Go out and play!

How much space do you give yourself to:

  • Feel your emotions;
  • Play and have fun;
  • Imagine, dream, be creative?

In Hong Kong people work hard. Success is measured in dollar terms and job status, and people fear losing out. With an emphasis on doing, doing, doing, achieving, the energy is one of pushing, working harder and harder, and there’s an unspoken expectation to be permanently ‘on’.

I hear people complain about being stressed, overloaded, and some are beginning to ask ‘Is this it?’ I see people who are busy, busy, busy. Some are addicted to being busy. It can feel like there is no room to breathe. Of course being busy gives the perfect excuse to avoid feeling any painful emotions.

When my children were little, I was keen to get them away from a life that was orchestrated, where everything was arranged for them and they went from one after-school activity to another – tennis, swimming, Kumon …

I wanted them to experience the joy of having time and space with nothing to do. To have the freedom to decide for themselves how to enjoy their time, how to play, explore and create their own games.

We moved back to England when they were aged 4 and 6, having bought a large house in the country with a beautiful garden. To my horror, I found that they were afraid to leave the back door … and my apron strings. They didn’t know how to be in a large space and to simply explore. To dig for worms, lie amongst the bluebells, make a den, kick through autumn leaves…

Of course, they soon learned when I invited new school friends home, friends who had a life where they were told – ‘go out and play’.

We are never too old to enjoy unstructured time, to be spontaneous, and we can never have too much fun. Give yourself some time and space – go out and play!

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