The POWER of Play

A few nights ago my family and I were all hanging out in the backyard. I was helping my oldest finish up her school for the day. My middle child, the baby, and my husband were all up on the trampoline. The baby going from sitting down to crawling after Dad, while Dad repeated "Don't bounce him too much!" to our daughter.

My oldest finished her school and begged to play. I took the baby off the trampoline so they could really jump. I stood back and enjoyed the joyful, and sometimes rough play of my husband and daughters. It was sweet! But they wanted ME to jump too... I haven't tested out my bladder... umm pee muscles on the trampoline since the birth of our son, so I was a little reluctant. I decided to give it a try.

Baby got to play in the grass for a little while. I got up on the trampoline, half terrified that I'd injure my back up there (it has happened before), and we bounced!! Bounced and ran and giggled and were goofy. Dad soon exited the trampoline and took the baby inside to get ready for bed. I stayed and bounced some more, my knees going all the way up to my chest I was going so high. It was awesome!.... Also, it was nice to know my "muscles" were back to doing their job. We jumped and bounced and ran around for a few minutes longer before going in for the night.

Not a half hour later, as I was frantically, unhappily getting ready to mop the floors, (I hate mopping the floor but the baby is eating off them so...) our eldest popped her head around the corner and said cheerful "Thank you Mom!" I assumed she was talking about for mopping but then she added "Thank you Dad!" and I was confused. "For what?" I asked. She replied, "For playing with me on the trampoline."

I was taken aback. I was pleased. And I was surprised by how much it meant to her. I forget so easily the power of play. What we are conveying to our kids when we play with them. Playing expresses love and interest, that we value who they are, what they like, and where they are at. Isn't that amazing? Playing, which is fun, can do all that! 

It took me back to my time as a missionary in Africa. I spent a year there and it was a tough year. I did lots of different jobs. I did administrative work, cleaned and painted, taught school and Bible classes, and some medical care. At the end of the time, when I was saying my goodbyes, one of my African friends and fellow missionaries said "We will never forget your work of playing with the children." Work? My work was playing with the children?? I came to love on them. I came to teach them and tell them how much love Jesus has for them but play? Playing was my work? That is what made the biggest impression? I understood, smiled and was pleased. Playing with them is showing love and my work was loving on the children.

How rarely do we take the time to express love in this simple way, of play. I encourage you, dear Mama, take some time, play with your children! They will always remember it. They will treasure it! And honestly, it's often a good for us too. :)

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