Guess What? Playing With Your Kids Can Help Your Job Performance
By NICK CHILES
Sometimes science can deliver tasty little morsels of good news. Here’s the latest one I heard: playing with your kids can actually reduce your stress at work. Talk about your great two-for-one deals. Come on, that’s like saying that eating more chocolate cake can help you lose weight. That having more sex can make your marriage better. (Oh, wait, that one is true, isn’t it?)
When you’re a busy, overstressed parent, it seems like you spend half your time fussing with your kids, and the other half telling them you don’t have the time to do… whatever it is they are trying to get you to do at the moment. Kids being kids, their request usually has something to do with play. And according to a study of stress by scientists at the LIKES Foundation for Sport and Health Sciences in Finland, we should start agreeing to their play requests if we know what’s good for us. Participants in the study who engaged in more leisure-time physical activity showed lower amounts of job stress. How cool is that—the more we play, the less stress we exhibit on the job.
Who has more expertise at play than our kids? My daughters should be on the verge of Ph.D’s. With them leading the way, I should be on my way to eliminating all stress from my life. Yeah, right.
It’s so easy to lose track of the important stuff, isn’t it? We get so caught up in our adult worlds, chasing adult dollars and solving adult problems, that it becomes so easy to dismiss our kids when they come to us seeking joy. They love us so completely, so overwhelmingly, that having us join them in a favorite game, or in a few minutes of goofy dress-up, could easily become one of those precious childhood memories. But yet we swat away like a fly a chance to create a lifelong memory with our cherished offspring. How selfish. How shortsighted.
So now scientists have come along and actually provided us with an additional reason to play with our kids. In an ideal world, our kids’ joy would be enough. But that’s not where we live. We live in a dreary place called Imperfect. So let the science give us a nudge. Get down on the floor and wrestle. Ball up some socks and play basketball in your bedroom. Get a Nerf ball and play soccer in the living room. The options are endless. Let the playing begin.