Tension busting with Play
"You Can Have It All" scream the smug self-help sirens.
"If this is having it all, you can keep it" I grumble, unstrapping my unfeasibly large son from the carseat. Late back from juggling cabinetmakers, customers, cashflows and credit controllers, I rush around the corner to collect the girls from SOCKS, the village out of school club for kids I'd set up with lottery funding. A tight smile under the lipstick, all the while gathering the girls into coats, I manhandle the buggy.
"Late again? It really won't do."
"So sorry" I cringe, backing out of the door.
Fast forward an hour and dinner has turned into a scene from the Lebanon. Lebanon? What is going on there at the moment, what's happening in the real world, what is happening to my life? Between running the family business, after my Dad handed it over and promptly set up in opposition, being a School Governor, running SOCKS, three children under eight and a husband in his family business I certainly did have it all, ON MY PLATE!
Everyone is tired and crabby. My negative scold catches in my throat, and instead, I break out into a West Country accent:
"Right children, Peggy here, I've sent your Mother upstairs for a nap. What shall we do?"
A little left field perhaps, but my kids are used to my various voices from reading them stories at bedtime.
"Peggy!" they cheer and the indulgent Nanny alter-ego breaks the tension, and my tendency to snap, in a single stroke.
The learning? Even when you are at breaking point, or perhaps especially when you're at breaking point, allow yourself to play. Notice the negative emotion and choose to shift, it will help diminish those negative neural pathways. Playful creativity rests your tired analytical brain and ideas abound. And this can work just as well in the office with your team. If you encourage playful creativity your are opening their minds to endless possibility where all the best ideas come from.
Next time you're feeling the pinch add a little dose of playful silliness and see what happens.
"Toejam tea for pudding anyone?"