As a busy parent, I’m always looking for ways to unwind and tap into that feeling of pure, unadulterated fun I remember from childhood. You know, back when the hours stretched out endlessly ahead, filled with possibility? These days I’m lucky if I can catch up on laundry and emails, nevermind find time for play. But I believe making space for joy matters—for my kids and, frankly, for me too.
So I’ve become an enthusiast for what I call “timeless fun.” These are activities, games, and creative pursuits that spark imagination, laughter, and connection no matter your age. When I can carve out pockets for my family to engage in these pastimes away from screens and multitasking, beautiful things start to happen. We rediscover our playful spirits. Stress and anxiety fade away. Bonds are strengthened as we make eye contact, listen, and immerse ourselves in sheer fun.
Let me paint the picture for you. An epic afternoon recently when my partner Kyle and I called a family meeting, looked the kids sternly in the eyes, and said: “Fun is now mandatory for the next three hours. Phones off, screens off, chores off.” After a pause, the skeptical eyebrow raises gave way to tentative smiles. We broke out boxes of colorful art supplies I’d hidden away. Turquoise feathers, glittery pom poms, and neon pipe cleaners emerged along with childlike curiosity.
What unfolded felt like a creative explosion—a little messy, wildly absurd, filled with laughter ’til our bellies ached. We cobbled together vibrant creatures and invented magical realms where our winged and fuzzy characters could frolic. As Kyle described the Emperor Flamingo’s elaborate hot air balloon made of daisies, I caught my daughter’s eye. We beamed at each other, basking in this shared world we’d brought to life. Timeless fun at its finest.
That magical afternoon reminded me how easy it can be to access this feeling of play and connection. Simple, open-ended materials are all you need to spur imagination. For us, art supplies are huge—but play dough, building blocks like LEGOs or Magna-Tiles, or costumes and props also ignite creativity for kids of all ages. Board games prompt engagement through laughter and friendly competition. Outdoors, games like tag or made-up treasure hunts exploit nature’s playscape for adventure grounded in the real world.
As the adult, relinquishing control is key. Following the child’s lead with sensitivity and encouragement, rather than directives, allows whimsy to unfold. Absurdity should be nurtured! Foster collaborative storytelling and engage the mind through wonder by asking open-ended questions. Most importantly,participate actively—don’t just watch from the sidelines. Your engagement enlivens the experience.
Does this kind of “non-productive” play take extra effort to make space for amid busy adult lives? Sure. But the vital recharging, connection and joy that unfold impacts every other aspect of life. When we play together in these timeless ways, stresses become insignificant. My bond with each child deepens, helping navigate life’s sharper edges with empathy. And my own inner-child feels seen, finding blissful hours to dance and imagine once more.
As the Emperor Flamingo still stands regally in our living room, I’m newly committed to opening up pockets for timeless fun when I can. Even 30 minutes makes a difference. Unfettered play nourishes our spirits unlike anything else. To all busy parents, I say: be silly, make a mess, unleash your playful spirit today. You and your kids both deserve it. Just watch how joy ripples out into the rest of your lives!