play into the fabric of our environment rather than seeing it as an activity to set up and tidy away)

Over to You

What role does play currently have in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ideas in this episode. Please share on social media or in the comments below!

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