How often have you come home feeling stressed and tired after a long day, with the only thought of plopping down on a couch and not moving for the rest of the evening? Traffic jams, errands, being bombarded with information, work demands, and interactions with the world around us often leave us feel drained, tired, and unmotivated. Add to it inability to fully rest if you have children that need your attention, and having a restful or a productive evening might seem impossible. My answer? Grab a snack or have a quick dinner, and head to a nearby park.
Depending where you live, you might substitute another place with trees, fresh air, and a playground or another way for your children to amuse yourself. Near our new place, there are three parks with play structures, from simple to elaborate, and the kids love all of them. They stretch out stiff muscles after classrooms and car rides, and release the last remaining energy after dinner, so that when we start the bedtime routine, they are ready for a rest.
Being outside helps you reset your mind from the worries of the day, from work and chores. You can breathe deeply and connect with nature. There are studies that show that being in green spaces promotes health and longevity. I love walking barefoot on the grass, to connect with the ground and let my feet rest from footwear. You can stretch your own stiff muscles, and you’ll often find that the weight of worries on your shoulders melts away.
Once you’ve breathed deeply and relaxed, you may find you feel new energy coming on. Indulge yourself: use monkey bars and ladders on the playground, crawl through pipes and go down slides, play with your children, do some pull-ups or squats, run and jump, play in the sand. Play is rare in our adult lives, but it is very important for our overall health and well-being. It’s also a great way to get some of the much-needed movement into your often largely-sedentary day. Katy Bowman has a great short video on 30 things you can do at a playground.
If you find yourself if a more introspective mood, you can watch other families play and interact, observing different games people play with their children. You can chat with another family — meeting new people in your neighbourhood may mean a new friend for you or a new playmate for your children.
There are lots of games in which you can participate with your children, your partner, or other families: bring a frisbee, a ball, a jump rope, a bicycle, a hula hoop, or a badminton set. Cool off in a splash pad if there is one in the park — they are great in summertime. Take a turn on the swing — the changes in visual perception and the exhilaration of movement are great ways to shake off the day’s exhaustion.