The power of play during COVID-19

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever been to a trampoline park and watched the faces of the parents there? It’s quite interesting as we regress almost instantly after the first jump. Faces of joy, sweat and smiles ear to ear. You can’t help but smile as you jump freely and repetitively while trying not to injure yourself. It’s this experience of play that we all need. Now, as we fight this virus, we need it more than ever. Our children need it even more than ever.

In the midst of this pandemic, we must play and create every day. Our lives keep leaping along as we navigate this world with our kids and now with our kids and COVID-19. Play can be therapeutic at times like these. It can disperse joy in what seems like extra-long days. Play in a puddle, make shadow puppets, paint rocks. Don’t forget the art of play.

Now, there are definitely times when I just cannot bring myself to play with all of the distractions, added responsibilities, and emotional fatigue, but I try to remember to play the next day. The more we do, the less anxious we will appear to our littles. They will respond to the positive attention and, in turn, give more to us. That, my friends, is the beauty of parenting. Allow yourself to find it. Then use it to fight this war that is upon us.

The power of play can encompass art, dance, or music. Years ago, I spent a few months in a long-term nursing care facility gathering research data. It was there that I met Edna. Her face wrinkled with lifelines, and her mind slowly fading. However, she continued to play the piano impeccably. The art of playing through music and her inherent talent brought her so much joy during those last years. Find your inner Edna and share it with your kids. Remember, they have no expectations. Just play, and maybe this virus will disappear if even for a brief, beautiful moment.

Lauretta Stombaugh is a pediatrician.

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