It can feel odd sometimes, to be an adult who talks about play so much. Advocating means saying yes: play is important for children at school. Yes: play is important for communities, for the earth. Whatever the conversation, play should be part of it. Play is, for me, nothing less than the chance to follow one’s own inclination freely and in good company, to feel like you’re really living.
Our culture has so many reasons to deny that need, so many voices saying that education and work are more important. The judgments of others are offered freely, making people feel (and be) unsafe to relax, experiment, express. As people who care about children, play deprivation is an urgent tragedy no matter what else is happening in their lives.
But what about our own? As noted over-thinker Hamlet said: there’s the rub.
Suzanna and I have talked before about how we play, how other adults have told us that they’ve played, and what we’ve learned about play for adults and the community. We’ve also hosted pop-up adventure playgrounds for groups of adults – teachers, social workers and others play at nearly all of our workshops. There’s something amazing about watching a group of professionals with colanders on their heads, building marble courses out of cereal boxes, giggling underneath blanket forts. Every single time, I worry that this time it isn’t going to work, that the magic won’t happen. And every single time, I watch these beautiful weirdos play and love them.
What is play in your life?
In previous sessions of the Adult Play Course, people reached slightly different conclusions than we do on behalf of children. They talk about fears they’ve felt, and what helps them be brave. They talk about building new relationships with the voices inside their heads, and practicing ‘play opportunism’ through more of the day – not waiting for the Perfect Play Moment (and putting a lot of pressure on it) but instead slowly opening up to small possibilities, like a daisy to the warm sun.
It can be hard to prioritise play in our own lives right now, when so much feels like just Getting Through hard times. It’s easy to postpone, or deny yourself the support necessary to make changes you already have in mind. But no one does anything alone, and it’s always time to live. When we’re struggling, that’s when we most need to be in connection with that little voice inside – the one that tells us to slow (for just a minute!) and enjoy, the one that whispers scandalous ideas, the one that wants to laugh. That relationship is our own wellspring of healing, connection, and invention.
The Adult Play Course is a short series of small group, reflective sessions. It’s a space in which people share what is going on for them with regards to play, and we all listen. Suzanna and I, as official Big Play Nerds, bring in specific pieces of theory or relevant research, and as a group we discuss them. An enormous part of change is this process, of hearing ideas and thinking about how they feel, talking about experiences and feeling heard, trying new things in ‘regular’ life and telling folks who’ll understand. We’re on that journey with you, every session.
A hunger for adult play
As always, we want to make sure everyone who wants to participate is able to. No one is ever turned away for lack of funds. If you are hitting other barriers to access (such as time zones, reliable internet, whatever), please get in touch and we’ll figure it out together.
Too many of us are hungry for play in our own lives, and that makes it infinitely harder to be the playworkers and advocates (and people) we want to be. Your play, your ability to live fully, is vitally important too. Giving yourself permission to play is one thing – can you also ask for help when you need it? Are you ready to explore, without pressure, what play might mean to you?
Join us, and let’s see what’s possible together.