Play Together, Stay Together

24 October 2020

3.9 MINS

The science shows that families who play together stay together, for more reasons than one. Jim Burns, in his article “Families that Play Together Stay Together”, said,

“Playing together is an essential trait of happy, healthy families. Certainly, our children need to do their chores, and of course they need discipline with consistency, but what they also need desperately from their parents is a rousing game of hide-and-seek or a monthly Ping-Pong tournament.

A great thing happens to families when they play together: They begin to talk and laugh and lighten up. Family memories are built, inside jokes are shared, and serious moments of intimacy are communicated. Families need special times together to build lifelong memories and to play together.

As most experts will tell you, a family that plays together stays together. But I would add that a family that plays together will also be much more happy and healthy. For many families, play is the missing ingredient that glues the family together. Play can even open closed spirits and heal broken marriages.

We know instinctively that play produces family togetherness and support. We know that when we play together, we have a deeper sense of belonging and community in the family. Parents must proactively work at making a sense of belonging and community one of their key goals for family togetherness.”

Dr. Laura Markham, in her article “The Family That Plays Together”, observed,

“From the infectious fun of side-splitting laughter to the exuberance of an impromptu pillow fight, infusing a spirit of joy and playfulness into your home nurtures your family like little else.

Playing together is an almost magical way to build connection. Not surprising, since when we laugh, our body releases oxytocin into our systems. So when you’re laughing with someone, you’re bonding. Laughter also transforms bad moods by decreasing the stress hormones circulating in your body.

That’s why playing together is one of the fastest ways to heal minor relationship stress, help people drop grudges, and bring the family into sync. Play and laughter create a happy feeling in your home.

Research shows that humor is an invaluable part of smoothing over the rough spots of life, from royal goofs on our part to simple bad luck. Couples who can use affectionate humor to deflate anger have happier relationships. And children whose parents use silliness to keep the day flowing smoothly are lucky indeed. Sometimes it’s the only way to convince a toddler or preschooler to cooperate with your agenda.

In fact, some parents say that unless they make instructions to their younger kids into a game, their children are so engrossed in play that they don’t even notice them.

Instead of:
“Eat your breakfast now!”
why not try:
“Little Gorilla, it’s time for breakfast, come eat your bugs and bananas!”
Instead of:
“Get in the car!”
why not try:
“Don’t you think your steam shovel wants to get in the car now so he can see the construction site on the way to school?”

Given how hard life can be at times, my opinion is that we need to seize all the joy, silliness, fun and humor we can get.

The best way to start cultivating more playful fun in your house is to make it part of your routine. You can do this by simply trying new ideas, and if they work, repeating them. That creates fun traditions for your family to enjoy and look forward to. Not all rituals need to be serious or spiritually joyous, some of the best are silly. But don’t wait for special times; any part of daily life can be made into a game.

For instance:

  • Use funny voices.
  • Trade roles at the dinner table so that each family member acts as someone else (kids’ portrayals of adults can be hilarious).
  • Have a race to get dressed and in bed for story time. Instead of kids racing against each other, which worsens sibling rivalry, have kids work as a team, racing against the adult.
  • Compete at making baskets with the dirty laundry while doing household cleanup together.
  • Make up funny song lyrics in the car.
  • Gentle physical roughhousing with some kids as they wake up in the morning can put everyone in a good mood for the day. My own personal favorite is a competition to take off each other’s socks!
  • And when you’re feeling a bit dispirited and want to shift the mood and reconnect, why not start a pillow fight?

It’s hard not to agree with Jim and Laura. Playing with your children is both fun and healthy, and promotes togetherness.


The good news is, this week Dads4Kids is launching a month of FUN for Dads and their kids throughout the month of November. Your mission in November is to play with your kids more than you ever have before. To encourage you in this mission and help raise funds for Dads4Kids at the same time, we are asking you to accept the Decorate Dad Challenge:


For more information about the Decorate Dad Challenge, check out the link here.

Yours for More Playtime,
Warwick Marsh

PS: To launch the month of FUN in November, we invite you to come along to the Decorate Dad Zoom Webinar at 8PM AEDT (NSW, VIC, TAS time) this Wednesday night 28 November. You will meet the Dads behind the Decorate Dad Challenge. You will hear more of the benefits of playing with your children and the importance of fun. You will see a never-before-seen video. You will meet a very brave Dad who raised $600 unasked by shaving his beard for Dad4Kids.
Use this link with this password: 027819

[Photos: Gustavo Fring from Pexels; Allen Taylor on Unsplash; Pixabay]

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