room on the edge

inspiration (+ a push)

Seriously Having Fun

It’s the last few days of the long school summer holiday here in Spain (12 whole weeks!) and I’ve been reflecting on how we’ve used our time together. Did we mainly use this gift or squander it?

Well, much of it was spent muddling along, trying to forge a home-based ‘routine’ that allowed David and I to both continue working, without depriving the boys (aged 4 and 6) from having us there with them and joining in with their time out. At the beginning, this felt like an almost impossible challenge – I mean 12 weeks!!

But it really wasn’t. What did the boys want to do with their time out? Well, not surprisingly, they wanted to play… and play… and sleep and play. As adults, we don’t bat an eyelid to this – it’s natural for children to want to play, isn’t it? It’s what we expect of them. So, we let them play. We even let them play on their ‘new’ Playstation 2, the latest addition to their ever-growing range of playthings.

They played for hours contentedly, mastering the controls, trying out different games, mostly racing against each other in exciting fast cars on Gran Turismo or Rally cross. Yes, there was the occasional fight over whose go it was, but we solved that together by showing them how to programe the timer on the oven to beep after 10 minutes. They loved this and taking turns became a game in itself.

What else, apart from being plugged in? Well, they did a stash of paintings and drawings (mainly of cars). They made Lego fantasies (mainly with 4 wheels). They bounced on the sofa. They had hosepipe fights. They raced naked round the outside of the house. They played with PhotoBooth on my Macbook when I wasn’t looking. They mastered taking their own photos with the litlle digi camera my parents gave me for my birthday. They played with the lovely kids next door when they came for their summer holidays. They played giant Snakes & Ladders, complete with inflatable snakes. They swung themselves silly in the hammocks under the trees. They made their own juice bar, menu and set up an outdoor restaurant for a day when our friends came to stay. They filled an entire Doodle book and drew ever-more complex Transformers on their mega sketcher. Hal found a YouTube video and followed the step-by-step instructions all by himself for how to draw a fantastic Sonic the Hedgehog for a friend’s birthday card. They had a sleepover in the yurt in the garden with our visitors.

And what about our time together? We made breakfasts of pancakes and suppers of home made pizza and covered the kitchen in flour and crumbs. TheO combed and restyled my hair and then laughed. We planted some seeds and grew sunflowers, some of which even survived to seed some more. We curled up on the sofa and watched movies like Dr. Doolittle and Night in the Museum and even High School Musical 2 – we laughed and laughed, especially when papa groaned every time they broke into song. We made our own fab pop video birthday card using only the i-sight camera and enthusiasm. We made a few slideshows from old photos on Animoto. We investigated random questions as they came up, on the internet, because we could (we now have broadband!). We went for some evening walks along the ‘river’. We went pool-hopping on various days to try and keep cool. I smiled and clapped as Hal gained his swimming confidence by donning a mask and snorkel and going under water every time he swam and TheO enjoyed floating with his dolphin armbands. We even ventured at last to Aquatropic, the water park in the big town and slid down the tubes, screaming… In short, we’ve played together. Actually, it turns out, it’s natural for adults to want to play too, it’s just not what we expect of them…

Was this time squandered then? In some ways I feel we’ve got nothing much to show for a whole 12 weeks – we haven’t been anywhere very far, we didn’t even leave the house on many of the days, we haven’t seen many people, just a few close friends and I haven’t really progressed my business very far, as most of my clients have also been on holiday duty with their own families.

So how come I feel like celebrating?

We’ve just bumbled through, without much of a plan – no goals, no agendas. Each day we did whatever felt right, whatever the boys were in the mood to or had the right energy to do, because that’s all we could do at the time, given the heat and our budget. But on reflection, I’m so glad it’s been a summer of play, rather than a summer of ticked boxes or achieved goals. I feel like celebrating because we’ve really made the most of being together, just co-existing in the same space at times, but totally engaged with one another at others.

If I can take even some of that intuitive, relaxed, non-attached attitude into the next 12 weeks as we all get back to business-as-usual-mode, I know that working will feel more and more like play, which is exactly how I’ll know when I’ve got it right for both myself and my clients.

So a happy end of summer to you all!!

Some questions for you:

  • What elements of your own summer will you chose to take with you into the next 90 days?
  • When did you last play at work or work at play?
  • When you were younger, what did you love to play most?

Please post your answers or comments below!

Thanks to Jennifer Lee for sharing the TED talk above: here’s an inspirational link to her Life Unfolds blog for those of you who want to bring more play and creativity into your lives.


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