This isn’t going to be one of those posts where I tell you to put down your cellphone because “they’re only little once.”

I have three kids, and sometimes the first eight minutes on the playground represent the only chunk of the day that I have to return phone calls, emails and texts without someone screaming, “I WANT MORE WATER!” or “I TALK TO DADDY!” the whole time.

(It’s as though the mere touching of a telephone sends some cosmic signal that a kid-emergency must occur at that very moment.)

No, that’s not what I am going to say. Instead, make your calls, do your emails and then, when you get the inevitable call to attention, “I need help,” “I need to go potty,” or, “He’s throwing mulch down the slide and we’re not supposed to throw mulch down the slide and I want to go down the slide but he’s up there and he said he’ll hit me if I try to go down the slide,” then tuck that phone in your pocket because I have much bigger plans for you.

It’s time we played more, moms and dads. And what better spot to play than on a playground?

I don’t love the conventional definition of play: “engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose,” because I think it sets up a false dichotomy between play and, I don’t know, the whole rest of life, where play = enjoyment and everything else = serious and practical.

Rather, and you should find this as no surprise, I see play as an opportunity for exploration. Through play, you can explore your social relationships, how your body moves in space, how your body moves in relation to implements and obstacles, nature, your fortitude, and your own thoughts.

Think the playground is just for the wee littles? They’re geared for kids, to be sure, but when I look at a playspace I see things up high, on which I can hang:

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Things down low, on which I can balance:

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Things I can climb:

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And, unsteady things:

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I can pretend I’m an airplane, and fly over my kids.

I can pretend my kids are airplanes, too, and we can fly off together.

I can see how long I can stand on one leg.

I can run races, hop like a bunny, leap, and climb rocks.

Together we can find trees to climb, sticks to gather, and heavy rocks to lift as high as we can.

The playground is full of opportunities for parents to enjoy a variety of movement patterns to challenge muscles, connective tissue, and the cardiovascular system.

Your kids will have no idea you’re “working out.” And most likely, neither will you.

 

5 Responses to “Moms & Dads, Put Down Your Phones and Play”

  1. on 18 Sep 2014 at 2:23 pmChristine

    Love this post!

  2. on 18 Sep 2014 at 3:22 pmKristine Rudolph

    Thanks, and thanks for reading!

  3. on 18 Sep 2014 at 7:42 pmCarl Peterson

    I remember the old days on the farm, when we played on the horses (actually the Denver family horses-Del kept two horses on our[i.e. my Mom’s side of the family] farm. And of course we fell off the fences, I actually fell off Schnooks (one of the horses) and have never been on one since. I fell out of trees too but I still climb them, but it has been a long time. And the eliitch(sp) pit, where we jumped off the side and into the guk. Oh, and the ditches we use to swim in, and of course that was fun too. And Mom and Dad, he was working the fields, or milking the cows and Mom was either sleeping cuz she worked nights, or up and fixing dinner, and we were out playing with only our Dog Blackie. Now we did have fun, but I have to admit there was some lost family time there that I tried to make up for with our girls and that was all good. Oh and the phone, we couldn.t carry it out with us, and half the time, the other party was on the line, so the phone was a non-issue. Thanks for the memories.

  4. on 18 Sep 2014 at 8:30 pmKristine Rudolph

    I was listening to an interview with Darryl Edwards this week – he’s the Primal Play guy – and he was saying that more kids are taken to the ER in the US and GBR now for falling out of bed than out of trees! He said kid’s don’t know “how” to fall anymore, so they get injured. All your falling surely served you well!

  5. on 21 Sep 2014 at 9:03 amDebi

    I sometimes find that I’m the only mom (even in flip flops) that is climbing the rock wall and sliding down the bumpy slide! I agree totally. It’s just plain fun. 🙂

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