By Donnie Mullins
Like most noble things, this idea sprung from a simple beginning. I was having breakfast with my friend, Chris, and told him that I had sold my stake in a co-owned business to spend more time at home with my son.
Holding down a full-time job and working almost every weekend left little room for father-son time.
It also hit home when my wife revealed that as part of his nightly prayers, Cooper, 6, asked for me to be home more.
This brought tears to my eyes and great sadness as I too had a father who showed love by hard work and providing for our family.
It was a full circle moment.
Now that my decision to sell has come and past, I told my friend I intend to make the most of my new-found freedom for my family.
Picking up on that idea, Chris suggested that, since this was January, I should consider adopting the same goal as him – 100 days of play with our children.
Chris had two ground rules – play has to last at least 30 minutes and take place outside the home.
I needed to reconnect with my son and this project seemed like an ideal approach.
Of course, outside play provides other benefits for kids who today seem more connected to the virtual world than the real one.
Growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I played outside every day with my neighbors, and we never needed “play dates.”
Instead of iPads, game stations and other examples of the wired age of today, my friends and I had tag, hide and go seek, kickball and most seasonal sports.
Kids today need that kind of play.
I shared the idea of 100 days of play with Cooper and my wife, Kari, and everyone embraced it.
Outdoor play in the winter is challenging but as the school year ends and we head into summer, Cooper and I are up to 35 days of play.
We have ridden bikes, used local playgrounds, shot baskets in the driveway, walked at the Arboretum and hiked at Raven Run.
We may more than double our days of play in the summer.
First, there is baseball. Along with his games and team practices, Cooper and I have our own practices where we play catch and work on fundamentals,
Second, there is swimming. Like most kids his age, Cooper morphs into a fish in the summer. He’s at the pool every day.
I plan to be there with him.
I can see a difference in Cooper already. He’s having fun and comes alive when he’s engaged in play. He also spends less time playing video games.
And now he asks to do things with me – is there a better feeling for a parent?
We are both healthier and so is our relationship. This has been all about bonding and that’s what is happening.
Cooper is also learning life skills like the importance of striving for something. Practice has made him a better baseball player, so he is learning how to work toward a goal.
When a kid achieves something on his own, he really owns it. It’s his. I’ve seen that in Cooper.
And one more thing – I really enjoy being with my son. Children are your biggest legacy, and the more you invest in them, the more you can cultivate good values in them.
In life, we too often focus on the destination when the journey is the greatest part of the adventure.