T, my older daughter is in that exhausting curious phase of being a 5 year old. The “whys” are endless and her energy is boundless. As soon as she is done with dinner, she wants to know what we can do together for fun. And no, she is not satisfied with an answer that suggests alone time or relaxation or decompression; three things that I desperately need after a long day of work.
I was inspired at the end of last year by Shonda Rhime’s TED talk about her Year of Saying Yes. After finding herself in a sort of rut professionally, she decided to say yes to everything for a year including prompts from her kids for playtime. This very act of saying yes to play and new projects and time with friends all served to jolt her out of her dry place into a richer and even more productive life.
I totally get it; play is good for the soul. It is probably exactly what I need at the end of a day where what I have done at work does not even remotely resemble play. In fact, I start the day fully anticipating play time at the end of the day. Even still, somehow when that moment arrives when my littles start tugging on me for attention, I feel drained of any bit of energy I have left.
Last week, just as I was about to say No to another invitation to do something fun together, my mind imagined my daughter as a beautiful 15 year old that has become too busy for her mama and may be saying No to my invitations for bonding time.
So I said yes instead and we did something fun together. We colored a beautiful picture. I could tell it made her happy. I felt happy too.
I know this daily struggle of trying to balance work and family time is not unique to me. In fact, this guy took one for team #workingparents everywhere last week when his kids interrupted his live TV interview.
There are going to be several days where we simply have nothing to give at the end of the day and quality time for the day might be your children laying next to you and watching a show quietly. But for the other days, when you are tempted to say No and redirect, I am challenging you (and myself) to opt for child directed play. It might be as simple as coloring or playing a video game but it means so much to your child(ren)!