Adult Parallel Play – ‘cos playing together is better!

Mum and Jnr rock out whilst Dad completes that report


Let’s face it – today’s world is a super busy place.  You need to juggle a job (maybe multiple jobs), a family, social life and time for yourself.  That can be difficult to do and still have quality/quantity time for those closest to you.  This is where parallel play comes into the mix, and why we should endeavour to use it more.  Most people I know tend to isolate work from play – and I’d agree with that.  It’s incredibly difficult to do both of those things together effectively.  What can often occur at the same time though, is that we segment relationship building time as well.  Now this certainly does NOT have to be the case.


Studying together can be more effective – and a relation builder

Parallel play is a form of play in which children play adjacent to each other, but do not try to influence one another’s behaviour.  Why shouldn’t this continue in adults?  It definitely should.  We’re not just talking about work time either – people can be doing completely unrelated activities and it can still be a bonding moment.  In fact – as I’m starting this post over on the couch (I’ve just knocked out some office work at the same time), my girlfriend is marking assignments across the room.  Every now and then I see her look over here and smile, and I do the same.  There is a comment exchanged every now and then and we’re both making great progress.  This is the power of parallel play.  We are doing completely separate things but we’re doing it in the company of each other and that is special.  To use a really geeky analogy for those who have played “The Sims”, we’re both still getting little relationship plus signs appearing above our heads.  This is something we’ve worked at together to achieve and I’m so glad of it.

All about the PLUS signs!

What can often happen is that we think that we can only spend time with another person if the activity is able to be undertaken by all parties.  The classic case is – “I need to concentrate on my study, I’ll catch up with you later.”  And granted – that needs to happen sometimes, but there is a morale, happiness and often effectiveness benefit to being able to do that with other people (aka study groups).  Please note I’m not saying in any way that this REPLACES quality special time with other people, and it certainly isn’t always possible with everyone –  but it is time that we might otherwise lose out on spent in the positive company of others.



I’m just about wrapped up with what I need to achieve today, and it’s been done faster than I thought it might.  I had fewer distractions – especially seeing how hard my lady friend is going.  My better half over there is going to need about another hour before we go see the new Captain America movie and i’ll probably turn the Playstation on with some headphones – turn the screen away so it’s not distracting.  My feet are reaching over and touching hers.  There’s a feeling of connection and it makes me smile.  I’ll take this time over working alone any time.  I know it’s not always possible, but when it is – parallel play is such a great way to experience time with another person.

Family using electronic gadgets in a living room
Family Time – Different activities, but done together

Keep it in mind next time.  Need to bust out some assignments?  Get a friend and do it together.  Practicing a skill, like painting or music?  Your partner in the same room with a book can offer quiet insight and commentary whilst doing there own thing.  Family time each night in the lounge room – maybe the kids are playing handhelds, mum and dad are watching the news or emailing.  The point is – whatever you’re doing, do it together.  We have so little spare time, lets use it effectively 🙂


Sweet – Captain America time.  See ya Team.




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