How to Survive as a Sustainable Human Jungle Gym.

Large family gatherings for the holidays can involve numerous toddlers and children who want to climb on their older relatives. The lifting, chasing and general rough-housing can be exhausting for anyone over the age of 12. Here are some tips to pace the "fun."

To pace your play, make sure that you develop a narrative with your younger relatives. Whenever you get tired of the physical play you can ask one of the children to explain what will happen next in the story. The ensuing discussion will give you a few minutes to catch your breath. Here are a few more tips:

  • Ask your young relatives to pick a specific animal and name to act like. They'll likely change their minds dozens of times in ways that reveal their personalities.
  • If the kids are too loud for the rest of the adults, create a story point that steers them away. "The living room is lava" works well.
  • When the kids start running too fast, invent a reason in the story that requires everyone to move in slow motion.
  • If the story created involves a villain, take on that role yourself to avoid children playing against each other. Find ways to be an inept villain.

And perhaps the best reason to make your play into a story is that stories have endings.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user ChadCooperPhotos under the Creative Commons Attribution license.