To Do: Make Time for Play

b763754b6193d668e996eb69091f9bc8Thanks to the grandparents and their willingness to watch our kids, my husband and I were able to take a much-needed vacation – just the two of us. We explored a couple of amazing cities – Seattle, Vancouver and Whistler – but now it’s back to business.

Chores, shuttling the kids around, meal prep and cooking, and of course the office. Still, I am hoping to hold onto that vacation glow. Obviously week-long vacations are rare, so I need to make time for fun spurts – a spontaneous dance party with the kids, diving into a summer beach read, running through the sprinklers, or trying a new haunt in town.

A few weeks ago, I finished Brigid Schulte’s Overwhelmed, a great book examining how we spend our time in the areas of work, love and play. As busy moms, we usually have few minutes to spare, but as Shulte discovers on her own journey, we absolutely must carve out time to play.

And summer is the perfect season to play, right?

To offer some inspiration for incorporating more fun into your days, I turned to a few of my favorite working moms for ideas. Check out their suggestions below.

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Dressing up in silly hats and costumes for afternoon tea with my daughters. Playing hooky from work to spend a summer day with my girls. Shopping with my mom. Indulging in a full-body massage. Long lunch with friend.Nicole, Work in Sweats Mama

I’m a big fan of Girls Night Out — we working moms need time to socialize and bond without husbands and kids in tow (much as we love them). Even meeting up for an early dinner and drinks can be so rejuvenating. My other play time? This will sound crazy but I do a 5:15 a.m. boot camp that I just love. There are lots of working parents in this group and even though this class kicks my butt, it’s so much fun. Definitely my play time!Portia, Working Motherhood

One thing my mom friends with little girls and I have been doing is faux “slumber parties.” Since the girls aren’t old enough to have actual sleepovers, we have a movie or princess night. The little girls play or watch a movie and the moms chat and drink wine and eat snacks. It’s a lovely way to have girl time and daughter time. I also have been experimenting with really bright and fun nail polishes. Love the way they make me feel!Alexa, No Holding Back

A great way to incorporate ‘play’ into your life while also squeezing in some adult and/or couple time is to host a game night at your home (after the kids are in bed). There are so many fun games for adults, and playing games with friends that you don’t get to see nearly enough is so refreshing! Plus, you get to have a fun (and cheap) adult night without even needing a babysitter. Our favorites are: Catchphrase, Scattergories, Pictionary, Apples to Apples and the slightly more intense Agricola.Bryn, Her Own Wings

Play? What’s that? Yeah, about the only play I manage to make time for is with my kids. They are, after all, the play experts. 🙂 But for play as an adult, I would suggest first extricating yourself from your smart phone (this is key to eliminating distractions and multitasking) and then going about something you consider “unproductive” (meaning you’re not checking something off your “to do” list) and enjoyable. It could be feeding the fish at a local pond, doodling a picture, listening to your favorite jazz album, reading a few short stories, walking aimlessly. Just something to free your mind and let yourself enjoy the moment, for a little while.Susan, Working Moms Against Guilt

Gardening. Going to the library and finding the books I’ve wanted to read. Go a couple of towns over to a new restaurant by myself. Explore the health store for a long time – I’m usually rushing or one of the kids has to potty or is hungry.Leah, Leah Slags Blog

I always try to “play” when I travel for work. In fact, I wrote a post about it. My favorites are always jump on the bed in the hotel room. It makes you feel like a kid again, and shop for fun, inexpensive jewelry in airports.Liz, Hello Ladies

Play for me is going to the beach, which living on an island, is practically my backyard. It’s way too easy to not go to the beach, to fill up my Sunday, my only day off from work, with errands and cleaning. However, it’s important to decompress. And it’s important to spend time with my kids. I have always worked outside of the home and rely on “quality time” versus a large quantity of time, to stay connected with my children.Ilene, Hippie Chick Granola

One of the things I am trying to coordinate for this summer is a Wine and Canvas Girls Night out!  I think it would be a fun way to “play” with my friends this summer 🙂  Katie, Sluiter Nation

Incorporating play into life is essential for a working mom’s sanity.  Between housework and our careers, we have so many obligations and things to do. Playing is a way that we can just be and experience joy. Things I do for play are walking outside and having cocktails with friends when I can. The other thing I’ve been enjoying lately is singing songs in the car with my daughter. She’s three and a half and has discovered Katy Perry. The car rides are short so the moments are fleeting. Still, we have to take advantage of play wherever we can find it! — Chaton, Chaton’s World

My kids play outside more readily now that summer’s here. I like to take 10 minutes after work to sit on the deck, listen to them play (or fight!), and sip a nice beverage while I flip through a magazine. Ahh. After 10 minutes, they usually convince me to be the wiffle ball pitcher or ‘It’ in a rousing game of tag. Why not? I’m usually laughing at my old lady incompetence within 30 seconds! — Katy, Experienced Bad Mom

Wishing you a fabulously fun summer! Don’t forget to play!

5 Ways To Pump Up Productivity … And Rest Too

productivityIt’s lunchtime, and I’m debating whether or not to spend the hour at my desk, or escape. I’m tempted to continue typing away. Just one more email, one more page, one more review.

Some might label this behavior as impressive. Just look at the commitment, the dedication, the discipline.

But really, if I stay, I’ll pay for the “butt in the chair” routine later. Without a break, my work is likely going to take twice as long to complete, it will lose some edge in creativity and punch, and my attitude and energy will take a dive.

So, I step away and walk. Just for a few, but I need to feel some sunshine on the face. I need to move and stare at something other than barren meeting rooms and the computer screen.

I love the mounting research that has surfaced over the past few years on productivity and work. Studies continue to reveal long hours and working non-stop harms our output, rather than helps us produce more.

Of course, most corporate cultures and old-school bosses believe otherwise. Many still see the individual who stays late and emails into the wee hours of the night as the “golden child” or as Brigid Schulte refers to in her latest book, Overwhelmed, “the ideal employee.”

So what’s a driven employee to do? Well, I’ve always favored results and performance, so I’m a fan of finding ways to get out of the rut and into the zone.

There are days, yes, where I simply must put the hours in, but when I really need to produce, I turn to actions that get the creative juices flowing.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Sort or clean a cluttered space. Nothing too overwhelming. But clean up the piles on your desk, so some quick filing, tackle the junk drawer. I find a quick clean of a space also clears my mind and gets the productivity revving.
  2. Go for a run, or walk, or jump into some basic exercise activity. Again, the motion clears my mind, and I often think of some of my best ideas as I’m sweating it out. I write leads in my head as I jog, and bounce around campaign ideas.
  3. Take a different route. Drive to work or head home on different roads. You’ll likely need to pay attention more to the ride, and perhaps you’ll discover some inspiration along the way.
  4. Take a dream day. This is not always realistic, but take some time to visit a new place or store. Enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee somewhere different. This could be as simple as cruising a furniture store or the aisles of Ross. Take in the smells, the sounds, the fabrics. Mix it up.
  5. Leave time for play and relaxation. Take a nap, read a book, flip through some magazines. Do something that recharges you and brings you calm. If we’re always wound up, how can we create and produce quality work?

I’m hopeful more people will discover long hours in the office don’t necessarily equate to more productivity. And ideally, we’ll learn the best work can come if – and only when – we give ourselves time to rest and play.

Do you have any tips and tricks to becoming more productive?