Today I met a new client for the first time, a busy home educating Mum with caring responsibilities. Early into our conversation, I asked her what she does for herself.

She told me what a huge thing it was for her to have assigned a full hour to herself in coming to see me. It was the first thing she’d done for herself in a long time.

It is an absolute honour that this woman has chosen to invest her limited free time with me, to trust me not to waste it. I have every intention of showing her that she’s made the right choice.

As a busy home educating Mum myself, I am able to relate to some of the time pressure and guilt she described, but I also know how important it is that we take time for ourselves. We can’t look after others if we don’t first look after ourselves; we need to be good role models to our children about what is expected of women as mothers and partners; and life is just too damn short not to be treating ourselves kindly and having plenty of joy in it.

Unfortunately I come across too many people who find it hard to answer the question, “what do you do for yourself, purely for the fun and pleasure of it, not to be fit/thin/fast/strong or make money or improve a skill or because someone else wants or needs you to?” Either because they don’t do anything for fun, or because they feel guilty about the things they do for fun.

When did you last really lose yourself in play? All thoughts of washing up or what’s for dinner or your overflowing inbox gone from your mind, no sense of time passing because you were so fully immersed in a game? What do you do just for fun, not to get faster or fitter or better at it? Play helps us relax and connect and solve problems in more creative and innovative ways than we might otherwise manage.

Last summer about ten of us had a giant game of piggy in the middle in the sea. Everyone was laughing, suggesting new rules, splashing each other. No one was checking the time or stopping to take a picture for social media or worrying about who was winning or how they looked. Sadly the older we get, the less of these playful moments we seem to have.

How could you introduce more play into your life?