Play supports whānau and tamariki wellbeing, even in challenging times. Just 10 minutes of play can reduce stress, create positive memories and increase wellbeing. Playtime doesn’t need fancy toys – spending time in nature is free and good for us all.
While we may know all the benefits of whānau playing with their tamariki, it can feel really challenging, especially when whānau are experiencing stress, tiredness and overwhelm.
However, if whānau can manage even just a small amount of playtime, it will support them and their tamariki to feel better. The great news is, that it doesn’t take a lot of energy or time to play! Even just 10 minutes can make a big difference.
Why is play good for whānau wellbeing?
Playing alongside our tamariki creates a sense of closeness and connection, strengthening whānau relationships and bond, creating happy memories for whānau. Feeling connected to others supports positive wellbeing.
Play also supports us to be present, which acts as a mini-mindfulness moment and focuses whānau attention away from stress and worries. Play can also be fun, which creates happy memories for tamariki and their whānau.
Playing during stressful times
Often whānau don’t recognise that play can reduce their stress. A concern for whānau sometimes is that it costs money. The best thing about play is that it doesn’t require expensive equipment or ‘toys’.
Te taiao (nature) can provide play opportunities – hide and seek, climbing rākau (trees), tag, sticks can be swords, orchestra batons, fairy wands or whatever our imaginations bring! Exploring under kōhatu (stones), stacking kōhatu, playing with leaves, and watching clouds are just some ideas.
You might think about your visits with whānau and how they can support play. Perhaps you could visit the local playground together, meet or take a trip to the library or even spend some time in the backyard. Sometimes changing the environment changes the way we behave and supports us to feel more energised or able to play.