This week I attended Disney’s Discover Together Symposium at Disneyland, along with representatives of over 60 family oriented non-profits. I learned something that is fairly obvious, but bears repeating.
Play is super important. Not just for kids, but for adults, families, communities and society as well.
Several studies were presented during the morning’s meetings, demonstrating the importance of influential adults in children’s lives and the importance of play in those relationships. Playfulness in the family affects everything: Relationships, learning, and vital skill-building. All of these factors affect a child’s ability to succeed and ultimately, define the future. It’s never too late to make room for play in your life.
So what I was hearing was that families need to play more! Duh! I’m always telling my kids to go outside and PLAY. Finally someone is telling me to go with them!
The importance of play is something that Walt Disney always knew and that Disney continue to do best. With every age group, culture, socio-economic group, play levels the playing field (pun intended) and brings us all together in the same ways, regardless of our background. Playful families are successful families.
One of Walt Disney’s famous quotes was “Laugher is timeless. Imagination has no age.”
As obvious as this is, I often need a reminder to make play a priority in my busy, stressed out family life. I’m challenged to find ways to include multiple ages and generations in our play efforts. Some of the things we’ve found work for our family include:
- Cruise vacations: They manage to provide ways to play for everyone and plenty of entertainment opportunities for family members from age 5-85 to enjoy playing together.
- Board games
- Cooking together
- Taking a walk
- Reading a story
- Watching a movie
- Celebrating holidays (and family traditions)
- Family meals
Note about family dinners: We all hear about the importance of a family meal one of the biggest “family assets” that researchers come back to. It’s important to recognize that the important part is sitting around the table together, talking and listening and enjoying each other’s company. It doesn’t have a to be a gourmet home-cooked meal that you slave over. Take out meals, restaurant meals and impromptu picnics count as family dinners as well!
The researchers and non-profit attendees at Discover Together came from organizations like the Make a Wish Foundation, The Center for Childhood Creativity, KABOOM, and the Search Institute. These are organizations that support families everywhere and reach out to families in crisis. They are wise to recognize the role of play in family, and ultimately societal strength. Their goal is to support the next generation, cultivate responsible and empathetic learners, inspire leaders and spark great thinkers.
What a treat to realize that at the root of all these lofty societal goals, is PLAY. I can’t think of a better place to host the Discover Together Symposium than Disneyland.
I’m eternally grateful to Disney for the consistent opportunity to play with my entire family, together. This is why we invest in passes, as I see it as an investment in us. Through play I’m nurturing our family unit and our relationships and setting my kids up for success and hopefully a lifetime of play. Frankly, this seems less expensive and way more fun than therapy!
Is your family playful? Kaboom is searching for America’s Most Playful Family. Share your stories and enter to win one of more than a thousand prizes, including the grand prize – a trip for a family of four to Walt Disneyland or Walt Disney World.