Marion's blog: Bringing back play

A Citymother's Diary

clock Released On 22nd Nov 2020

Marion's blog: Bringing back play

At the start of lockdown, my husband bought a gaming PC. I couldn't work out why he wanted it - it has been years since he'd played computer games and 2 small daughters get in the way of time to do anything, but I left him to it and continued on my merry way.

As lockdown progressed and we settled into the manic shift scenarios we'd designed to cope with full time working and full time childcare (I worked 6-9am and 12.30-3.30pm and hubby did 8.30-12.30pm and 3-6pm or thereabouts and we looked after our girls in between) I found myself less inclined to want to play with my daughters and get involved in their games. I became more snappy and irritable and the glass of wine at the end of every day (rather than one or two nights a week pre-lockdown) became something I relished.

Then, after lockdown 1.0 had lifted and schools had gone back after the summer break, I reached breaking point and was signed off work for a couple of weeks. The culmination of everything that's happened in 2020 got too much to bear and I couldn't keep going the way I was... Something gave.

I felt like the last few months were totally consumed with spinning the plates of work, childcare, teacher, entertainer, chef, PE teacher, cleaner and so on, and when some of those extra plates were (gratefully) removed, I actually had space to process all that's been going on. And one thing I resisted acknowledging was that mentally I'd fallen apart. I found myself overthinking almost everything, crying at the drop of a hat, experiencing sleepless and restless nights and starting each day more exhausted than the last because I couldn't stop my brain. 

So, I took a step back and started thinking about how to make a change. I didn't do anything anymore purely for pleasure and without expectation of an outcome, except for collapsing on the sofa at the end of each day with some mindless TV on. So, I bought myself an adult colouring book and a jigsaw puzzle - activities that exist for no other reason than to provide a sense of achievement and enjoyment – some grown up playing.

I also deleted a couple of apps - fitness and diet-based ones that increased my anxiety, feeling that someone somewhere would notice if I didn't log my activity or food consumption or fasting hours and I'd become the bad subject in a study that never existed.

So, here's to recognising the need to stop and take a step back, switching off from the distractions that consume so much of our daily lives, and returning to activities that exist for the sake of enjoyment - puzzles, colouring, gaming. I hope my daughters see a change in my willingness to play with them again... Because play is the greatest simple pleasure we have, and children are our ultimate guides to engaging in activities with no deliverables expected at the end.


Marion works full time in business services transformation at a global law firm in London, looking after a geographically spread team of business analysts (her second family), and lives with her ever-patient husband and 2 wonderful daughters aged 3 and (almost) 6.

Adeline Willis - 24/11/2020 - 16:58
Marion, what an open and honest blog. I realised I wasnt doing much playing with my kids, and now make a point of doing one thing of their choosing each weekend. My daughters request last weekend was just to do jigsaw puzzles with me. It was so enjoyable just to sit with her undisturbed and enjoy the simple pleasure of playing with her!
Marion Dunn - 30/11/2020 - 08:41
I'm so glad my blog resonated with you Adeline, and that you're finding the joy in playing with your children again. I hope that as we struggle through winter we're able to remember how much benefit we can gain from stepping back and enjoying some non-technology based fun with our children  - jigsaws are fabulous, aren't they!
Bernadette Bowling - 21/01/2021 - 14:49
Thank you so much for this. I have worked all the way through the pandemic due to working in a children's hospital and the one thing I have mum guilt for is not having the energy or patience to play games with my daughter when she returns from nursery or childcare. Maybe I will suggest a jigsaw later. It's also pretty hard taking her out at the weekends if not for the weather but lately (since the pandemic) I have anxiety going anywhere by myself. The playgrounds make this worse so been trying to find places we can walk without having to bump into lots of other people. 
Marion Dunn - 03/03/2021 - 07:06
I hear you Bernadette, and can only imagine how difficult and exhausting you must have found things, having to work through this lockdown as well as wanting the best for your own child. I hope that now with the weather starting to turn and a light at the end of the tunnel, you're able to find some space to look after yourself as well as your daughter. 

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