Make Time for Play Time

Make Time for Play Time

How we can benefit from letting loose right now

March 2021

Remember a year ago, when we didn’t quite know what was coming but we sort of figured it would all be over soon?



Yeah…



This year has been crazy. It’s turned everything on its head, including the routines we’re used to as parents. Parenting is always an incredibly rewarding and challenging act, but during times like these, it’s nothing short of heroic. Trying to keep kids entertained and off their screens? Trying to home-school them while you’re on zoom calls? Trying to have a moment’s peace and quiet? It’s not easy.



That’s why we wanted to write a piece for all your rockstar parents. Today isn’t about tips and challenges for your kid’s playtime. (If you want those, we suggest you head here or here). No, today is parents day. Today we are going to talk about just how important it is for you to have the time to let loose, blow off steam, and be creative.

Three Reasons Why You Should Be Incorporating Play Into Your Day to Day Life

When we tell people we are a toy company, everyone assumes our products are designed just for children. Yes, we have created Clixo with children and their endless supply of creativity in mind, but no, Clixo isn’t just for kids



Clixo is for play, and play is something everyone should be doing. 



Why?



Well, first, off, it’s fun. But it’s also healthy for us. Especially in crazy times like these, play offers us a rare and valuable escape from the stresses of our daily routines. According to a study called “Play, Stress, and the Learning Brain,” play has no immediate survival purpose. It’s done for its own sake, and for the pleasure of the act. It also occurs when we are not under stress or rushing to get other things done.



How many things do you do on a daily basis that are solely for the joy of doing them? (Be honest).



If you’re anything like most of the parents we speak to, your number is probably a whopping zero. So this leads us to reason #1.

1. Letting Go of A Need for Achievement or Productivity Reminds Us of What Really Matters.

It’s a vicious cycle. We work hard, thinking we will someday get to the bottom of our to do list, but somehow it just keeps growing. There’s almost more to do, more to achieve, more goals to reach. We could always optimize our lives more. 



Especially during pandemic times, parents seem to be extra attached to executing control over the small realms in which they feel like they can control things. 



Listen–there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get things done and have an impact on the world. The problem is when we get so sucked into the adult mindset of “go go go, do do do” that we forget why we are doing anything in the first place. 



We forget that the starting motivation to get something done is usually rooted in a desire to get it out of the way, so that we can focus on what really matters.



Maybe we want to retire early so we can travel. Maybe we want to be able to work four days a week so we have more time with the kids. What this all boils down to is a desire to have the space in our life to relax, to have fun, to be ourselves, and to spend time with those we love. 



Play is all of these things. It’s about self-expression and self-exploration. It’s about laughter and curiosity. It’s about letting go of the goal, and being fully present in the journey. Making time for play nourishes us, and reminds us of our core values and motivations. It gives us an opportunity to refresh our minds and spirits, and to get in touch with the child in all of us. In fact, we’d take it a step further and say it’s one of those important activities that reminds us of just how much we have to learn from children. Playing makes us better parents, and better people.



So here’s a suggestion for all you parents out there who have (totally understandable) run out of ideas for entertaining your children during the pandemic. Why not set aside some play time for yourself?



We think you’ll be pretty amazed with what comes out of it. 

2. It Frees Us From Our Need of Control.

There’s probably never been a time in any of our living memory when we felt more helpless and less in control. 



Near the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of the mental health experts out there encouraged adults to keep informed, but limit engagement in the media, as it can only spike that anxiety, and to “focus on the things you can control.” That makes perfect sense: sure, we can’t predict when we will be able to get a vaccine or what will happen to the economy, but we can decide what we will have for lunch today, what board game we will play with the kids in the evening, or whether we want to take a bath or a shower. It may seem small, but these micro decisions are very important for our sense of well-being. 



However, a year in and our patience for being ‘content’ with micro-decisions has grown thin. That’s the second reason we wanted to reach out today and encourage all you adults to take play more seriously as a mental health benefit. Maybe the answer isn’t to keep fighting 24/7 for a tiny plot of control. Maybe the best thing we can do right now is engage as much as possible in activities that free us from our tyrannical need for control. 



Think of play as an antidote to all our adult habits that aren’t serving us right now. Let go of timelines and to do lists, and invest in your creativity and your sanity. Most importantly, don’t approach play as some huge new goal to ‘control’. That would be entirely missing the point. 



Playing as adults can be super simple. If you need a few ideas to get you started, we recommend reading this

3. Parents need Screen-Free Time Too.

Clixo Fascinator Head Piece Bonnet

We all know that screens have come to play too big a role in our lives. There has been special concern for the amount of time that screens take up in children’s lives, especially during COVID-19. All of that is true, but what about you? What about the fact that so many of you are now working all day on your computer, socializing through zoom, and ‘relaxing’ on social media and Netflix?



Adults need screen-free time, too. In a time when we aren’t allowed out much, it’s super important that we don’t get lazy with our free time, but instead lead by example, and get creative. Whether that’s making sure you are making time for reading, family dinners, adventures to the park, or playtime, everyone benefits from time that is spent connecting and rejuvenating rather than sinking into digital sinkholes. 



One of the particularly beneficial aspects of play is that it not only helps us unwind and get away from screens, but it helps us get into our bodies. Since most of us aren’t going to the gym, or out dancing, or even hugging friends, anything that helps us be more embodied is super critical for our health. 



Want to share your story? Reach out to us @my_clixo with what play means to you as an adult, and we may interview you for an upcoming series on making play a part of life for everyone, everywhere. 

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5 Ways to integrate play into your (hectic) daily routine

5 Ways to integrate play into your (hectic) daily routine

Recess: Adults need it too!

March 2021

We recently wrote an article about why it’s so important for adults to make time for play time. Here, we wanted to quickly offer five actionable tips for how you can do that in a sustainable and fun way.

1.Take 10 Minutes to Clixo!

Instead of waking up early and going straight to emails, get your cup of coffee, sit down somewhere away from technology (even for ten minutes), and just let your hands play with Clixo pieces. (Alternatively, take a ten minute break in your workday to Clixo.) The tactile aspect of playing with shapes is proven to be relaxing, and can spark creativity. This is also a great activity for adults who want to meditate but really struggle to do the whole ‘sit still with eyes closed’ thing. The pieces give you just enough to focus on so your brain doesn’t wander, but is also incredibly calming.

2. Play Telephone-creativity With Your Kid (Or Other Kids at Heart).

This is a great, easy way to creatively collaborate. If you are lucky enough to have kids that will play with you, then we recommend following their lead, since kids are so much better primed to play than we are. Here’s how it works: first they make a Clixo creation, and then they pass it to you, and it’s your turn to modify it and turn it into something different. Then it goes back to them, and so on. You’ll be amazed at how ideas transform and evolve into totally new creations. 

3. Use Clixo to Stay Focused.

If you’re genuinely booked from sun up to sun down and can’t find ten minutes for play in your workday, simply turn off your video during one of your zoom meetings and play with Clixo pieces while you listen in. You might be surprised at how much more you can focus while you have something to do with your hands. Better yet, the playing might even generate some new ideas!

4. Replace the Crossword with Clixo

Keeping our brains sharp as we age is important to all of us. Maybe you do the crossword on Sunday, or you like some evening Sudoku. Whether it’s in the bath, on the toilet, or on the subway, bring Clixo with you for some mind-sharpening fun!
(ProTip: Clixo is washable and can be disinfected with 70% isopropyl alcohol and a soft cloth!)

Challenge Yourself (and Others) by Turning Clixo into a Game

Whether you follow some of our game prompts (here or here) or create something completely unique and original – don’t be afraid to get utterly silly with it. (And be sure to share your game with us @my_clixo). 



Got other great ideas for how to make time for play time? Share them with us @my_clixo and we may interview you for our ongoing series about play. 

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An open letter to lovers of instruction booklets

An open letter to lovers of instruction booklets

By Assaf

February 2021

Dear Friends,



I read an alarming article the other day.



In it, Gail Cornwall, a writer who specializes in writing about education and parenting, traces the rising attack on children’s autonomy through increasingly controlling parenting models. She writes, “In recent decades, constantly monitoring and directing kids, or scheduling them to be monitored and directed, not only became the norm for parents who can afford it, but the model of parenting. Indeed, research indicates parents across the class spectrum now consider it the ideal way to parent.”



But what are the costs of this trend? The list is long.



First off, research shows that it increases a sense of helplessness and decreases the growth of agency and resilience. Helicopter parenting has also been linked to depression, anxiety, and lower levels of self-advocacy. 



Now, I’m not a trained expert in parenting, but I have spent over two decades teaching design, working in the toy industry, and developing a philosophy around play.



I can say with complete and unequivocal confidence: attempting to control children’s play is not only counter-productive, but actually damaging to creativity. 

Why? Simply put, children are better positioned to be the masters and guiders of play than we are. When we, as adults, try to control what they do, we are superimposing our much more rigid, limited way of thinking on them. We are doing them a disservice.



You may be asking at this point, what does this have to do with instruction booklets?



Basically, we don’t believe in traditional instruction booklets. Too often, instruction booklets are simply a way for adults to push their way of thinking onto children. However, we received some feedback over the holidays, in which some parents wished Clixo came with more intensive instructions, and so I decided to write an open letter to all you skeptics out there.



The question I would like us to begin with is: “Why do you wish there was an instruction booklet?”



I won’t pretend to know your exact reasoning, but I bet it falls under the following kind of logic. You might think that it’s cheap or lazy to not give children guidance on a toy you just bought. In the absence of extensive instructions, the weight will fall on your shoulders to tell them what to do with it, and isn’t the whole point of a toy that it makes your job as a parent easier, not more difficult?



Let me assure you, the minimalist booklet that comes with Clixo is very intentional, and serves a specific purpose.

As you can see above, it’s not that Clixo arrives with nothing, but that we have very intentionally provided just enough guidance to kickstart creativity, but not so much as to control it. 



One of the core design elements of Clixo is that it is an intuitive toy. We went through over a thousand prototypes to find a base shape that signals in a very obvious way how to connect Clixo pieces to themselves and other pieces. This does enormous work to lower the barrier of entry for children. Instead of unwrapping a complex set of pieces that require forethought, reading, and ‘understanding’ in order to begin, children can jump right into creating. 

This allows them to follow their creative intuition, rather than be corralled from the start by an adult’s opinion on how they should start. 



I can’t tell you how many genius creations I’ve observed come out of children when they were first handed Clixo–many of the creations that have now come to be classics in the Clixo vocabulary were sparked by children thinking outside the box.

Not only does this allow kids to start more quickly and naturally, but it also creates a safe, non-judgemental space for creation, right from the start. The natural by-product of rigid instructions is that they force a binary distinction between a ‘right’ way of doing things, and a ‘wrong’ way of doing things. In line with the research around helicopter parenting, making these strict judgements seriously hinders creativity, but even more concerningly, it has a negative impact on childrens’ development of autonomy and confidence in self-expression. 



Now, there is of course a time and a place for instructions. If you are putting together a piece of Ikea furniture, for example, it’s pretty critical that you assemble the pieces in the right way, in order for the furniture to be functional.

But what’s the point in determining what a child ought to create from the start? At best, they will execute it accurately, and that will be the end of it. When children are forced to create in a certain way, they are unlikely to be inspired or excited to make future creations. It increases their self consciously and anxiety to compare themselves with others, or to keep their creations inside the ‘typical’ box. After all, toys don’t serve a functional purpose–if you’re trying to build a couch, get furniture. If you’re trying to decorate with static models, buy a model set.

If we are being totally honest, kids aren’t the ones who want instruction manuals. It’s parents who want them. 



I don’t say this as an accusation, but as a gentle reminder that the discomfort is a natural part of the process. It’s okay to worry that your child will be bored or won’t know how to have fun within the semi-constraints of an open-ended play system. But ultimately, working through that discomfort is your responsibility as a parent, because in doing so you will be protecting and encouraging your child to thrive creatively. 



At Clixo, we strive to always hit the sweet spot of constraint. In fact, this is one of our five pillars of play philosophy. This means creating an ever-expanding catalogue of challenges for our Clixo community, so that there are sparks of inspiration available, but never rigid guidelines. It’s the difference between leading with instructions versus allowing the community to come seek inspiration, should they want it. 



In other words, it’s the difference between deciding how play should be, and giving you all the tools to create the best form of play for yourself.



Happy playing,
Assaf

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