Freedom to Play


My oldest is 5 years old and an avid learner. He carries a California Field Guide around all day reading about different animals he finds on our outings or wherever. My 3 year old (I can't believe she'll be 4 this Christmas!) begs me to do 'school' every morning. So often that I've purchased her a little handwriting workbook that she can "work" through on her own while William does his. 

But then there are mornings where our homeschool looks nothing like school. There are the mornings where I'm making coffee and I hear all three of my children laughing together upstairs, making up a game of 'house' or 'school' or 'grocery store' without any fighting or arguing or crying. Times where everything, even if just for a few moments, is calm and happy and full of all the things I dreamed of as a mama. 

Those special moments, the miraculous ones where the stars align and everything goes right, those are what I live for. Those are the moments that make all the others worth it. And while part of me listens to their free play anxious about what learning they're missing out on by skipping our history lesson or a science project (we do a lot of baking), or the next chapter in Narnia, I always let them play.

When William was in kindergarten at our local public school, there were so many rules. I'm not knocking rules, I love rules, but these rules kept him from feeling comfortable to do almost anything - including asking to go to the restroom. It caused so much discomfort and unease and fear in his sensitive little 5 year old self that it was one of the big reasons I was so desperate to bring him back home. In these moments of free organic lovely play with his brother and sister I think back to the times when he's been too afraid to play freely. Always looking for approval, making sure he's following the 'rules' and it breaks my heart. 

So they play. It's 10am right now and they've been playing for over an hour. Uninterrupted, un-conflicted, stress-free play. I took a shower. I sipped a cup of coffee before it went cold. I sat down to write out all of these words that I couldn't stop from flowing out of me before the play ceased and I forgot them. 

I want to be more like my children. Playing freely and creatively without a care in the world. I want to be less interested in deadlines and 'shoulds' and RULES. Eat this, not that, do this, not that, don't put yourself out there, don't take that risk. So this is my takeaway for you: play more. Don't follow all of the rules. Play like a child, without a care in the world. Take a day off, wear that fancy dress on a weekday, leave your makeup in the cabinet, send that email you've been dreading to send, share your dreams with a friend over coffee. Because at the end of the day you're going to remember the joy filled times and you're going to know those are the moments that shaped your life. Not the stressful ones where you're worried and anxious. The playful ones are where it's at. 

Brianna Towne