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Stress? Try Play!



Parenting is one of the most difficult things many of us will ever do.  We stress over the lives of our kids, just hoping that we don't mess them up forever.  Despite this, did you know that parenting makes you happier?  A study conducted by UC Riverside (universityofcalifornia.edu) shows that parents have better "well-being" scores than those without kids.  These measures include things like happiness, stress, satisfaction, and symptoms of depression.  Interestingly, while all parents score better in these areas, father's scores improve the most.  

One researcher suggested that this may be connected to the fact that fathers tend to report more play time with their children.  This reminds me of a tenant we recently had in our Airbnb upstairs.  The mother and the kids stayed in the home all day, but they were so quiet we barely knew they were there.  As soon as the dad returned from work though, we knew it.  For at least 30-45 minutes we heard little feet running around, loud shouts, and thumps as they rough-housed with their father as a welcome home.  It put a smile on my face just hearing the sounds of play and laughter upstairs.  

Another potential answer is suggested in much of the work of psychologist Jordan Peterson.  Peterson claims that in taking on more responsibility we find meaning, and in meaning we find well-being.  I hesitate to say happiness because I think Peterson would find the idea of happiness fleeting and fickle.  Peterson suggests some deeper need being met by finding meaning in responsibility.  

Either or both suggestions could be true.  Either way the study reminds us to find the joy in this meaningful task of parenting.  It reminds us that all the hard worth is worth it, and that we should slow down and enjoy it a little.  Take a little time today to set aside the to-do list, and just PLAY as a celebration with your kiddos for the life lived together.  Enjoy the Art of  being a Family!

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