My first post was about how starting a blog is like having a baby. You may have been left thinking that while the payoff of having children is obvious – and if you don’t agree with that statement, I’m hoping I can convince you with time – the benefits of starting a blog aren’t so readily apparent. So why are we doing this?

Well, I thought you’d never ask!

There are two main reasons. First, to be a better parent to my children. Second, to push myself to meet great, playful parents, to learn from them, and to share fun parenting ideas. Let me expound a bit.

“Playful Parenthood” defines my aspiration, not my current state of existence. At a church conference in October of last year, a spiritual leader I admire named Tad R. Callister said something profound that hit home.

We might ask ourselves: do our children receive our best spiritual, intellectual, and creative efforts, or do they receive our leftover time and talents, after we have given our all to our Church calling or professional pursuits?

Now, you might assume that the question made me feel guilty. And you may be right, but more than anything I was inspired to change.

You see, I entertain kids for a living. Mostly, my career hours are spent developing new attractions, whether they be new games and rides or completely new entertainment business models. All day I think about what will make families play, laugh, and and learn together. But by the time I get home, that often means my creative energy and my desire to entertain children are completely and utterly spent.

I definitely don’t always give my “best spiritual, intellectual, and creative efforts” to my family. And often my kids receive my “leftover time and talents.” Not cool. That’s not the kind of dad I ever planned to be. So I committed to creating a new vision of fatherhood for myself. And I thought that maybe someone would enjoy coming along for the ride, laughing at my missteps and cheering my little wins.

I want to bring what I love to do at work into my home more regularly. I want to give my kids a fun place to live. I want to establish more meaningful traditions. I want them to look back and feel like their dad was growing as a playful parent, not just at entertaining other kids.

But beyond the playful side of my “best efforts,” I want to teach my kids to be creative themselves. I want to teach them to set powerful goals and set to work making their dreams a reality. I want to show them that a happy life is filled with service, God, patriotism, music, storytelling, cooking, art, and friendship. I want to show them that money management can be a positive experience, that a clean kitchen makes cooking more fun, and that hard work pays dividends – especially when learning to play the ukulele or juggle.

I’m also hoping that along the road, I’m going to meet others who find the Playful Parenthood aspiration to be a worthy goal. I want to find painters, graphic designers, filmmakers, musicians, and toy designers who will share with us how they use their craft to enrich the lives of their children. I’m also excited to discover accountants, lawyers, doctors, and teachers who can share with us how they bring practical skills from the workplace into their homes. I’m excited to start this journey and use it to grow as a father in ways I’m not yet anticipating.

As a final note, I developed that fun little Playful Parenthood logo as a symbol to myself. Honestly, I hate that paddle ball game. I’ve never been any good at it. But I’m symbolically turning in my standard-issue parenting paddle for a more playful variety. While I’ve never believed in physical punishment except in the very rarest of circumstances (let me reiterate – I’ve never owned a paddle or any other discipline device; I’m being metaphorical here), I admit that giving my children just my emotional leftovers has at times left me less patient and playful than my kids deserve. I’d like to change that. But, as with the paddle ball game, I’m not expecting this to be an easy skill to acquire. And that, my friends, is my primary reason for starting to blog. I’m hoping that occasionally writing about the journey will give me the encouragement I need to stick with it.

So here’s to the journey to a Playful Parenthood. Wish us luck (us being me, my wife, and anyone else who wants to join us). And hang on to your hats and glasses – this here might be the wildest ride in the parenting blogosphere!

Author Dustin Smith

Dustin is the father of four awesome kids and works as a consultant and entrepreneur in location-based family entertainment.

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