Playful parenting can shift feelings of tiredness and irritability

It’s tough right now.

Even though my family has been impacted upon in less dramatic ways that many others, it has been a challenge adjusting to being in lockdown.

We’ve had fewer pleasant diversions, such as going out, eating out, and seeing friends. And we’ve had more screen time.

I found myself feeling really tired and irritable when I got up this morning, even after a solid night’s sleep.

It’s really hard to parent in that state, but I didn’t feel like doing anything to shift it.

I sat down with my son and we made a rough plan for our day.

We were using some coloured pens, one that was fluorescent, and I joked that it was so bright that it was burning my eyeballs.

My son started drawing on his fingers with this pen and shoving his fingers in front of my face.

I could have got annoyed. But luckily I had a little scrap of resources left to respond playfully!

Soothing self (10)

I responded in an over-the-top way, shut my eyes, used my hands to “shield” my face, and said. “Argh! It’s blinding me!”.

He laughed, and took his fingers away. Then he “shocked” me again with them, and I reacted again in the same way.

He laughed some more, I laughed, and we kept playing over and over a few times.

This a classic power reversal game, where my son gets to feel like he is the powerful one, inflicting “pain” on me!

The laughter helps him to release tension and feelings of powerlessness he might be feeling, for example, about being in lockdown, or from when I’ve used “power over” with him.

And it was fun for me too! It felt really good to laugh. It helped me to release some of the activation in my system, and left me feeling a bit lighter and looser, and more connected with him.

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